SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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February 27, 2013

Fed. officials order Boston-NY discount bus fleet inspected

BOSTON (AP) — Federal regulators yesterday ordered a discount bus service operating between Boston and New York City’s Chinatown to pull its entire fleet off the road for inspections over problems including cracked vehicle frames.

The announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration came after Massachusetts officials found serious problems on eight buses operated by the Fung Wah discount bus service.

The company had already agreed to take 21 buses off the road, but the order removed all 28 from service “for thorough and detailed safety inspections.”

By late yesterday afternoon, three Fung Wah buses had returned to service after passing inspections in Massachusetts, said Mary-Leah Assad, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Utilities, which regulates the company. Additional inspections were ongoing in New York, she said.

Officials said the company had also chartered other buses to continue operations. Attempts to get comment from Fung Wah yesterday were not successful.

At the South Station bus terminal in Boston, the Fung Wah ticket booth had almost no activity late yesterday afternoon, but a few of its customers were unfazed by the company’s problems.

Andrew Wohlsen, an artist from New York, said he’s found the service reliable and wasn’t particularly concerned about the vehicles’ safety.

“I guess because my own experience has been good,” said Wohlsen, 32, although he allowed he “might think twice now.”

Fung Wah has had a variety of problems, including a $31,000 fine in 2006 for safety violations after a rollover accident in Massachusetts injured dozens of passengers. In 2005, flames engulfed a Fung Wah bus moments after the passengers were evacuated in Meriden, Conn.

In safety measurements by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Fung Wah is in the bottom 3 percent nationwide for driver fitness, which evaluates training and experience. Four of their seven driver violations since 2011 came because the drivers didn’t speak English. The company also rated poorly in the unsafe driving category, with nine speeding violations since September 2011, according to the online data.

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