Despite crashes, low-cost bus travel a popular option

The National Transportation Safety Board is examining an economical mode of transportation that’s used by many Delaware Valley residents. 

A series of accidents has drawn attention to the discounted bus rides. An incident on the New Jersey Turnpike killed two and injured 41—the family of a victim involved in that crash is suing the bus company involved.

 

Federal officials are reviewing bus regulations. Even on a rainy weekday morning, it was busy at the 2000 New Century Travel bus building near 11th and Arch streets in Center City Philadelphia Tuesday.  This is the pick-up and drop-off point for one of the “Chinatown buses.” Kaden Weaver, who’s from Australia, climbed off the bus he took from Baltimore, “It was good and cheap, they drive quick, they overtake a few too many cars, but don’t bother me,” said Weaver. Weaver said the ride didn’t feel dangerous and he’d prefer not to wear a seat belt because it’s easier to sleep.  The bus company could not be reached for comment. Standing nearby, Sean Ashanti waited for a bus. The real estate broker splits his time between New York and Philadelphia and said he makes the trip to New York a few times a week. Asked if he feels safe riding the bus, Ashanti said, “No!  Not at all.”

He said he continues to take the bus because it’s so cheap.

“It’s 20 bucks round trip!” he said. Ashanti said he’d probably be willing to pay a little more to take a ride that felt safer and included seat belts.  Probably.   Around the corner at the Greyhound station, one passenger said her bus did have seat belts, but like many others she didn’t wear it because it’s uncomfortable. Passenger Mark Haney agreed, “I’ve been on the Greyhound bus four times so far–traveling cross country– I’m only 29.  I feel pretty safe,” he said. “I’m not sure if they have seat belts or not, I don’t ever wear one.  Even in my own car I don’t wear one–it’s too restraining.” A Greyhound representative said nearly 15 percent of buses have seat belts. That percentage will grow, she said, as the company adds new buses to its fleet.

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