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Shortly after federal transportation authorities cracked down on Chinatown’s charter buses, city officials have targeted cheap transport between Flushing, Queens and Manhattan.
This seems to have started last week. Then, city officials began issuing fines and towing the large tour buses that had started competing with passenger vans. These buses had only been ferrying passengers along the Flushing-Chinatown route for several weeks and were charging $1, though the established, licensed passenger vans charged some $2.75, the New York Times and Daily News report.
Some pros and cons?
No matter how you look at it, the big buses were cheaper. And who likes to pay more for something when there’s a less expensive — maybe better — alternative? Coaches have TVs, right? TVs!
Cheap ain’t everything. In 2011, 28 deaths were attributed to poorly regulated, interstate Chinatown charters, according to Business Insider. Though different (those charters operated outside of New York), the buses currently in question are not licensed to operate for transport within the city, so it’s unclear whether the appropriate precautions are being taken to assure passengers’ live arrival.
Con: Consumer Choice
This one’s always messy, but it’s worth bringing up. Some people will surely make the argument that people have a right to do unsafe things with their money. If they want to ride in a dangerous coach bus rather than a van, their reasoning goes, they should be allowed to as long as they’re fully aware it’s dangerous.
Pro: Public Health
This point addresses that “consumer choice” conundrum. Transportation is one of those things where we tend to coordinate with each other, because a lot of people using potentially deadly heavy machinery should probably coordinate, or something. So, consumer choice might not work here: Unlicensed buses can be dangerous to people who don’t chose to ride on them — like people in vans or pedestrians or cyclists, etc.
Con: Lost Storytelling Ops
OK, let’s face it: Buses aren’t always the hottest thing to write about. But this New York Times paragraph almost makes the industry seem like an episode of Dallas. Or Dynasty. “The departure of the big buses was as abrupt and dramatic as their arrival, 18 days ago, which touched off tensions along the commuter van route, including a price war, screaming matches and a smattering of violence.” Damn.
Pro: We just got to reminisce about Dallas and Dynasty.
Who shot J.R.?