Fung Wah Bus Transportation

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Fung Wah Bus Transportation, Inc.
image
Fung Wah Bus Van Hool C2045 #98 makes a stopover in eastern Connecticut along its route.
Founded 1996 by Pei Lin Liang
Defunct 2013 (pending remediation)
Headquarters 25 Edinboro Street, Boston, MA 02111
Locale Northeastern United States
Service area New York City and Boston
Service type Line-run service
Routes 1
Stations 2
Fleet 28[1]
Website fungwahbus.com

Fung Wah Bus Transportation Inc. (Traditional Chinese: 風華巴士有限公司, Simplified Chinese: 风华巴士有限公司) is a bus company that formerly operated a line run between Boston and New York City, United States, using a fleet of over two dozen buses to operate hourly scheduled service between South Station in Boston and Manhattan's Chinatown.[2]

The name Fung Wah came from the Cantonese pronunciation of the Chinese name , which means "magnificent wind."[3]

With fares lower than other bus and rail carriers between New York City and Boston (as low as $10 during a fare war[4]) Fung Wah had become a popular with young people and other travelers on a budget.[5] In early 2013, Massachusetts and Federal authorities, issued a series of safety citations, declared it to be an "imminent hazard to public safety", imposed operating restrictions, and ultimately ordered Fung Wah to cease all operations.[6][7] As of February 2014, it had attempted to restart service, but not been permitted to do so.[8]

History[edit]

Fung Wah was founded in New York City in 1996, as Fung Wah Transport Vans, Inc., by Pei Lin Liang, who had immigrated from Zhuhai, China in 1988. Before founding the company, Liang had worked as a driver for Four Seas, a local dollar van service that shuttled Chinese garment and restaurant workers from Sunset Park in Brooklyn to Chinatown in Manhattan.[9] Fung Wah began as a direct competitor with Liang's former employer.[10] The Chinese characters of the company's name were written in English as Fenghua Jieyun Gongsi and translated as Elegant Rapid Transit Company.[11] Translations of "Fung Wah" from Cantonese included Chinese Wind[11] and Magnificent Wind.[citation needed]

In 1997, Liang borrowed $60,000 and bought four vans[12] at the request of customers who wanted to visit their children in college in Boston,[10] and gradually grew to being a low cost intercity transit provider.[13] As the first of the Chinatown bus lines, Fung Wah operated between designated curbside locations only.[14] By 2003, Fung Wah and competitors like Lucky Star Bus were competing fiercely, with low prices and allegations of crime connections at other competitors.[15] While it originally operated curbside out of Boston's Chinatown, Fung Wah moved to the nearby Boston South Station bus terminal in 2004 due to traffic concerns from Boston city government.[9][16] Between 1997 and 2007, Chinatown buses like Fung Wah took 60% of Greyhound Lines' market share in the northeast United States.[17]

On June 15, 2009, Fung Wah expanded service to Rhode Island at the Kennedy Plaza bus terminal[18] in downtown Providence, but discontinued this route in 2010.[citation needed]

In February 2013, Massachusetts found cracked frames on Fung Wah buses and ordered most of its fleet off the road.[6] In March 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declared Fung Wah an "imminent hazard to public safety" and ordered it to cease all operations with its then-current fleet.[7] On March 28, 2013, the US Department of Transportation ordered the company to immediately suspend all service.[19] In September 2013, it was reported that both Fung Wah and Lucky Star lines (another "Chinatown bus" line) had done extensive work, training, and purchases hoping to get their bus lines operating again. There would be a re-filing for their operating licenses and possible limited resumption of service in Fall 2013.[20] On February 7, 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration denied Fung Wah's request to resume operations, claiming the company "was not willing nor able to comply" with federal intercity bus safety standards. Fung Wah's law firm, the New York firm Freeman Lewis LLC, appealed the decision.[8]

Safety[edit]

Fung Wah buses have been involved in several safety-related incidents. In 2005, the company was given a federal safety rating of 73 out of 100, 100 being the worst, and 75 or above considered at risk of being unsafe and subject to crashes.[10] Ian Grossman of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (United States Department of Transportation) reported that Fung Wah drivers rated in the worst 2 percent of drivers nationwide based on regulatory violations, and nine out of 71 Fung Wah drivers were suspended after inspection between 2004 and 2006.[13]

