Transportation Alternatives, a group that’s dedicated to shifting New York City away from cars and making it friendlier for bicycles and pedestrians, almost beat one of the city’s busiest buses in a footrace this week.
The group — which power-walked against the crosstown M14 bus — lost by only 5 seconds, local media reported.
“The M14 is one of the slowest buses in New York City. It moves at an average speed of 4 mph. . . . we might as well walk to the destinations we’re going to,” the group’s president, Tom DeVito, says in a video posted by Gothamist.
It sometimes takes 45 minutes or longer to travel across Manhattan on the 14th street bus because of congestion and cars parked in the bus lanes. The advocates say the slow travel times are a reason that bus ridership has been declining in New York City since 2012 while ride-hailing — which offers an alternative to mass transit but also contributes to traffic jams — has increased.
Bus service is a problem in the Washington area, too, where buses are slow and getting slower. Slow travel times turn people off mass transit and also raise its expense, in part because agencies have to put more buses on slow routes as travel times lengthen.
Metro is working with other local bus service providers and transit advocates to overhaul regional bus service. A report prepared for that effort, the Washington Area Bus Transformation Project, says bus ridership has dropped 13 percent over the past five years, raising costs by $30 million. The report says that model is unsustainable — even though it’s been an issue for some time.
In 2010, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) used GPS data to chart and map the busiest Metrobus routes and focus attention on the most troublesome bottlenecks. That effort found that, like the M14 in New York, some of the busiest routes were also the slowest — and that some buses moved at only about 2.3 mph — or almost the pace of a brisk walk.
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