Bus Companies’ Shutdown Leaves Chinatown Shops Struggling

After the government shut down three bus companies in Chinatown, Allen Street has seen less foot traffic, to the dismay of local business owners. (Photo by Fan Meng/World Journal)

Earlier this month, World Journal reported that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shut down three bus companies in Chinatown. Last week, it ran a follow-up story that detailed the effects of the shutdown on businesses in the area. The article is translated from Chinese below. 

On May 13, the federal government shut down several Chinatown bus companies, including New Century Travel, Apex Bus and I-95 Coach. Business in the neighborhood has suffered since. Several supermarket, restaurant, jewelry store and convenience store owners said that foot traffic has decreased, with some reporting up to a 66-percent loss in profit.

Store owners who operate along Allen Street, East Broadway and Division Street said they have lost a great deal of business between Sunday and Thursday because their usual customers were out-of-state workers who would shop before boarding their buses. Store owners on Bayard and Canal Streets said they noticed fewer customers have passed by on the weekends.  Some owners said that they hope their stores will be in business long enough to see the bus lines reopen. Others were less optimistic, and predicted that many stores would close.

Mrs. Chu, who manages a restaurant in the neighborhood, estimated that she has lost at least 5,000 potential customers due to the shutdown of the 26 bus lines in her area.

Mr. Wu, who operates a beverage shop on Allen Street that serves mostly non-Chinese customers, said that his revenues have decreased by two-thirds, and that he is thinking about selling his shop.

“Can the government subsidize us business owners?” he asked.

Mr. Wong, who owns a restaurant, pointed out that Allen Street has become a “ghost street” and that food and beverage shops nearby have been greatly affected.

Mr. Lin, who owns a supermarket on East Broadway, said he believes that his profits have decreased by as much as 40 percent.  He said many out-of-state workers used to buy his products in bulk quantities.

Mr. Chang, who has operated a convenience store on East Broadway for close to nine years, said his business revenues have decreased by 50 percent.

“On the day of the shut down, customers suddenly disappeared,” he explained. “We Fujianese folks always want to stick to one job. If our businesses don’t improve, we have to close down.”

“After 9/11, our business has not recovered,” said Ms. Chen, who sells jewelry on Canal Street. “Now, it is even more depressing.  I really don’t know how this happened.”

Ms. Wong, who owns a gift shop on Bayard Street, said that her business is supposed to be better on the weekends than on the weekdays, but she added that there is no difference in the profits now.

Edited by Justin Chan

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