  • August 16, 2005: A New York-bound bus caught fire on Interstate 91 near Meriden, Connecticut. Though the passengers later criticized the driver for being unhelpful and untrained in evacuating the bus, all passengers were eventually evacuated and no injuries were reported.[21]
  • September 6, 2006: A bus rolled over in Auburn, Massachusetts and caused minor injuries to 34 passengers.[22] Excessive speed was cited as a factor and the bus company was fined.[23]
  • January 3, 2007: In Framingham, Massachusetts, a New York-bound bus lost two of its rear wheels. No injuries were reported.[24]
  • February 14, 2007: The driver of a New York-bound bus lost control in a winter storm and hit a guardrail on the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) in Allston, Massachusetts. No injuries were reported.[25]
  • March 23, 2007: A New York-bound bus got stuck on a concrete barrier in front of a tollbooth on the Massachusetts Turnpike at Route 128 in Weston, Massachusetts, when the bus drove up on a cement lane divider. The driver had entered an automobile-only lane and tried to change lanes. No one was injured in the incident, but the bus was taken out of service and passengers boarded another Fung Wah bus that arrived later.[26]
  • June 23, 2008: A bus loading passengers was struck by an out of control dump truck at the corner of Bowery and Canal Street in New York’s Chinatown. The force of the impact pushed the bus onto the sidewalk and into a bank. As the result of the accident, a sign attached to a light pole fell, injuring a 57-year-old woman; the woman later died as the result of a heart attack. Several people, including two police officers, were treated for minor injuries.[27][28][29] State Department of Transportation inspectors found the dump truck, owned by CPQ Freight Systems, had eight mechanical issues including faulty brakes which led to the accident.[30]
  • There were no crash incidents reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (United States Department of Transportation) by states for 24 months prior to December 26, 2011.[31]
  • February 25, 2013: The company pulled nearly its entire fleet off the road with 21 of 28 buses after inspectors from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities found multiple structural cracks in several buses. The company reduced their service from every half hour to hour, and used rental buses in place of the fleet.[1]
  • February 26, 2013: As a result of the structural damage discovered the day before, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ordered Fung Wah to "immediately cease passenger service" indefinitely and to park its remaining seven buses.[32]
  • March 1, 2013: The FMCSA formally cancels the motor carrier docket (MC 405969, USDOT 954187) and operating authority of Fung Wah after Fung Wah blocked access to safety records. As such, Fung Wah cannot charter buses to meet service.[33]

Discrimination lawsuit[edit]

In January 2004 the Fung Wah Bus Company refused to sell tickets to a blind couple traveling with a guide dog under the company's policy barring pets from buses. Even when informed by the couple, and later by police responding to a disturbance call, that they had the right to board the bus with a service animal, the company refused to allow the couple to buy a ticket.

In conjunction with the Massachusetts Attorney General, the couple later filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company. Per the Attorney General's office: "Massachusetts law prohibits discrimination against blind persons and requires businesses to allow service animals in their establishments even when there is an existing “no pet” policy, as long as the animal is controlled and does not otherwise pose an undue burden."

