Chinatown Bus, Worth the Risk?


The Chinatown bus is a bus line between New York City and Boston that has gained a reputation as a cheap, fly-by-night operation. Customers pay only $15 for the privilege of cheap thrills: flipping over off-ramps, losing wheels while traveling 70 miles per hour, and having their vehicle combust. Despite the spate of incidents two years ago, I’ve never had the chance to be involved in any of these incidents. I’ve always taken the Fung Wah because I can show up at the ticket booth anytime, pay $15, and be on my way to Boston or New York in half an hour. According to the Boston Globe, Fung Wah buses have crashed twice and driven over 3.03 million miles in the past 30 months. The distance of the Boston-NY route is 216 miles. That means Fung Wah buses have made 14,028 trips, and 0.014% of them were accidents. At $15 trip and so much convenience, I’ll take that chance.

I arrived home in Wellesley last night after taking the Fung Wah bus. It was a much better experience than the trip I took during Thanksgiving. Why? Because there were no Christmas-tree shaped air fresheners hanging under the bus’ luggage racks. If you ever step onto a Fung Wah bus and notice dozens of them hanging inside, DO NOT GET ON.

If you do, halfway through the ride, when the driver turns on the heat, the bus will fill with hot, fetid urine vapor. The overwhelming piss flavor will stream from every air duct. The temperature will rise to the point that you’ll want to unlock the emergency window exit, punch away the glass, and hurl yourself screaming onto the highway. Passengers in the back will wake up from near suffocation and send a delegate to the front warning the driver to do something before there are asphyxiation casualties. Finally, a tall man will rise to the occasion, pop open the ceiling’s emergency exits, and everyone will clap and praise him as a hero.