Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tape Recorded Guides?

Grey Line May Replace Guides With Tape Recordings

There actually are already Double-Deckers that use recordings now, like Big Taxi Tours. They suck. Nobody rides them even though they're cheaper. The market has decided this is a bad idea.

But Monopolies - like the one Twin America has on the Double-Decker Tour Bus Industry - can afford to ignore the market.

If this goes through what will happen (in addition to your tour being worse and jobs being lost), is that the bus drivers are going to be expected to do the job of the tour guide - answer questions, give directions, take abuse (and often times all in a foreign language). Driving a bus through Manhattan is difficult and stressful enough without this. With this, it's an impossible job to do safely. Getting rid of the guides is not only stupid, it's dangerous. It's going to lead to more accidents, not to mention more delays and traffic jams as drivers deal with confused or frustrated tourists.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ticket Seller Problems

More great reporting from, which is quickly becoming my favorite NYC news source. This time it's about double-decker tour bus ticket sellers being told by Twin America to keep selling on the street even though they may be ticketed.

Ticket seller is a tough hustle, and this makes it even tougher. For all of us who know the business, the company, and the owner this is not surprising. The business model of Twin America and the Marmursteins, who own both City Sights and Grey Line, has long been to shift as much risk as possible to the employees. There is no way the company is eating the cost of the tickets - the attitude is "you got caught, you pay it." I'm betting the only reason Alpha even talked to them is because they can't fire him - he's the best ticket seller they've got. Rumor has it he personally clears six figures a year.

Twin America is currently the subject of an anti-trust investigation. The owner, Jack Marmurstein, is also the owner of the bus route accussed of gender discrimination, and recently got leveled almost a half-million dollar fine for polluting the Gowanus Canal. No doubt he'll probably try to take it out of the paycheck of the bus mechanics he told to dump motor oil down the sewers. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Panel this Sunday

This should be interesting. Tour guides, as I've mentioned, are some of the quirkiest (to put it politely) characters out there in this city. Glad someone is doing a book and panel on it.  

Even though it's been a few years since I've been an active guide (hence the dormancy of this blog), you'll definitely be seeing me there.