Could the Fung Wah Buses Be Coming Back to Boston?
A shuttered bus company that once offered discount trips between Boston and New York City is trying to work with federal officials so that it can make a comeback.
After being shut down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, back in February, following a report from state regulators that found many of the company’s vehicles had cracked frames, operators of the Fung Wah bus service are working to improve safety standards so they can get back on the road.
When federal officials stepped in earlier this year, they deemed the buses an “imminent hazard” to public safety, and ordered all vehicles off the roads until Fung Wah fixed the problems.
Officials also said the company failed to work with them to right the wrongs, and to inspect, repair and maintain its vehicles. Fung Wah operators also allegedly falsified inspection records, failed to ensure its drivers were qualified and complied with hours-of-service regulations, and failed to meet drug and alcohol testing requirements.
Since then, the company has been regularly filing safety inspection reports in order to try and reestablish its business in Boston.
After taking some corrective action, Fung Wah met the requirements necessary to receive what is called a “conditional safety rating,” FMCSA spokeswoman Marissa Padilla said in a statement, and the authorities will now evaluate the company’s application for operating authority.”However, at this time, they do not have operating authority to transport passengers,” she said.
The FMCSA rules and regulations state that a conditional safety rating—one step up from unsatisfactory— means a motor carrier does not have adequate safety management controls in place to ensure compliance with the safety fitness standard, but they are working on it in conjunction with the proper authorities. “Fung Wah bus will resume [bus] service soon after an inspection and repair service is complete by inspectors,” according to a statement on the company’s website.
But even if Fung Wah gets the OK from federal officials, they still have some roadblocks on a local level.
South Station, where Fung Wah ran buses from, is managed by the MBTA, and officials said Monday that there is limited space for operations at the facility. “If they receive all of the required federal and state permits [and] licenses, and intend to seek operating privileges at South Station once again, the MBTA will consider their request,” said Kelly Smith, a spokesperson for the MBTA. “The managers of the bus terminal have a limited number of gates available for private carriers.”
Smith said gate space is subject to availability and the Fung Wah’s ability to successfully enter into a lease agreement with the management firm at South Station’s bus terminal.
Whether anyone will ride the discount buses to and from New York City is also a challenge the company could face after such an extended absence.