Discount Buses: A Cheapskate’s Dream; A Safety Nightmare

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My bus trip to New York last week cost me $13 (one-way). We left on time, arrived on time, and had (sluggish) wifi all the way.  With Baltimore-New York train tickets hovering around $100+ and often plagued by delays (and no wifi!), no wonder more people are turning to the low-cost bus lines that run up and down the east coast.  They’re so convenient that I sometimes wonder what the catch is. Well, we got one answer this week:  the catch is that your bus might catch on fire.

Yep, an MVP bus from New York to Baltimore caught fire on the New Jersey Turnpike after a right rear tire blew out. (Dramatic photo here.) Sure, accidents happen — but these low-cost bus lines seem to be plagued with more than their share. A speeding bus overturned int he Bronx in March, and 14 people died.  A Greensboro-New York Chinatown bus flipped in May, leaving four people dead. A Greyhound bus turned over on the Pennsylvania Turnpike last week, sending 21 people to the hospital. A double-decker Megabus had its second level sheared off by a bridge last year, killing four passengers.

Low-cost bus services stay cheap by being efficient; sometimes, it seems, that means cutting corners, letting sleepy drivers go out for one more run (they’re supposed to be restricted to 10 hours of driving a day), and not enforcing safety regulations.  The National Transportation Safety Board recently announced a safety review of the industry. But with gas and train prices staying the way they are, I’ll probably keep taking them anyway.

Do you feel safe on these buses?

Radim Strojek / Shutterstock.com



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