Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chinatown bus stop still running in Oakland.



There's a sign on the door of a papered-up Oakland storefront that reads:
Retail opportunity on the ground floor of one of
Pittsburgh's hottest technology co-working spaces
116 Meyran Avenue is available for lease
116 Meyran Avenue (map) has for years been the home of a Chinatown Bus station. In spite of the sign on the door, the bus station is still up and running, a phone call to a local ticket salesman confirmed. The daily bus to New York's Chinatown leaves at 12:20 am and costs $45 each way ($65 at the door, though $45 if you mention "George", says George).

Chinatown buses enjoyed their highest popularity here before Megabus and other alternatives to Greyhound emerged. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a short profile on some of the lines servicing Pittsburgh in 2006, and their popularity among non-Asians given the lack of affordable intercity public transportation.
Kin Yeung of McCandless said that when he took a Fung Wah bus from New York's Chinatown to Boston, more than half of the passengers were non-Asian.

Nonetheless, "a lot of people in the Chinese community in Pittsburgh are using these bus services because they're so cheap," he said.
The Chinatown bus lines followed a business model similar to the discount lines today:
[Greyhound spokeswoman Anna] Folmnsbee said Greyhound's generally higher bus prices, for the most part, subsidized buildings and staff.

"We put a lot of money into our facilities, to make sure our passengers have a safe, comfortable, warm place to wait and customer service agents who tell you where to go to line up," she said. "Plus our passengers know we offer more schedules, a dozen to New York per day as opposed to maybe a handful."

While Ms. Folmnsbee declined to discuss how Greyhound regards the advent of low-cost Chinatown bus services, the company did sue Fung Wah in 2004 for lacking proper permits.
Google will help you learn why they aren't as popular anymore.