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Yo! Bus Gives Up on Chinatown While Industry as a Whole Thrives

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Pike Street, December 2012.
Pike Street, December 2012.

CityLab (a publication of The Atlantic) takes a look at a new study showing that the intercity (“Chinatown”) bus business is once again booming. More about that in a moment. Within the story there’s a tidbit of special interest locally.

It turns out Yo! Bus, which was launched by Greyhound and Peter Pan in 2012, is kaput. It seems the service went out of business last month after three years of apparently stiff competition trying to gain an upper hand against scrappy Chinatown-based operators.

Here’s what you see if you try to go to Yo! website:

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 3.07.34 PM

The two national bus companies started Yo! Bus after the federal government shut down a large number of Chinatown operators in 2012 for safety violations. Greyhound and Peter Pan sensed an opportunity, while many local operators saw a scheme to crush small competitors who pioneered the discount bus industry in the early 2000s. On the Lower East Side, there was an outcry when Yo! tried to establish a mini-bus terminal alongside Seward Park. The company was forced to set up its operation on Pike Street instead.

As for the larger story, CityLab relied on a report conducted by Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University and spoke with the study author:

“We think the sector contracted 25 to 30 percent after the crackdowns,” says Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute… “They were written off as yesterday’s mode.” Far from dead, turns out the Chinatown bus is alive and better than ever. In a new report, the Chaddick Institute finds that the sector rebounded from a post-crackdown ridership decline in 2013 to tally an estimated 5.3 million passenger-trips a year in 2015. Chinatown buses now operate 48.5 million annual miles of service—up 14 percent from a 2013 dip to 42.6 million, and up 26 percent since 2008.

Interestingly, the report found that much of the growth is not occurring in New York and other urban centers, but in smaller towns. You can read the entire CityLab story here.

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