Early last week, Chinatown carrier Fung Wah Bus Services Inc. unveiled its newest feature aboard its luxury class shuttle from Boston to New York: personal plastic bags, each emblazoned with the company’s Neo-Confucian mantra “Have a nice day”. Shahba! Patel, manager and mastermind of the infamous bus company, could barely conceal his excitement when offering details of this surprise upgrade. Speaking to an audience of passengers waiting to board the bus, he exclaimed: “Ladies and gentlemen, Fung Wah has, unbelievably, found a way to enhance the experience aboard our flagship carrier with ‘Handi-bags’. We have spared no expense to deliver you the future of best-in-class luxury bus service!”
The blockbuster announcement marks the final component of Shabha!’s “5-Year Plan” that began in 1999. That year, in a brilliant maneuver that left competitors scratching their heads, Fung Wah became the first Chinatown bus service to offer separate classes for the human and chicken passengers. Not satisfied with these improvements, Mr. Patel introduced windows in 2001 and then quickly followed in 2003 with arm rests between seats (available only in Aluminum and Tin Classes).
All of these visionary enhancements were introduced ahead of schedule and were products of Fung Wah’s infamous R&D investment program. “Our R&D model is very similar to IDEO, although we’ve clearly revolutionized much more than a shopping cart. You see, we recognize that our success begins and ends with our investment in people. I think our R&D incentive program, which lets our scientists keep any items left on the bus, has really started paying dividends.”
With the high growth of the “price sensitive” passenger segment, Mr. Patel recognized the importance of offering enhanced accommodations. “Cheap people want more than value, they want their $15 bus tickets to command status. This complacency is precisely why JetBlue will be defeated in the long run: they will eventually allow people to realize they are cheap. On the other hand, I am constantly focusing on distracting my passengers with innovation. A personalized bag may seem like a huge investment, but it’s an important reminder that my customers are special.” When asked if the bags marked the beginning of a new five-year plan, Shahba! replied with a wink: “It’s all up to the ladies, if you know what I mean.” He was of course referring to his mom and sister, who are the actual equity holders of the bus company.
After meeting with some of the more frequent passengers on the bus, it was clear that the effects of the personalized bags were overwhelmingly positive.
“What a great touch!” remarked Monica Gyro (ND). “Besides the convenience of having a garbage bag right next to you that has made three or four round trips to New York, the message on the bag reminds me to have a nice day. I end up leaving the bus with a new outlook on life and people – not just thinking about my back spasms!”
Twenty-nine year old Wes Yoyo of Mahwah, New Jersey, exclaimed: “I would have preferred a driver without anger management problems, but a bag is pretty damn close!”
Tate McGillicuddy, a 10-year Chinatown bus faithful, called the bags a blessing: “These bags were a Godsend. Like many passengers, I’ve delivered three of my children on board various Chinatown buses. Fung Wah was the first to understand the situation and turn it into an opportunity. The bag gives me an option – not just when going into labor, but also when deciding whether or not to leave my diapers in the overhead compartment. It’s the value proposition that we as passengers have been waiting a decade for.”
Sean B., a 30-year old ex-convict from Green Bay, didn’t see the immediate use for plastic bags, but eventually understood its purpose. “I didn’t give a rat’s ass about those plastic bags. But after sitting next to some woman who subjected me to an hour long cell phone conversation with her dog, Tiki – I found a way to ‘create value.”
“It’s a given in the industry that Chinatown buses will never be able to improve the maniacal driving styles nor the constant braking,” says Beth M. of Back Bay. “The bags are the next best solution. By blowing up the bag and placing it behind your head, you can reduce whiplash by 35%. These Fung Wah guys are way ahead of the technology curve.”
You can bet your bus ticket that Mr. Patel is fast at work on another set of mind-blowing technological enhancements. Stolen blueprints, reprinted on the internet, suggest that the R&D team is developing latches for their bathroom doors and +15-watt reading lamps. If you are a Fung Wah faithful like myself, stayed tuned – you will want to be there when Shahba! brings his next vision to life.