Saturday, August 9, 2014

Service Change: NYC, Part 3 - M4 (Between Washington Heights or Fort Tyron Park (The Cloisters) and Penn Station)

Okay, Google Maps. Take me from the Met to our hotel near Penn Station. Let's see, it says to take the M4 bus rather than the subway. Well, Google Maps is always right, right?

Wrong. The subway is always faster than the bus in New York. Though it was an enjoyable ride, the M4 was so slow - and it even had its own dedicated bus lane! I mean, the Silver Line along Washington Street isn't the best, but it does goes somewhat fast. The issue in New York is that other cars go into the bus lane anyway. You're not gonna move any faster by doing that, guys.

We got on the bus right by the Met, at the 81st Street stop. Buses cost the same amount of money to ride as the subways: $2.50 with a MetroCard and $2.75 without one. It wasn't that crowded inside, and it never did get crowded for the entire ride, probably because the subway is about 500 times faster than the bus. The inside was standard, but nice enough. I was sort of annoyed that there weren't any automatic announcements, though; I mean, come on! This is New Yawk!

A bad picture of the M4.
Another bad picture of the M4.
The inside of the bus.
There could be a much better use for that.
We headed down 5th Avenue, right alongside Central Park with tall buildings on the other side. But eventually, the park ended and we were surrounded by buildings. We were stopping at every stop, but there were never too many people on the bus at any given point. And again, the bus was moving at a snail's pace, what with the insane amount of traffic and red lights.

Also, there are about half a million bus routes that run down 5th Ave. Maybe it's a busy corridor, but they all have different stops! For example, at Central Park South, there's a stop for the M1-M4, then the BxM6-BxM11 stop before the intersection at 58 Street, while the M5 and Q32 stop after the intersection, then at 56 Street there's a stop for just the BxM18, and at 55 Street the BxM3-BxM4, M1-M5, Q32, X63-X64, and X68 all share a stop, then the BM1-BM5 stop at 54 Street, while the X10, X10B, X12, X14, X17, X17J, X30, and X42 stop between 54 and 53 Streets. How is anyone supposed to figure all this out? It doesn't help that there are all the prefix letters, and even some suffix letters to confuse people even more. Long story short, I feel sorry for anyone who's looking for the right bus to take on 5th Ave.

We went by Rockefeller Center, and then the cool-looking New York Public Library a few blocks later. We got to 34th Street, but my mother insisted on getting off here and walking the rest of the way. I agreed, since the bus turns onto 34th Street, and going across town is even slower than downtown. Though it wasn't the fastest way to get around, the bus did provide a nice view of the city, and it felt a lot more relaxed than a ride on the subway can ever feel.

A quick note about when we got off: these back doors were ones that you push to leave. It seemed like the driver would unlock them whenever the bus got to a stop, and passengers were free to push it if they wanted to get out the back. It was actually really heavy and hard to open, but a cool feature regardless.

The back doors.
Oh, look, they've even added non-MTA services to the bus stop sign just to make it even more confusing!
That's a much better picture.
Travelling by bus on weekends and nights must be a pain. But now that I think about it, the lack of a bus lane would make no difference.
A nice schedule and map at a stop.
This is an express bus that appears to be out of service. I find it interesting that they use coach buses for these routes.
Six bucks?! And I'll bet the subway's still faster.

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