Guide to the Chinatown Bus
The word is out – the cheapest way to get from one major US city to another on the "bus Chinatown». In recent years this has become transportation option of choice for budget travelers in New York, Washington and Boston, and more recently on the west coast. Students, tourists, and many other savvy travelers have long loved the rock bottom prices that these bus companies offer. Despite the popularity of these bus lines it can still be difficult to find information about bus Chinatown.
What is it with the & # 39 is the "Chinatown Bus"? Read on and you will have the inside track on this great budget travel option.
History of Chinatown Bus
Bus with & # 39; reality Chinatown began in the late 1990s when an entrepreneur in Chinatown New York City began to work daily bus from Chinatown in New York to Chinatown in Boston. The service was aimed at Asian immigrants who wanted to shop or visit relatives in either city and needed cheap and convenient transportation. The service was bare bones – no advertising, customer service, or bus stations. Customers simply went to the bus stop, waiting for the bus (or van), and paid the driver when boarding. For those who want to do without frills, they offered virtually the same service as traditional bus companies at a much lower price. By the time word spread and all kinds of people started to use this service. This has become especially popular with students, budget travelers, or people for whom the service was simply more convenient.
Shortly larger bus companies duplicated this model and started offering service in other cities. Now you can find this type of bus service in Philadelphia, Virginia, Baltimore, Washington, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. At this point the term «Chinatown bus" is used more loosely to describe this sort of low-cost / low-frills service. Many, if not most, of the companies does not have Chinatown as their main, and can not meet an immigrant at all. These statements are also sometimes referred to as "" roadside operators.
As tickets so cheap?
$ 15 between New York to Boston? $ 25 from Las Vegas to Los Angeles? It seems difficult to understand. Chinatown bus companies are able to keep prices low because they work in fundamentally different from traditional media. First of all, the service is very simple. There is little in the way of service and the convenience of customers. Most of these operators do not have formal stations, picking up passengers at bus stops instead. They avoid traditional advertising in favor of word of mouth. In addition, many operators play a very hands-on role in the operation – you will not see idle executives at a small independent bus company. Finally, these operators make sure they fill their buses. That is why the operators of bus Chinatown, usually only on very busy routes. Indeed, some companies only run buses at peak hours.
Or are they a & # 39 safe?
If these companies first started working, the question was raised about safety standards. There is controversy in the bus industry about how to & # 39 are the newcomers have the same rules as traditional companies. However, the task force established by the federal government to look at safety issues found that Chinatown bus companies did not perform better or worse than other types of bus companies (ie. The charter, tour buses). All bus companies operating in the US must go through the same testing standards and must comply with the same rules. Realistically there is probably a range of quality among the media bus Chinatown. Some unreliable operators are trying to make a quick buck, while other legitimate entrepreneurs who plan to grow and work long-term business
The fact that you do not have to wait
- There are no frills service. – The driver may be the ticket collector; there will not be a lot of customer service.
- Comfortable buses. Despite the low fares buses are usually very nice. Most buses are comparable with greyhounds and many are actually more deluxe.
- Communication problems. Drivers are legally required to speak enough English to help passengers in case of an emergency. In fact, it often adheres quite freely. At the very least, expect your driver to have an accent.
- Possible delay. Many of the bus routes on heavily congested roads. When the roads are busy, expect delays.
- Rest stops. Buses will have a lavatory on board, but there are usually 10 or 15 minutes a bathroom break on trips over 4 hours. Too late returning to the bus, the driver will not count heads before from the & # 39 entrance at the appointed time.
- Full buses. Buses defined sell at peak times (weekends and evenings). Book in advance and get there early if you want to secure a place.
- Plastic bags. Strange small quirk on Chinatown buses with & # 39 is that each pass place usually has a plastic grocery bag, attached to the arm. I believe they are the best way to keep the tires clean.
How to find the Chinatown Bus?
Again, «Chinatown bus" is a term used to describe a type of operator and not an individual bus company. Many unrelated bus companies fall into this category. Since most Chinatown buses do not spend money on advertising, it can be difficult to find out details about schedules and bus stop locations. Many of the carriers become savvier about the Internet and very few of them have websites with information. Usually, an Internet search will provide links to the bus to their destination. There are also several directories, such as chinatown-bus.org, which include links for most Chinatown bus companies and the employer of the author, GotoBus.com, centralized reservation system that has schedules and sells tickets online for most Chinatown bus companies.  Chinatown bus is not for everyone. If you want an orderly system with American style customer service, you should probably stick to the traditional media. However, if you know what to expect and be prepared with a sense of adventure and humor, you have to enjoy the ride just fine. You can also enjoy the savings!