Friday, November 23, 2012

For safety's sake?

After Chinatown buses had several highly publicized accidents, Jeff wrote an argument on why we shouldn't make buses safer. In short, buses are much safer than cars. Anything that raises the price of riding the bus will mean more cars on the roads and more accidents.

Last year, we rode a sketchy Chinatown bus to and from Thanksgiving. This year, that company and all the other sketchy companies have been shut down. Fares are triple what they were. So we drove.

Car crashes don't make the news, but mass transit accidents do. And yet they're far safer than cars. Better to allow sketchy services to run cheaply than have more cars on the road.


judibabcock said...

Interesting perspective. In a more perfect world, the Chinatown buses would have responded to fines and warnings by servicing the buses and not had to be shut down.

Buses are safer than cars in general, I'm not sure that poorly maintained buses, that periodically catch fire, are safer than having more cars on the road. I certainly wouldn't have wanted my son to ride on one of them!

judibabcock said...
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judibabcock said...

I checked and you seem to be mistaken about the sketchy Chinatown bus companies being out of business. Lucky Star and Fung Wah both still have their web sites up and are listing tickets for sale from Boston to NYC for $15.

Julia Wise said...

You're right that the buses between Boston, New York, and Philadelphia are still running, but the ones I used to take to Virginia are closed.

In the three bus-catching-fire incidents, no one was hurt. The cases with actual injuries seem to come from driver error, not badly maintained vehicles.

As far as I can find (, in the fifteen years the Chinatown buses have been running, they've killed a total of 16 people. If all the passengers of all those buses had ridden in cars instead, we would expect more deaths.

So we should be fine going to the Less Wrong meetup in New York next month via Lucky Star - or at least, finer than we would be in a car. :)

judibabcock said...

Thanks for clarifying.
The driver error would have caused higher insurance or loss of licenses for the drivers of the buses, that may have contributed to those companies going out of business.
There are better options to NYC, which go to mid-town, have outlets for laptops,take reservations and are also very expensive