The Lucky Star Bus Line Is Back in Business
Five months after the feds shut the service down for safety violations, the Lucky Star bus line will recommence its trips from South Station, reports The Boston Globe.
The company spent millions of dollars updating its equipment to satisfy the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. That agency required the bus line temporarily shut down, along with the other popular Chinatown carrier, Fung Wah, earlier this year. Lucky Star’s return is probably good news for anyone who felt the loss of two high-volume bussing options to New York City. After all, Fung Wah’s shuttering inspired an outpouring of nostalgia, and even an only sort-of-ironic musical lament in The New Yorker. Unfortunately, to cover some of the costs of updating their equipment, Lucky Star did raise fares—and low fares were pretty much the selling point for the Chinatown lines.
On that point: It was never difficult for people to buy the narrative from the government regulators that Fung Wah and Lucky Star operated with a disregard for safety. Tales of horror stories on the Fung Wah, which had a rash of bad press surrounding several high profile accidents through the years, were popular in the days after it was shut down. But earlier this week, The Daily Beast published a story offering a different take. The shut down, in writer Jim Epstein’s retelling, was a concerted campaign from an overzealous government agency to take advantage of independent carriers and benefit of the large corporations that swooped in to pick up their business. Reports that the government had pulled busses off the road with cracks in their frames seemed to serve the public at the time, but Epstein had a different take:
The government’s mistreatment of both companies has caused financial and emotional harm to their owners, employees, and their families—but it’s also been detrimental to the riding public. The Boston Globe reports that Lucky Star is planning on raising its prices when it reopens, which will help cover some of its costs stemming from the shutdown. The company will likely get away with its price increase because the new regulatory regime has made it harder than ever for new bus companies to get into the business and undercut existing operators.
It’s an interesting, and sharply different perspective from the one we’ve long accepted so it might make for interesting reading this weekend. But regardless of whether Lucky Star deserved a shut down those many months ago, it seems its back in the government’s good graces. Can Fung Wah be far behind?