Fung Wah Bus Company's Safety Lapses Revealed in Federal Report, DOT Says

By Serena Solomon on March 28, 2013 8:07pm 

 Passengers board a Fung Wah bus in Chinatown.
Passengers board a Fung Wah bus in Chinatown.
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DNAinfo/Patrick Hedlund

CHINATOWN — The federal Department of Transportation released more information Thursday on the dangers of Fung Wah Bus, including that the company allegedly falsified safety records, nearly a month after the DOT shut down the company over safety concerns.

On March 1, the DOT slapped the bus company with an out-of-service order, labeling it an imminent hazard, when Fung Wah, a pioneer in Chinatown's cheap bus market, denied investigators access to its records.

Since that original order, investigators "found evidence of significant problems and dangerous conditions" on Fung Wah's fleet of 29 buses, according to a statement from the DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. 

The so-called Chinatown buses like Fung Wah, which ferry intercity riders from curbside stops at cheap prices, have recently come under scrutiny for their safety records.

In the weeks since the DOT shut down Fung Wah, inspectors found the company did not maintain its vehicles and falsified its own inspection records, according to the DOT.

The report found that Fung Wah, which transported passengers between Boston and New York, failed to ensure drivers were qualified to drive motor coaches and failed to investigate drivers' backgrounds.

The report also detailed the many steps Fung Wah would need to take to resume operations, including bringing its buses up to safety codes and "drastically changing its maintenance posture, philosophy and infrastructure."

Fung Wah could not immediately be reached for comment.

The company, which had been in business for 10 years, isn’t the only carrier to be shut down in recent weeks. Days after Fung Wah closed, the DOT also shut down Ming An, which had routes from Chinatown that ran along the East Coast.

Low-cost, intercity buses have been involved in several accidents over the past couple of years, including a March 2011 crash that left 15 people dead when a Chinatown-bound bus flipped over in The Bronx.

In May 2012, the federal government shut down 26 bus lines running through Chinatown.

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