Small Business: A Big Bus Battle

Chinese-owned firms in New York CityŠand Boston offer a vivid lesson in the perils of discount transport

The Chinatown bus business in New York City is a rough-and-tumble one, featuring supercheap fares along the Eastern seaboard, erratic schedules and cutthroat competition. But it got out of hand one night in May 2003. In the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, a Dragon Coach bus company driver named De Jian Chen, reportedly caught in the middle of a murky feud with another outfit, was shot dead.

Things have calmed down since the killing, as Chinatown buses have begun to professionalize their services. But traveling on the discount lines can still be harrowing. In front of the red-walled Mahayana Buddhist Temple,...

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