Bus riders beware: transit research group Straphangers Campaign has decreed the M15 local as the City's least reliable bus.
The M15, which services close to 55,000 passengers a day and runs along First Ave. from the Financial District to East Harlem, won Straphangers' annual Shleppie Award due to "33% of buses arriving with big gaps in service or bunched together."
The Straphangers report seemed to reflect reality on Thursday at one of the line's East Village stops at 2nd Street and 1st Avenue.
As a small group of locals braved 30-degree temperatures, 45 minutes passed before an M15 local arrived. By then, eight potential riders had given up and left the stop altogether.
"This bus never comes, but because I have to go to 23rd Street I have to take the local," said Annalisa Malelli, an Italian-born East Village resident who lasted just 20 minutes in the cold before giving up and walking to 23rd Street. While she waited, four express buses passed by, along with one local marked "Next Bus Please."
"I organize my life and leave home one hour [early] because I know this bus never comes," said Malelli. "I depend on the bus. It is sad for me."
One of two women to brave the blistering cold for long enough to catch the bus was a 54-year-old mother of five who gave her name as Blu T.. She says she’s lived her entire life in the East Village, and said the M15 is in the worst state she'd ever seen.
"I'm not walkin' to 14th Street," she said. "It's crazy, this happened to me about a month ago too. There's no reason for me to be waiting this long."
Once on the bus, the ride on the local M15 was choppy, uneven and uncomfortable, with the driver weaving through 1st Avenue's potholes to make stops every three to four blocks and pick up more exasperated patrons.
Strangely enough, the express M15 SBS bus, which launched in 2012 and makes stops about every 10 blocks, was ranked second-worst by Straphangers in terms of reliability, something riders vehemently disagreed with.
"It works for me, man," said Eddie Rivera, 55, who takes the bus from his home in the Lower East Side to his office in FiDi. "Usually right after work I come out here and they're on time."
One rider even went so far as to say the M15 SBS line, which features increased hours and new vehicles, was her favorite bus in town.
"I really haven't had much of a problem with it and it usually comes when I need it to," said Jacquelina Rosa, a Queens native who often visits Manhattan to see her mother. "I use a lot of buses in Manhattan and the M15 line is the best one."
Several riders on the M15 SBS gave their candidate for least reliable bus as M21 bus, which travels between the West Village and Lower East Side. It’s ranked as the ninth slowest in the City.
The MTA responded to Straphangers’ findings by thanking the group for its “insightful reports.”
“We are continuing to work with the New York City Department of Transportation to increase the number of bus lanes and locations where buses would have traffic signal priority,” an MTA spokesperson said on Thursday. “While traffic plays the most significant role in bus speeds, we have increased dispatching efforts and are using our GPS-enabled bus fleet to monitor real time bus performance in order to make scheduling adjustments when possible.”