Friday, September 19, 2008

Downside of the Chinatown Bus

I will admit from the get go that I use the Chinatown buses a lot. They are affordable, your bike can easily be locked in the cargo hold, and they are a great alternative to the train or greyhound. This Gotham Gazette article does point out that they are still a major problem in Chinatown. I would beg to differ, are the buses causing the congestion or are they just another vehicle in a larger broken down traffic circulation pattern. For those not in the NE this is why they are so popular:
The trip from New York to Boston on Amtrak is $89. By car, at $4 for a gallon of gas, the 220-mile drive costs somewhere about $30, without tolls. The Fung Wah or Lucky Star bus leaving from Canal Street or Chrystie Street respectively is $15, and their upscale neighbor, the Bolt Bus, which departs from the sidewalk outside of Penn Station, is about $20 with a reserved seat and wireless internet. Given the economics, it's no surprise that the bus business is booming.

In 2006, Michael Lau, the commanding officer of the Fifth Precinct, told the City Council Transportation Committee that the crowding of discount buses in Chinatown brings dangerously congested streets, the possibility of accidents and even violence as bus operators compete for parking spots and passengers. He claimed that 30 different bus companies dispatch more than 100 buses each day from Chinatown's curbsides.
As the end of the article suggests, it has long been over due that the city embrace this vital service for many and find ways to make it work for the bus companies, the neighborhoods, and the city as a whole. NYC does lack vision when it comes to planning for buses (of all kinds), but I really don't think a solution is all that hard if the city was willing to close a few blocks to traffic and make it a transit mall for all the different bus operations. I think it could work just fine and law enforcement would be easier. Here is a longer story in the NY Times about the buses.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Chinatown buses are pretty nice. I find my tickets at BusJunction, because they list the most reputable lines.