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Transportation Nation

Fung Wah Investigation Leads to 2nd, More Shocking Shut Down Order, Terrifying Quotes

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The U.S. Department of Transportation has again formally ordered Fung Wah Bus company, one of the most well known "Chinatown bus companies" credited with helping to pioneer the now popular business model of picking up passengers outside of bus terminals and charging very low fares.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ordered Fung Wah bus to halt operations between Boston and New York in late February after Massachusetts inspectors found cracks in the frames of many of the company's buses. Within days that order was escalated to a total shut down of the company.

Longtime riders bemoaned the loss of the discount bus they'd come to love and fear all at once. One even composed a music video tribute for the New Yorker.

Today's action from the U.S. DOT rescinds the previous shut down order and replaces it with another one that is more permanent. The original order was because the company would not cooperate with the investigations into poorly maintained fleet.

This shut down order cites "the absence of an effective systematic maintenance program," "fraudulent or intentionally false entries on inspection" and maintenance records, failing to monitor drivers to make sure they aren't on the road too long, not testing drivers for drugs or alcohol.

"Individually and cumulatively, these violations and conditions of operation substantially increase the likelihood of serious injury or death to Fung Wah Bus tarnsportation Inc. drivers, passengers and the motoring public," the order states.

The FMSCA investigation found that Fung Wah didn't just have a bad maintenance program, it had no maintenance program at all. "Indeed, to the extent that Fung Wah maintains vehicle inspection records and reports, these records and reports cannot be relied upon with any certainty because they purport to show that vehicles were inspected on dates for which the mechanic whose signature appears on those reports was not actually working."

If Fung Wah addresses all of that, the FMSCA could rescind the shut down order. But considering the "blatant disregard" for safety rules, it seems like a stretch to assume that will happen soon.

Here's the full out-of-service order.

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Transportation Nation

Video Tribute to Fung Wah: "I'll Think of You Always with Nostalgia and Fear"

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Was your heartbeat racing, as fast as your wheels?/ When you flipped over on the Mass Pike, like a clown on a peel (...of a banana)

It was just such fears that led the federal government to shutter Chinatown bus operator Fung Wah earlier this month.

Now, Marc Phillipe Eskenazi has composed a mournful musical tribute to the end of $15 bus service between New York and Boston.

The song, a parody of Bob Dylan's "Farewell Angelina," is filled with gems like:

I'll think of you always with nostalgia and fear / Ian Grossman from the Department of Transportation wants to watch you disappear

But in the back alleys of my mind you've never been so dear / farewell, Fung Wah, your engines may be crazy, but they still got me here.

(via The New Yorker.)

 

 

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Feds Shut Down Fung Wah

Friday, March 01, 2013

This just in from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

"WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today shut down Boston-based Fung Wah Bus Transportation’s using new authorities given to FMCSA under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

“Bus companies that jeopardize public safety and refuse to cooperate with our investigators have no place on the road, and now, thanks to our additional authority, we can take them off,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Safety is our highest priority, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that unsafe bus companies are not on our roads.”

"Earlier today, Fung Wah stopped cooperating with FMCSA safety investigators and blocked further access to company safety records. Under provisions contained in MAP-21, signed into law by President Obama in July 2012, FMCSA may revoke the operating authority registration of a motor carrier that fails to comply with an administrative subpoena or a letter demanding release of company safety records. This is the first case of FMCSA exercising this new provision to revoke a motor carrier’s federal operating authority.

“We will not hesitate to immediately shut down a bus or truck company that ignores safety regulations and puts innocent lives at risk,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “We will employ every tool we have to take unsafe commercial drivers, vehicles and entire companies off the road anywhere in the county at any time.”

On Tuesday, FMCSA ordered Fung Wah to immediately provide its entire fleet of 28 motorcoaches for thorough and detailed safety inspections by qualified inspectors. FMCSA’s safety investigators had continued their examination of Fung Wah’s operations through the rest of the week in order to consider further action against the company as a whole in addition to ordering its buses out of service."

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Transportation Nation

Fung Wah Halts Popular Long Distance Bus Service

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A screen shot of Fung Wah's website on Wednesday, February 27

One day after the federal government ordered Fung Wah's entire bus fleet off the road, the company has been barred from operating out of Boston's South Station.  And on Wednesday, the company said it would suspend service.

This ends -- if only temporarily -- Fung Wah's discount service between New York and Boston.

The company used rental buses to operate service between the two cities on Tuesday, but on Wednesday it put up notice on its web site saying it is suspending service until it can inspect and repair its fleet (see above.)

The federal government's order affected the 28 buses owned and operated by Fung Wah. Massachusetts has issued a blanket order that applies to all buses operated by Fung Wah, including vehicles it rents or leases.

“Due to the safety issues involved in the suspension of your company’s right to operate a passenger bus service for a substantial portion of your bus fleet, the MBTA insists that your company immediately cease all passenger bus operation from SSBT until further notice,” reads a letter delivered yesterday by attorneys for Newmark Knight & Frank Global Management Services, the MBTA's managing agent for the South Station Bus Terminal.

“In the interest of safety the MBTA cannot allow buses which have been suspended from operation, or any other buses which are not properly licensed and inspected to operate from SSBT.”

(Read the letter here. And read the U.S. DOT's order here.)

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Fung Wah's Bus Fleet Ordered Off the Road

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Permitted? It's complicated.

The entire passenger fleet of Chinatown bus company Fung Wah has been ordered off the road for an immediate safety inspection.

This news comes a day after the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities found cracks in many bus frames and asked the federal government to declare the company an "imminent safety hazard."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Fung Wah - which operates between New York and Boston for about $15 each way -- must cease transporting passengers on its 28 vehicles, which must be immediately taken off the road for inspection.

But, says a DOT spokesman, "the company, if it chooses, has the prerogative to rent or lease other vehicles; the company is not shut down."

A phone call to Fung Wah's New York offices earlier Tuesday afternoon would seem to bear this out, as the woman who answered the phone said the company was still operating buses between New York and Boston every hour.

From the DOT:

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Fung Wah Bus Transportation, Inc., to immediately cease passenger service and provide its entire fleet of 28 motorcoaches for thorough and detailed safety inspections by qualified inspectors. Going forward, FMCSA will continue to work closely with its state law enforcement partners in Massachusetts and New York to ensure the safety of the traveling public.

FMCSA’s safety investigators are continuing their examination of Fung Wah’s operations, including examining the safety records of its vehicles, drivers and other company safety performance requirements prescribed by federal regulations, and may consider additional actions against the company if warranted.

Beau Duffy, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Transportation, said in an email: "We are working with our partners at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the state of Massachusetts to ensure Fung Wah’s buses are not put back in service until they are inspected and any deficiencies are corrected."

 

 

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WNYC News

Fare Game: Traveling by Bus This Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

(Stephen Nessen)

(Stephen Nessen)

As WNYC's Lisa Chow reports, long-distance bus travel is gaining popularity for the first time in almost four decades. And the competition among bus companies in New York City is picking up speed too. Bus lines Greyhound and Peter Pan--already under ...

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