In July 2007, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination awarded the couple $60,000 in damages, assessed a $10,000 civil penalty payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and ordered the company to take several steps to prevent discrimination in the future.[34][35]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Johnston, Katie (February 25, 2013). "Fung Wah company pulls buses off the road after state inspections find structural cracks". Boston Globe (Boston). Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  2. ^ Carrier Overview: Fung Wah", US Department of Transportation
  3. ^ http://www.vice.com/read/the-passing-of-a-magnificent-wind
  4. ^ Luo, Michael (21 February 2004). "In Chinatown, a $10 Trip Means War; Weary Owners Struggle to Stay Afloat in Cutthroat Competition". New York Times. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Derouchie, Daniel. "Fung Wah Buses: The Lines are Long, but the Price is Right". GoNomad.com. 
  6. ^ a b Johnston, Katie (26 February 2013). "Fung Wah removes 21 buses from fleet Cracks found in vehicles’ frames". Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Fung Wah Bus Transportation, Inc., Ordered to Cease All Operations". FMCA Newsroom. US Department of Transportation. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2014. "An investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has found Fung Wah Bus Transportation, Inc., of Boston, Mass., to be an imminent hazard to public safety and ordered to cease all passenger operations." 
  8. ^ a b Johnston, Katie (February 7, 2014). "Federal officials keep Fung Wah off the road". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 8, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Farivar, Cyrus, "Murder and Vice on the Lower East Side: The Past, Present and Future of the 'Chinatown Buses'", Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, March 21, 2005
  10. ^ a b c Donovan, Slack (September 4, 2005). "Ratings signal warning for fast-growing Fung Wah". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on October 1, 2005. Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  11. ^ a b Collins, Clayton (15 September 2006). "Backstory: Travel noir – the Fung Wah 'extreme'". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Luo, Michael (21 February 2004). "In Chinatown, a $10 Trip Means War; Weary Owners Struggle to Stay Afloat in Cutthroat Competition". New York Times. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Collins, Clayton (September 15, 2006). "Backstory: Travel noir - the Fung Wah 'extreme'". Christian Science Monitor. 
  14. ^ Carpenter, Mackenzie (August 16, 2006). "'Chinatown bus services' have grown quickly since 1998". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. , Aug. 16, 2006
  15. ^ O'Shaughnessy, Patrice (16 June 2003). "Chinatown Bus War Fuels Probe: Slain businessman tied to mob, cops say". New York Daily News. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  16. ^ Gross, Courtney (January 23, 2005). "Loyal riders now moved to choose". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-03-23. 
  17. ^ Schliefer, Theodore (2013-08-08). "Bus travel is picking up, aided by discount operators". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 25 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Makishima, Paul (June 9, 2009). "Fung Wah Bus plans Providence-NY bus service". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on September 6, 2010. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  19. ^ "US DOT Orders Fung Wah Bus To Immediately Cease Passenger Service". CBS News New York. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  20. ^ Johnston, Katie, "Fung Wah, Lucky Star may be on the road again soon", The Boston Globe, September 27, 2013.
  21. ^ Ross, Casey (August 16, 2005). "Flames engulf Fung Wah bus in Connecticut". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-01-24. 
  22. ^ "34 hurt, driver cited for Fung Wah bus rollover in Auburn". The Boston Globe. September 6, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-24. [dead link]
  23. ^ "Fung Wah bus company fined $31K for rollover". The Boston Globe. October 31, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-24. [dead link]
  24. ^ "Fung Wah Bus Loses Wheels". WCVB-TV. January 3, 2007. 
  25. ^ "Fung Wah Bus Crashes On Turnpike". WCVB-TV. February 14, 2007. 
  26. ^ Ryan, Tim (March 23, 2007). "Fung Wah Bus Involved In Mishap". WCVB-TV. Retrieved 2007-03-23. 
  27. ^ Noah Bierman (June 24, 2008). "Boston-bound bus hit by truck in NYC; pedestrian is killed". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  28. ^ "Bus Crashes Into Bank In Manhattan". WNYW. June 23, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-23. [dead link]
  29. ^ "One Dead, Four Injured When Bus Jumps Curb In Chinatown", NY1 News, June 23, 2008
  30. ^ El-Ghobashy, Tamer (June 25, 2008). "Rig in fatal crash had faulty brakes". Daily News (New York). Retrieved 2008-06-25. [dead link]
  31. ^ "Company Snapshot: FUNG WAH BUS TRANSPORTATION INC: USDOT Number: 954187", United States Department of Transportation.
  32. ^ "US orders Fung Wah bus line to suspend passenger service over safety concerns". Boston Globe (Boston). February 26, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  33. ^ Johnston, Katie (March 1, 2013). "Federal authorities shut down Fung Wah". Boston Globe (Boston). Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Fung Wah Loses Discrimination Lawsuit: MCAD: Bus Co. Discriminates Against Blind Travelers". WCVB. July 12, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  35. ^ Amie Breton (July 12, 2007). "ATTORNEY GENERAL COAKLEY WINS LAWSUIT AGAINST FUNG WAH BUS COMPANY FOR REFUSING TO SELL TICKETS TO BLIND COUPLE". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 

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