CHINATOWN — In the months before the federal Department of Transportation shut down the infamous Fung Wah Bus Company, several of its employees gave more than $1,600 in donations to City Councilwoman Margaret Chin's reelection campaign.
Chin, a supporter of tighter laws to govern the city's "wild west" intercity bus market that's concentrated in Chinatown, received a total of $1,670 in donations from eight different employees at Fung Wah since December, according to the Campaign Finance Board's website.
The DOT permanently revoked the license of Fung Wah on March 1 after inspectors found cracks in 21 of its 28 buses and company owners denied the department access to its safety records.
Seven donations of $200 and one of $220 to Chin were recorded on Jan. 9 by employees who listed their role in the company as "clerk," "ticket agent" and "bus cleaner," among other jobs.
Another donation of $250 was received on the Dec. 27 from Pei Lin Liang who is listed as driver for Fung Wah.
"Margaret has known the owners of Fung Wah for a long time and they have supported her in numerous campaigns," Chin's communications director Kelly Magee wrote in an email to DNAinfo.com New York.
"Fung Wah Transportation is one of the oldest bus companies in Chinatown (operating since 1996) and has a relatively good track record," continued Magee, adding the councilwoman was surprised when the DOT shut down the company.
No one answer a call to Fung Wah's 139 Canal Street ticket office.
In recent campaign filings Chin as raised a total of $109,585 for her reelection campaign, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board website.
Last week, Chin along with other elected officials called for the city's Department of Transportation to tighten rules for the intercity low-cost buses that use the New York City sidewalk as a bus stop.
"She is absolutely a supporter of tougher laws to regulate this industry," Magee confirmed in the email.
In recent months city, state and federal authorities have began cracking down on buses after a string of accidents, including a March 2011 crash that left 15 people dead.
The federal DOT shut down 26 bus lines last May, and continued their crackdown earlier this month when it shut down Fung Wah and another intercity bus carrier, Ming An.