26 bus companies were shut down by DOT yesterday

The official news was out today (May 31, 2012) after 6 bus operators informed GotoBus that their services were closed down yesterday (May 30, 2012).  A total of 26 bus companies (actually 13 companies since other 13 bus companies were previously shut down) were identified by FMCSA in its press release on May 31, 2012.  http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/news/news-releases/2012/I-95-Bus-Release.aspx

According to the press release, these 26 bus companies are categorized into 3 major companies: Apex Bus, Inc., I-95 Coach, Inc. and New Century Travel, Inc.  half of the 26 companies appear to have been shut down in the past for various reasons including safety issues.

The collective act to shut down these Chinatown bus companies simultaneously came in as a surprise, especially after frequent and tight inspections by government agencies since one year ago.

The fatal accident on Mar 12, 2011 resulting in 15 deaths was cited in many news reports.  Interestingly enough, the bus operator in that accident was not owned by Chinese immigrants and that operator is still in the bus business.  The media clearly is doing the same thing as they did for a government report on curbside bus operators.  They associate Chinatown bus with all bad statistics (see signaling out Chinatown bus as curbside bus when bad statistics are discussed) .

Bus fares with other competing Chinatown bus operators, for many routes previously serviced by these bus companies, jumped today as the result of elimination of competitors.

Based on a specific order on each of these three companies “must agree to operate under one certificate of registration”, it suggests that those live companies are having the same ownership structure (same owners with same percentage ownership).  It is hard to believe that these companies, formed in different time, would all share the same ownership structure.

If two partners co-own three restaurants with different percentages (one with 60/40, one with 50/50 and one with 40/60) due to their initial investment choices, these three restaurants (or entities) should be allowed to operate separately in their respective ownership.  Even though the owners are limited to the same two parties, three entities probably should apply for different licenses.

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DOT is shutting down several Chinatown Bus companies

As of today (May 30, 2012), at least 6 Chinatown bus companies informed GotoBus to suspend their bus ticket sales due to DOT actions. Surprisingly, no news report has surfaced for these actions so far.

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Is ‘Curbside Motorcoach’ = ‘Chinatown Bus’?

Today there are many news articles coming out of a NTSB Report on Curbeside Motorcoach Safety. Some reputable news agencies, such as Wall Street Journal, would give a relative fair citation to “curbside” of this report, see here. Some smaller new agencies, however, would conveniently replace ‘Curbside Motorcoach’ by ‘Chinatown Bus’ (see an example here: Chinatown bus deaths are city’s highest).

While BoltBus and MegaBus are two leading curbside bus operators in the US, some news agencies would single out smaller and ethnic bus operators, at least on their headlines, as the representation of curbside bus operators.  To have a closer representation of curbside bus services, isn’t “BoltBus’ Death Rate Said Seven Times That of Competitors” a better title than “Chinatown Buses’ Death Rate Said Seven Times That of Competitors“?

(Update Nov 2, 2011: the headline above was changed to “Chinatown Buses’ Death Rate Said Seven Times that of Others”.  Clearly Chinatown Bus competes with other curbside bus operators that share the same statistics in the NTSB report.  What is the logic behind ’7 times’ for one type of curbside bus operators over another type of curbside bus operators?)

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Who is the Largest Discount Bus Company?

When there were smaller bus companies competing with a monopoly, Greyhound, there were a lot of lobby efforts to local, state and federal government.  Both Lucky Star and Funghua Bus were forced to move into South Station as their bus terminals in Boston.

This lobbying effort failed in most cities, however.  And the entrance of MegaBus expanded from the European continent, labeled ‘from $1 fare’, changed the single monopoly status and the legitimacy of discount bus business.

Greyhound quickly followed the discount and curbside bus business model by jointly forming BoltBus, also using ‘from $1 fare’.  They use curb-sides to pick up customers in many cities.

While we heard many new media reporting about cracking down here and there on discount bus business.  Do not forget that the largest discount and curbside bus provider in the US:

Is it MegaBus or BoltBus?

You decide.

But some media agencies would decide wisely.


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Schalors vs. Business Men

I have been considering myself as a scholar, not a business man.  But the fact of life is that I am running a business, instead of teaching or doing research.

Perhaps it is the way that I approach matters in a scholar way, even though I am running a business.

My Ph.D. advisor, Professor Chris Hoffman, is a typical scholar.  Regardless of his own reasearch interest or his hobby, he would get the top of the issues as long as he focuses his time.  It is an invaluable asset if his students can inherit.

My advisor had the pancreatic cancer a few years back.  He was very calm, as Dr. Randy Pausch, to study and document matters and progress related to his findings and dealings with the cancer.  He is very brave, beyond calm.  His pancratice cancer is cured today – God bless!

One thing leads to another, I am not doing research or teaching.  But deep inside, I am a schalor with a business man as the mask.  Doing reseach is a fun activity.  I like to deal with new things.

Recently, I have to study how to deal with a subpoena when DOT/FMCSA issued one to me when they decided to investigate a business client of GotoBus.  This offers me an opportunity to be a scholar.  I have to study the law and cases around this subpoena.

I am fortunate to have some friends who are in the legal area, such as Alan, Helen, Ian, John, Peter, Shawn and Steve.  They helped me get inside the door of many legal issues.  When I am into this research, it is purely a joy.

Sometimes I envy my young brother who is a professor in a prestige university in China.  But again, at some business process, one can assume a role as a schalor.

I am glad that I am running a business instead of being a pure scholar.  But I am sure many people, like my advisor or my young brother, enjoy being schalors.

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