johnsu01 (johnsu01) wrote,

Chinatown buses

Explain how some companies can charge $15 for a bus ride that other companies charge $40+ for.

Catching up on old papers a bit tonight. Somehow I missed this little story, about a certain Chinatown bus that caught on fire.

The Chinatown buses are one of the great gambles one can take while living in Boston. They go from Boston to New York City, for $15. By comparison, a Greyhound/Peter Pan bus is around $40 usually, for the same trip.

A rational consumer is left to wonder, How the hell is that possible? There are some small differences---the non-Chinatown buses are a bit cleaner and less crowded. But, most of those small differences exist between the Peter Pan and the Greyhound buses, and those buses cost the same (you don't even know which one you're getting till it rolls up to the station). Peter Pan buses even show movies. So, these small details do not account for the price difference.

Safety seems to be one area where costs can be cut. At least that's the fear. To be fair, I haven't heard of many incidents. But it's always a nagging fear every time I contemplate a Chinatown bus. I've gone with Greyhound in the past mostly for crowd reasons. If you're going to go to NYC at a popular time to go to NYC, you better show up real early and wait in line if you want a seat on the $15 bus.

So, on March 18 a Chinatown bus caught on fire on the Mass. Pike. The driver realized it was going to catch on fire---he pulled over and got everyone off the bus before it burst into flames. No one was hurt. Probably, though, some of their shit got burnt. The Globe article also recapped the 2001 crash in Canada of a Chinatown company bus that did kill 4 middle school students.

I've heard some other horror stories, about drivers backing down the expressway after missing the exit, etc. I guess "that bus that caught on fire" will just get filed under the "How the fsck are these buses so cheap?" area of my memory.

Tags: boston, buses, chinatown, nyc
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