Passengers waiting at the Fung Wah Lines ticket window on Canal Street and the Bowery in Manhattan
A 2000 Coach bus in NYC, August 2004
Chinatown bus lines, also known as dragon buses, refers to the private transportation industry that has arisen in the Chinatown communities of the East Coast of the United States during the 1990s. Similar Chinese American-run bus services are cropping up on the West Coast.
The dragon buses typically use large (50 to 60 passenger) buses comparable to those used by other passenger bus lines and often screen movies for riders.
The first company to offer such service was the Fung Wah Bus, which began routes between New York City and Boston in 1995. The bus service was originally intended for transporting ethnic Chinese restaurant workers from one Chinatown to Chinatowns in other cities. The industry has quickly spread to many competitors offering discount prices that undercut the major bus lines. Typical fares between East Coast cities range from $10 to $20. The industry has become highly competitive with companies offering hourly service between major cities.
Increasing popularity has also lead to increasing regulatory interest and, in September 2004, the city of Boston required dragon bus services to shift their operations from the city's Chinatown to the South Station transportation terminal.
In addition to New York City and Boston, several bus line companies also link to the Chinatowns of Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Doraville in the Atlanta, Georgia area, and other cities. On the West Coast, buses link the Chinatowns in the San Francisco Bay area and the Silicon Valley, Los Angeles Chinatown and the San Gabriel Valley, and the Las Vegas Chinatown and casinos.
Passengers waiting to board the Travel Pack bus to Boston in Manhattan
The use of such lines is very informal. Often ticket booths are walk_up windows on the street, or are located inside restaurants and bakeries throughout a given Chinatown community. With the exception of Boston, the lines use no stations of their own, but passengers are usually directed to wait along a given curbside for the arrival of the bus. Several bus stops are also near major hotels and in the parking areas of major Chinese supermarkets. Given their relatively competitive fares to the mainstream Greyhound Lines, it has become popular among non-Chinese customers as well, especially students.
The bus service has gained such popularity that it was mentioned in several articles in the New York Times and on the radio programs Marketplace and Morning Edition on National Public Radio.
In early 2004, up to three murders in New York City were linked the possible infiltration of Asian organized crime gangs into the industry.
- IvyMedia (http://www.ivymedia.com/) compare, search and ticket most Chinatown bus lines (40+ bus lines)
- Todays Bus (http://www.todaysbus.com/)
- Apex Bus (http://www.apexbus.com/)
- Fung Wah Bus (http://www.fungwahbus.com/) (Boston and NYC)
- Lucky Star Bus (http://luckystarbus.com/)
- New Century Travel (http://www.2000coach.com/) (NYC, Washington, and Philadelphia)
- Dragon Coach
- Chinatown Bus (http://www.chinatown-bus.com/) — offers an overview of dragon buses