They're cheap, they're convenient, and according to the federal government, many Chinatown buses were also death traps. Authorities cracked down hard on Chinatown bus operators yesterday, shutting down 26 companies that they said were part of an "unscrupulous" network of bus operators that flouted federal rules, the New York Times reports. Chuck Schumer and Ray LaHood held a press conference in Chinatown to denounce the carriers, who shuttled up to 1,800 passengers a day from Manhattan to cities along the coast for ludicrously cheap fares.
Those fares allegedly came with cut corners; Inspectors say companies hired drivers without checking their backgrounds, or even whether they had a valid license. They didn’t test them for drugs either, or make sure they were getting enough rest between trips. "Shutting them down will save lives," LaHood said. But two of the best-known operators, Fung Wah and Lucky Star were left unscathed in the crackdown. "We are not saying all of the discount curbside bus companies are bad," Schumer said. "It's a good industry." (Read more Chinatown stories.)