Jim Epstein on the Bogus Federal Study Behind the Government's Crackdown on Chinatown Buses
In 1997, Chinese-born entrepreneurs began regularly scheduled long-distance bus services that picked up passengers on the street. Today, "curbside" buses—lines that begin and end their routes at the sidewalk as opposed to a traditional station—make up the fastest growing form of intercity travel in the U.S. But over the past two years, the government has forced 27 bus companies based in Chinatown to close. The regulatory clampdown was fueled by a government study that found curbside carriers were disproportionately killing their passengers. Released by the National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency, the study concluded that curbside bus companies were "seven times" more likely to be involved in an accident with at least one fatality than conventional bus operators. But as Jim Epstein reports, the study is bogus. Not only is the "seven times" finding incorrect, the entire report is a mangle of inaccurate charts and numbers that tell us virtually nothing meaningful about bus safety. There's no evidence that curbside or Chinatown buses are any less safe than any other kind of bus.