Money-conscious people commuting between Boston and New York City have suffered from a transportation loss for nearly two years, after the infamous and ultra-cheap Fung Wah bus service, based in NYC’s Chinatown, was shut down by federal officials in March 2013 for violating safety standards. According to recent news sources, however, the bus service has just received permission from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to resume operations, after a reported $400,000 worth of bus repairs and driver training sessions.
The Boston Globe explains that Fung Wah’s shutdown was part of a massive safety investigation, conducted by the FMCSA and affecting hundreds of bus companies across the country — including 110 different companies which were required to cease operations due to poor safety ratings.
After Massachusetts officials revoked Fung Wah’s license in March for violations in safety regulations, it only took a month before federal officials ordered the company to shut down permanently, or at least until all of the necessary repairs could be made so that the company buses (and drivers) could pass federal inspections.
Looking at the list of Fung Wah’s safety transgressions, it’s almost surprising that the company was able to pass federal inspections after less than two years.
As a company that was once “held together with safety pins and duct-tape,” to use the words of Gothamist contributor Rebecca Fishbein, it somehow managed to offer $10 bus trips between Boston and New York for years, even after its buses were directly involved in fatal accidents.
Fishbein notes that initial inspections of the company’s buses unearthed “cracked frames, structural damage, fudged inspection reports, and broken doors.” The buses were ruled “imminently hazardous” for every person in or around them; numerous crashes — including one in 2006 that injured 33 passengers, and another in 2013 involving two pedestrians being run over by a company bus — prove that federal officials’ descriptions of Fung Wah were unsettling accurate.
Interestingly enough, the dumpiness of Fung Wah seems to have been the primary reason for the company’s loyal passengers; nevertheless, there clearly needs to be a line somewhere between safety and comfortable messiness.
Perhaps the days of $10 bus trips are over for Fung Wah and its passengers, and perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing. If the company’s current dedication is any indication, it shouldn’t be too hard for Fung Wah to find another sketchy way to transport passengers between cities.