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Bus horrors don't deter thrifty travelers


gsr Credit: RJ Mickelson

Just days after a pair of horrific bus accidents in New Jersey and the Bronx left 17 people dead and dozens injured, riders said they aren’t going to stop taking their comfy carriers with bargain prices.

“I’m a college student! I can’t afford to be picky about price,” said Alex Arifi, 20, of the Upper East Side as he boarded a Bolt Bus on 34th street to Boston with a promotion ticket costing 50 cents.

J.W. Kendall, a New World Tours bus driver, acknowledged that cheap prices often outweigh any other consideration.

“Sometimes they come and ask me how much (the fare) is,” he said. “I tell them $30 and they say, ‘I’ll take the Chinatown bus – it’s $10 cheaper.’ ”

Kendall said not one passenger mentioned the crashes to him.

Dale Moser, CEO of, said low prices don’t necessarily mean less safety.

In fact, motor coach travel is safer than driving your car, said Peter J. Pantuso, of the American Bus Association. Motor coaches transport 750 million passengers a year, with 10 to 20 on board fatalities annually, he said.

While federal rules limit drivers from being behind the wheel more than 10 hours, driver fatigue was the cause in 37 percent of motor coach crashes from 1998 to 2008, an NTSB report found.

In the wake of the fatal wrecks, a bill is being reintroduced in the U.S. Senate to strengthen bus safety and improve driver training.

But in the meantime, riders will still line up for cheap rides.

Drew Lawrence, 22, a Harvard student from Plainfield, NJ., said all his friends use buses to get to and from New York. Regional bus lines like Bolt, said Lawrence, are simply “the cheapest way to go.”

By the numbers:

— 750 million passengers use motor coaches annually

— 56% of crashes are to blame on driver’s fatigue, inattention or medical condition

— 60% of crashes involving fatalities were the driver’s fault

(Source NTSB report covering the years 1999-2008)

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