Lucky Star Bus Service Temporarily Shut Down By Federal Officials

The company said the federal Department of Transportation told them to cease operations between Boston and New York City.

Finding affordable travel options between New York City and Boston is getting slim.

According to representatives from Lucky Star, a discount-bus service that operates between Boston’s South Station and New York City, the company has been told by the US Department of Transportation to stop its fleet from making trips. “Per the order of USDOT, Lucky Star Bus has [temporarily] ceased operations. All affected e-ticket customers will be receiving a refund automatically. Thanks!”

A sign was also posted at the bus terminal at South Station on Wednesday night. Officials from USDOT said the buses posed an “imminent hazard to public safety.” According to federal investigators, Lucky Star’s fleet of 21 motor coaches did not meet minimum safety standards, and the company failed to “systematically and properly inspect, repair or maintain the vehicles.” Investigators also found that the owners of Lucky Star failed to monitor and ensure that its drivers complied with controlled substances and alcohol use and testing regulations.

“There is no higher priority than safety,” said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. “Bus and truck companies must comply with federal safety regulations, which protect every traveler on our highways and roads. Companies that disregard the safety rules will not be allowed to operate.”

Records provided by the the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration showed that Lucky Star dispatched a motor coach that had an approximate four-foot-by-two-foot hole in the bottom and significant frame damage. Inspections on May 10 and May 21 resulted in four out of six motor coaches owned by Lucky Star being placed out of service and a total of 69 vehicle defects discovered, the report said.

Federal investigators also said that Lucky Star’s motor coaches broke down on 80 separate occasions between New York City and Boston from May 5, 2012 through May 22, 2013. To read the full report, go here.

A notice of default for failure of the company to comply with the regulatory standards required by a license agreement between the bus carrier and the Newmark Knight & Frank Global Management Service, the managing agent for the MBTA at the South Station bus terminal, was also sent to the Lucky Star Transportation Corporation, dated June 6. In the letter, signed by South Station bus terminal manager Stephen Squibb, Lucky Star was told to “cease all passenger bus operations” until further notice.

Lucky Star is the second bus service running out of South Station that’s been ordered to stop its operations this year. The crackdown on the company was part of the FMCSA’s “Operation Quick Strike,” an investigation of high-risk passenger carriers that began last April. In March, the DOT’s FMCSA revoked the license of Fung Wah for failing to cooperate as officials investigated their safety records recorded over the years. The company was shut down under the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act,” making it the first time that the department used such a tactic to take away a company’s operating license.

The act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2012, allows officials to hold motor carrier and drivers to the highest safety standards to continue operations and easily remove the highest risk drivers, vehicles, and bus carriers from the roads to prevent them from making trips with passengers on board.

The state’s Department of Public Utilities had originally told the company to remove all buses manufactured before 2005 from the road, citing structural and safety issues. But when federal officials ordered a more thorough investigation, all buses from the company’s fleet were taken out of commission.