Relatively unknown and regional bus companies are part of a thriving industry built on undercutting well known national names such as Greyhouhnd and Peter Pan.
Some of the bus names are Apex, Empire, Lucky. Sometimes the name is in Chinese. Sometimes there is no name at all. What they do have in common is a cheaper ticket to ride.
"It's very convenient and much cheaper. You go to Greyhound and you will pay $40. Here -- $10," said Jimmy Yin, who said he takes the Apex bus from Chinatown to and from Philadelphia all the time.
The deadly crash of a bus belonging to World Wide Tours of Brooklyn has put a part of the bus industry, largely invisible, under the microscope.
"If Saturday shows us anything, it's we don't have the luxury of maintaining the status quo," said U. S. Senator Charles Schumer. The New York Democrat has called for an investigation into bus transportation.
The issue is sure to get even more attention after another bus crashed Monday night on the New Jersey turnpike, killing two people and injuring 41others. The bus was headed from Chinatown to Philadelphia; the cause has not been determined.
Relatively unknown and regional companies are part of a thriving industry built on undercutting well known national names such as Greyhound and Peter Pan. According to Schumer, such companies may be shortchanging passengers on safety.
In many cases, the small bus operations started as a means of shuttling Chinese workers between big cities, then transporting Chinatown residents to Atlantic City and other casino destinations. Now college students and others looking to pay less are finding these lesser known carriers on the internet and booking trips.
"It's not that safe because they're always rushing," said college student Ekoya Atkins who was about to board a bus for Newport News, Va.
"I guess I take my chances," said Laura Moycomeus, another college student en route to Richmond, Va.
Consumers can take a free peek at the safety record of a company registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation by going to checking the DOT web site. You can search by name, but finding out the company's USDOT number is a way of avoiding problems with similar spellings.
The site provides a "company snapshot" which includes a safety rating -- if any -- plus a roadside out-of-service inspection summary and crash information.