Are Chinatown Bus Companies Being Unfairly Targeted?

Letter to the Editor published in the Washington Post

A Better Way to Regulate Buses
Wednesday, March 22, 2006; Page A20

Regarding Bill Brubaker’s March 2 Business story “Bus Lines Cited in Federal Probe; 11 Firms Accused of Violating ADA”:

I attended the March 2 House subcommittee hearing on regulation of “curbside” (read: Chinatown) bus operators. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) representative testifying at the hearing, the bus carriers in question are registered with the necessary federal and state authorities and are beholden to the same regulatory processes as other carriers. The article quoted the FMCSA’s enforcement and compliance director as saying the curbside carriers performed “no worse or better” than other bus companies in recent inspections.

Yet a special task force has stepped up inspections of the curbside operators since 2004. During that time these carriers have had only three accidents, none fatal. On the other hand, last year two charter bus companies had fatal accidents in Louisiana and Texas, and a Greyhound bus also had a fatal crash. If a congressional hearing was necessary, why is it not directed toward the bus operators that have had fatal accidents?

The Northeast corridor is one of the busiest in the transportation industry. Consumers benefit greatly from competition on these routes. On routes where curbside carriers offer service, traditional carriers offer lower fares.

I am not suggesting that the industry does not need regulation or that buses shouldn’t be accessible to the disabled. However, if the concern is with bus safety, regulations should be applied fairly to all bus carriers — traditional, charter, tour and “curbside.” Otherwise, I must ask if this call to action stems from a true concern for safety or is a result of lobbying by powerful companies.

LILA KAHN

Jamaica Plain, Mass.

The writer is a marketing manager for GotoBus.com, an online bus ticketing company.

GotoBus Launches Affiliate Program

GotoBus.com offers first affiliate program for bus travel on the Internet

CAMBRIDGE, MA, February 14, 2006—Gotobus.com, the leading online marketplace for bus tickets and tours, announced the formal launch of its affiliate program. The program will allow affiliate partners to earn commission on a pay-per-sale basis. Affiliates can either choose to promote GotoBus as a booking partner by linking to the site. Or, the GotoBus booking system can be embedded into the partner website to allow direct booking of bus tickets and tours. Either way the affiliate earns money on every sale from a referring website.

http://www.gotobus.com/affiliate/.

Jimmy Chen, GotoBus.com President, says the service will be the only one of its kind, “The advent of our affiliate program is really the first time website owners will be able to earn money by selling bus travel from their website. We see it as a great compliment to the other travel products that are currently available online from travel related websites.”

The program was developed to in response numerous requests from travel related websites that wanted to offer their customers online booking for bus tickets. The launch of the affiliate program is the latest effort by IvyMedia Corp to expand its online bus ticketing business. In January of this year the company announced that it was formally changing its domain name to GotoBus.com to better serve its customers.

Benefits of the GotoBus affiliate program include:

  • Easily modifiable look and feel—booking system can be fully integrated into partners’ website.
  • Customizable booking window—partners can choose the travel products they sell (coming soon).
  • Straightforward commission structure
  • Easily accessible account information
  • Easy online registration

GOTOBUS.COM BECOMES THE OFFICIAL DOMAIN NAME FOR IVYMEDIA BUS TICKETING AND TRAVEL RELATED PRODUCTS

IvyMedia Corp formally announces that it will use the domain name GotoBus.com for sales of all travel related products.

CAMBRIDGE, MA, January 31, 2006—IvyMedia Corporation, the leading online purveyor of bus tickets and tours, announced that it will transfer all of its travel related business from the domain IvyMedia.com to GotoBus.com. The new name will better reflect the core business of the company: selling bus tickets and bus tours online.

“The name change is a natural progression of the evolution of our company. We are currently the leader in online bus ticketing and we think the new domain name will more accurately convey that to our customers,” says Jimmy Chen, IvyMedia President.

IvyMedia.com began as an online shopping mall in 1999, but quickly found its niche as a marketplace for bus tickets, tours, and vacation packages. The company began the transition to the new domain by adding the GotoBus.com site in the spring of 2005.

Going forward, customers who type www.ivymedia.com into their browser will be automatically redirected to www.gotobus.com. The new website will sell only bus tickets and bus tours. Customers wishing to purchase other products, such as concert tickets and international flower delivery, will still be able to do so from the IvyMedia website.

Coming Soon

GotoBus.com is greatly expanding its tour selection for the 2006 season. The company has added tours and attractions originating in Maine, Niagara Falls, Florida, Vancouver and Chicago. It will soon add several more destinations in the Midwestern US and Canada. In addition, the company has added new tour partners specializing in multi-day tours. This has allowed GotoBus to expand the range of service categories, trip durations and itineraries offered to its customers.

Also new for 2006 is the GotoBus.com affiliate program. This much anticipated program will allow affiliate partners to earn commission on every GotoBus sale originating from their website. The program will launch in early February 2006: http://www.gotobus.com/affiliate/

About GotoBus
GotoBus is the leading online marketplace for bus tickets and tours. The GotoBus online booking system is similar to those used by major airlines, and makes it easy for travelers to quickly compare schedules, prices, and pickup/drop-off locations for over 100 bus companies throughout the United States and Canada. GotoBus.com is the fastest growing gateway for bus travel on the Internet today.
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For more information contact: marketing at gotobus.com or 1-617-354-2101 x.1103

GOTOBUS.COM ADDS LINE RUN BUS SERVICE BETWEEN MIDTOWN MANHATTAN AND PHILADELPHIA

New bus line offers true alternative to Greyhound bus service.

