Last week, Andrew asked why the Antiplanner hadn’t commented on the federal shutdown of dozens of “Chinatown bus” companies, and the simple answer is that I hadn’t heard about it until then. Although my friends at the American Bus Association, whose members do not include the Chinatown bus companies, are happy about the shutdown, I am not so certain it is a good thing.
If the same criteria used to shut down the Chinatown buses were applied to the Washington Metrorail, Boston T, or Chicago Transit Authority, these systems would be shut down as well. At the moment, the federal government doesn’t have the authority to shut down urban transit systems for safety reasons, but Congress is considering giving it that authority. Can you see the FTA shutting down a major transit system just because it has deferred maintenance for years and its system is deteriorating faster than it can keep it up? I can’t. Somehow I think pressure from Greyhound, Megabus, and other larger carriers have as much to do with the Chinatown shutdowns than safety issues.