For the second year in a row, the M42 bus is the slowest in the city, inching its way across Manhattan at an average speed of 3.6 miles per hour. The average walking speed for most adults is 3 miles per hour, so extrapolating that out to the average New Yorker, it is generally faster to walk, especially since it also eliminates the interminable wait for the next bus.
The top 10 slowest bus routes, according to the Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives, are all those that criss-cross Manhattan, with all but one going slower than 5 miles per hour while doing so. They are the M42, M14A, M66, M79, M23, M34, M14D, M50, M96 and M86. (All of those routes run mostly along the corresponding Manhattan streets, i.e. 14th Street and 66th Street.) The Bx19 is the next slowest, running along Southern Boulevard and East 149th Street in the Bronx before crossing over to Harlem and, surprise surprise, traversing the length of 145th Street.
In the following video produced by StreetFilms, transit wonks Gene Russianoff and Paul Steely White explain the problems and possible solutions with bad bus service. The best option is some form of select bus service, which was just implimented on First and Second avenues. The real test case for such improvements for crosstown service will come with the dramatic reengineering of 34th Street, which would not only add dedicated bus lanes but also make traffic one-way and add a Times Square-like pedestrian plaza at the base of the Empire State Building. Could this be the future of all our major cross streets?
The M34 got some improvements two years ago, but they still haven’t totally taken, given the buses Top 10 (or is it Bottom 10) finish this year. So maybe there’s no good solution but to just hoof it.