CAMBRIDGE, MA, January 25, 2006— Beginning February 1st GotoBus.com will offer direct bus service between midtown Manhattan and Center City Philadelphia. Through its partnership with the bus line P2P Circulator, GotoBus will add 20 daily scheduled departures on this popular route. The non-stopped bus service will have pickup and drop off locations on 31st St near Penn Station in midtown Manhattan and on 11th Street in Center City Philadelphia.

While several operators run low cost bus service to Philadelphia from Chinatown, this is the only discount option available in midtown Manhattan. Pricing between Philadelphia and New York is $15 one way and $25 roundtrip. At $6-15 less than Greyhound’s standard fare, the new service offers a true alternative to Greyhound and Amtrak. Despite the low fares, the new service is not run by a newcomer to the bus industry. P2P Circulator’s parent company is an established charter bus company with a reputation for reliability. The company’s fleet of premium coaches will be maintained at its full service maintenance facility.

Tickets for the New York to Philadelphia bus service can be purchased online at: http://www.gotobus.com/p2pcirculator/

Getting Around the USA–When is the Bus Your Best Option?


Visitors to the US have many options when it comes to getting around. In the land of (relatively) cheap gas and expensive trains, renting a car is often the most appealing option. On the other hand, for journeys between cities that are further than a few hours drive, flying quickly becomes a viable option. Still there are other times when the best option is taking the bus. How should you determine when this is your best option? Read on.

Bus travel in the US

Whether or not it is warranted, bus travel has a somewhat beleaguered reputation in the U.S. Many consider line run bus service to offer the most basic level of service. In truth there is a wide range of service offered, from luxury to budget, depending on the bus carrier. The bus industry in the United States is dominated by Greyhound, which is the only bus company with service nationwide. Several other companies such as Trailways and Coach USA are made up of independently owned bus companies that share marketing functions and branding. In addition there are several strong regional players in the bus industry, although they may share service with Greyhound on certain routes.

A newer development in the bus industry is the “Chinatown bus”. This is a term used to describe low priced bus companies that operate paired down service on selected routes and charge much less than traditional bus companies. Originally these carriers tended to operate in, and cater to, the Chinese immigrant community. Now the phenomenon appeals to a much wider group of customers. Another trend in the bus industry is luxury service that competes more directly with the airlines. These carriers offer first class amenities and luxury coaches. They tend to be most successful for destinations that are fewer than 6 hours apart.

So, how should you decide when the bus is your best option? Here are a few questions that might help you make your decision:

  1. What is your budget? If you are on a tight budget you won’t be able to beat the bus for price. It is by far the least expensive way to get between destinations in the U.S. This is particularly true on heavily traveled routes in the Northeast where there is a lot of competition.
  2. Will you need a car once you get to your destination? In many U.S. cities (ie. New York, Boston, Washington DC) a car is not only unnecessary but will be a burden to drive and to park once you arrive.
  3. How far are you going? If you are traveling less than a five or six hours it is probably faster to take the bus than to fly when you factor in waiting time at the airport. Moreover, the bus will likely drop you off in the downtown core so you do not have to find your way into the city once you arrive.
  4. Where are you going? It is worth noting that for many more remote destinations in the US, the bus is really the only public transportation option. If you do not drive, taking the bus may be your only choice.
  5. How much time do you have? If your trip is not rushed, you might enjoy the more leisurely pace of bus travel. If you are under time pressure, the bus is probably not the best choice as it is subject to traffic delays and usually takes a little longer than other modes of transportation.

Overall, the bus is a great option for visitors to the US who are looking for transportation between major US cities and more remote destinations alike. As gas prices rise and train service sees more cuts, it will undoubtedly be an even more popular way to get around going forward.

Lila Kahn is the Marketing Manager of GotoBus.com, the leading online marketplace for bus tickets and tours in the USA. You can find out more information about the company and contact information for the author at: http://www.gotobus.com/

Daily bus service to San Diego Casinos

In mid-October, GotoBus began selling tickets for bus service to two San Diego area Casinos . Service to both Sycuan and Viejas Casinos departs twice daily from downtown San Diego. The bus even offers pickup from downtown hotels.

GotoBus.com has added Allentown and Bethlehem PA to the list of destinations it serves. The website now offers tickets for twice daily service between Allentown/Bethlehem and New York City. The morning and afternoon service will drop off in both downtown and midtown Manhattan and offer travelers a convenient, low cost option when traveling between Eastern Pennsylvania and New York.

Bus from NY to DC–the choices abound

No other route on the east coast has more options for low-price bus travel than New York-Wasington DC. The number of independent (or “chinatown”) bus lines that operate in the mid-Atlantic corridor is unmatched. The sheer competition has forced different carriers to find ways to be more competitive. Fortunately for consumers, this has not been limited to short-term price wars. The various carriers differentiate themselves from each other by offering different pick-up and drop-off locations and more convenient schedules. you can easily view all your options at GotoBus.com

GotoBus adds luxury Florida service in November

GotoBus.com will add luxury bus service for points throughout Florida. Beginning in mid-November the website will begin selling tickets for daily scheduled bus service between several popular destinations in Florida including Key West, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Marathon. The luxury bus service will include amenitities such as meals, entertainment, and beverages. Schedules and pricing can be viewed online. http://www.gotobus.com/