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Fung Wah Bus Company's Return to City Streets Shot Down by Feds

By Lisha Arino | October 2, 2014 7:21am
 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 government has slammed the brakes on Chinatown bus operator Fung Wah’s latest attempt to return to the road.

The discount carrier has been trying to get rolling again for more than a year since federal regulators shut the company down for safety violations.

But the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is not convinced that Fung Wah has made sufficient safety upgrades, records show. The agency rejected Fung Wah's application for a new operating license last January and then rejected Fung Wah's appeal on Sept. 11.

“The agency denied Fung Wah's most recent appeal for operating authority because they failed to provide sufficient evidence on how they would comply with federal safety standards, including how they would conduct future drug testing, how they would properly train their staff moving forward, and any corrective action that was taken to counsel or discipline the staff who falsified records in the past,” the FMCSA said in a statement.

“Safety is our top priority and we are focused on removing dangerous bus companies from the road to protect the public and prevent crashes,” the statement continued.

Before it was shut down, Fung Wah ran up to 24 daily trips between Boston and New York for $15 a ticket, making it a hit for budget-conscious travelers.

Federal officials revoked the company's license in March 2013 after the bus operator failed to cooperate with safety inspectors and blocked access to some of its safety records. A week earlier, the federal Department of Transportation pulled the company's entire fleet off the road.

At the time, FMCSA said investigators “found systemic safety problems, including cracked bus frames, fraudulent vehicle maintenance records, widespread hours-of-service violations and the company’s failure to screen drivers for drugs."

When Fung Wah first tried to get its license back, FMCSA rejected the company’s Application for Motor Passenger Carrier Authority on Jan. 24, 2014, records show.

Fung Wah appealed on March 5, saying it had improved its safety procedures and complied with the federal agency’s requests.

Fung Wah said it had conducted comprehensive reviews and safety audits, sold 10 of its oldest coaches, hired a full-time safety manager to train and oversee drivers and mechanics and retained a company to ensure compliance with FMCSA regulations, according to the appeal. 

But those claims did not satisfy federal regulators, who rejected the appeal last month.

Despite the rejection, Fung Wah could still return to the roads. Federal officials agreed to review the company's application again after giving Fung Wah an additional 30 days to show that they meet safety standards, according to an order issued last month. 

Alexander Linzer, Fung Wah’s attorney, said the company has until Oct. 10 to submit its evidence. After the deadline, FMCSA will have another 30 days to decide whether or not to grant the license, he said.

“We’re going to submit evidence in accordance with the order,” Linzer said. “We’re hopeful that they’ll let us back on the road.”