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Chinatown Bus Company Shut Down by Feds Over Safety Violations

By Patrick Hedlund | December 29, 2011 3:05pm
Passengers board a Chinatown bus bound for Boston.
Passengers board a Chinatown bus bound for Boston.
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DNAinfo/Patrick Hedlund

MANHATTAN — A Chinatown bus carrier was ordered off the road by federal transportation officials this week after the company was deemed an "imminent hazard" to passengers for multiple safety violations.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration put the brakes on Pennsylvania-based Double Happyness Travel, Inc., which has an office on East Broadway in Chinatown and runs buses from Manhattan to Albany, Baltimore and Wilmington, Del.

The company was cited for failure to monitor its drivers' hours of service and qualification requirements, violations of drivers' drug and alcohol testing requirements, and vehicle inspection and maintenance infractions, the agency said.

The move comes at the end of a year in which multiple fatal crashes involving Chinatown-bound buses occurred, including a fatal wreck in the Bronx that killed 15 passengers and another in Virginia that killed four.

"Safety is our highest priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement announcing the company's closure.

"During this busy holiday travel season, we will remain vigilant in our efforts to protect bus passengers and all motorists from unsafe bus companies."

The company’s owner, Chen Lunbing, acknowledged that Double Happyness' buses have been pulled from the roads, but said investigators were "targeting [the carrier] unfairly."

The feds' most recent safety review of the company found "violations… so widespread as to demonstrate a continuing and flagrant general disregard for compliance… [and] a management philosophy indifferent to motor carrier safety," the order stated.

Among the company's violations were four regarding drug and alcohol testing, such as the carrier giving work to two drivers before receiving their drug test results, the agency said.

Additionally, Double Happyness was cited seven times for violating commercial driver's license and driver qualification requirements, including a failure to inquire about driving records.

The company also violated hours-of-service regulations by making 49 false reports regarding driver duty activities, as well as five separate violations for vehicle inspection and maintenance regulations, the agency said.

Doubly Happyness must comply with the order by resolving the violations before it can return its buses to the road, the agency added.