14 January 2008

Chinatown Bus Mauls Woman On Canal / Death Of An Illegal Turtle Salesman


1. a process, now often replaced by more advanced methods, for making metal printing plates by taking a mold of composed type or the like in papier-mâché or other material and then taking from this mold a cast in type metal.

2. a plate made by this process.

3. a set form; convention.

4. Sociology. a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group: The cowboy and Indian are American stereotypes.

–verb (used with object)
5. to make a stereotype of.

6. to characterize or regard as a stereotype: The actor has been stereotyped as a villain.

7. to give a fixed form to.

I have friends who live and die by the infamous Chinatown buses. It's like $10 or $20 and it takes you from NYC's Chinatown in the murky cobblestoned shadows of the Manhattan Bridge to a sister Chinatown of your choice; you can choose from DC, Philly or Boston. Cancel at any time. Just set it and, forget it!

The name Fung Wah comes from the Cantonese pronunciation of a Chinese name which means "magnificent wind."

OK, so my question is this: how long must something be a stereotype before it becomes more than just a stereotype?

For instance how long did we all joke about priests touching little boys before the world realised that some priests do actually touch little boys? For better or for worse, and whether we want to admit it or not, there is truth in every stereotype.

Not all priests touch kids, sure, and not all Asians drive horribly but some most certainly do. I can only speak from experience and ten times out of eleven, when someone is driving erratically, when I finally pass by them, its a Asian person driving. Men and women. They just haven't mastered the art of operating a motor vehicle yet. I guess I should be patient.

Yet still people line up in droves and hand over their money with glee to put their lives in jeopardy for a few hours on the highways and byways of our fair Northeast.

Perhaps if the Chinatown buses were billed more as amusement rides it might make more sense? Like Action Park where you had to sign your life away before you did that death-defying Tarzan rope swing thing?

And like Action Park, the Chinatown bus cult popularity seem to go hand in hand with a reputation for poorly-designed, unsafe rides; inattentive, underaged, underpaid and sometimes under-the-influence employees; equally intoxicated and underprepared visitors — and the poor safety record that followed from this perfect storm of circumstances.

Most all bus drivers are driving under extreme duress; they've been up for 36 hours straight, they're working off lifelong debts to the Chinese mob and they're chain smoking Viceroys three at a time. All while defying the laws of physics and shaving three to four hours off trips that would (and probably should) normally take up to seven.

To the pilots of these Chinatown coaches, those yellow lanes in the road are simply concepts, or ideas. Polite suggestions, if you will, to help them along their path.

To them I-90 is their canvas and their steering wheel their paint brush.

I've contended with these guys doing 85 in the center/right lane towards Framingham at 7:30 in the morning. You haven't lived until you've felt the rush of adrenalin as you finally decide you've had enough of weaving through their wake and you overtake them. Nothing gets your blood pumping like cheating death and spitting, defiantly, in the face of fate about four miles from Meriden.

I've never had a friend take one of these buses and not come back with a horrifying story; from people getting stabbed on line from pushing and shoving into crowded, oversold buses to live animals aboard or at least humans who smelled like live animals. It's sort of like the terrestrial equivalent of Pakistani Airlines.

As you can imagine the Fung Wah bus co. has been involved in several safety-related incidents from drivers fleeing crash sites to buses spotaneously combusting. In 2005, the company was given a federal safety rating of 73 out of 100, 100 being the worst, and 75 or above considered at risk of being unsafe and subject to investigation.

Ian Grossman of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that Fung Wah drivers rated in the worst 2% of drivers nationwide based on regulatory violations, and 9 out of 71 Fung Wah drivers were suspended after inspection between 2004 and 2006.

On March 18, 2005, a Boston-bound Chinatown bus operated by Lucky Star/Travel Pak stopped and evacuated its passengers on the Massachusetts Turnpike shortly before bursting into flames.

On August 16, 2005: A New York-bound bus caught fire on Interstate 91 near Meriden, Connecticut. Though the passengers later criticised the driver for being unhelpful and untrained in evacuating the bus, all passengers were eventually evacuated and no injuries were reported.

A year later on August 15, 2006, a Shun Fa bus travelling from New York to Pittsburgh crashed; 10 passengers were injured, with 5 requiring hospitalisation.

On September 6, 2006: A bus rolled over in Auburn, Massachusetts, injuring 34 passengers. Excessive speed was cited as a factor and the bus company was fined.

On January 3, 2007: In Framingham, Massachusetts, a New York-bound bus lost its back two wheels.

On February 14, 2007: The driver of a New York-bound lost control in a winter storm and hit a guardrail on the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) in Allston, Massachusetts.

Four days later on February 18, 2007, a bus operated by Sunshine Travel burst into flames on the Massachusetts Turnpike near interchange 10A in Millbury, Mass. The cause of the fire is unknown. The bus was returning to the Chinatown in Boston from Mohegan Sun.

On March 23, 2007: A New York-bound bus got stuck on a concrete barrier in front of a tollbooth on the Massachusetts Turnpike at Route 128 in Weston, Mass, when the bus drove up on a cement lane divider. The driver had entered an automobile-only lane and tried to change lines.

And now a 92-year-old lady was run over and dragged by one of these kamikazes yesterday afternoon. Her injuries were so bad that her legs had to be amputated at Bellevue.

The bus dragged the 92-year old woman halfway down the block before passers-by could flag down the driver.

The driver, who gave his name only as Gao, said, "The light was green."

Hahahah oh my god.

Cops or whoever the fuck handles this type of lunacy often make surprise inspections down on East Broadway where these buses corral. The inspections almost always end in numerous buses being pulled out of service and drivers darting from the cops through the dark alleys of Forsyth Street at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge.

I guess this is just a side effect of the underdog immigrant success against monopolist bullies like Peter Pan or Greyhound.

Happy Fun Bus

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

messed up.