Monday, March 4, 2013

We're A Lot Safer with Fung Wah Buses Off the Road

Posted by on Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Fung Wah bus shut down
The Fung Wah bus, which has been ferrying budget-conscious travelers between Chinatown and Boston since 1996, was shut down by the Feds this weekend. The company had denied the government access to its safety records after it was discovered that three-fourths of its fleet had cracks in their frames. Facebook friends mourned the loss of a cheap intercity connection, but truth is bus riders and fellow motorists will all be safer now that Fung Wah is off the road; low prices come from cut corners, and in recent years the company has had a troubled safety record. [photo]

Fung Wah bus shut down
Fung Wah Began in Brooklyn
Pei Lin Liang, who had come to America from China 12 years earlier, founded it in 1997, borrowing "$60,000 from relatives to buy four vans and started shuttling Chinese immigrants between Brooklyn and Chinatown in New York," the Boston Globe once reported. Garment and restaurant workers living in Sunset Park were nervous about riding the subway during the Giuliani years. "Competition was too fierce, though, and Liang decided a year later to obtain a federal passenger-carrier permit and begin van service to Boston," the Globe added, with the idea of bringing immigrants to visit their children attending schools there. [photo]

Fung Wah roll over
But Fung Wah Had a Troublesome Safety Record
In 2005, the company scored a driver-risk rating of 73, the Boston Globe reported, on a scale in which 100 is the worst. In comparison, Greyhound scored a 22. [photo]

Fung Wah bus fire
Once a Fung Wah Bus Caught on Fire
In August 2005, a New York-bound bus was pulled over by police in Connecticut because it was on fire. No one was hurt, but 45 passengers were evacuated, complaining the driver was unhelpful, before the bus was "engulfed in flames." [photo]

Fung Wah bus
The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.. Until They Fall Off
In 2007, a Fung Wah bus was 20 minutes outside of Boston, headed back to New York, when two of its wheels came off. "The bus driver told police he felt something in the rear and then pulled over," WCVB reported. Almost 30 passengers were unharmed and transferred to another bus. [photo]

Fung Wah bus flip roll over
Fung Wah Learns to Roll Over
In September 2006, a Fung Wah bus rolled over on an I-290 off-ramp in Auburn. Fifty seven passengers were onboard, 34 of which were sent to the hospital with mostly minor injuries. The bus was apparently driving too fast, causing it to roll over on its side. [photo]

Fung Wah bus snow accident
These Toll Booths Aren't Phantom
In 2007, a bus crashed on the Massachusetts Turnpike into the toolbooths at Allston. None of the few-dozen passengers were injured. "The bus was like out of a movie—going sideways, you felt like it was flying. He was going too fast," one passenger told WCVB. The driver was cited " for negligent operations and having false log books and faulty brakes." [photo]

Fung Wah bus crash NYC
  • Once in NYC, a runaway dump truck crashed into a Fung Wah bus loading passengers
And Neither Are These
Less than two months later, a Fung Wah bus on the same road drove up on a concrete barrier at the Weston tolls. "The incident began when the driver pulled into an autos-only lane, realized his mistake and backed up on the highway," WCVB reported. "'I go the wrong way, you know,' the driver said. 'I see the sign is "Auto Only."' The bus became stuck when trying to enter another travel lane." The passengers, uninjured, were transferred to a second Fung Wah bus. [photo]

Lucky Star Chinatown bus
No One's Actually Safer
Fung Wah is just the best-known of the discount Chinatown bus companies (because it was first). Its competitors are still on the road, and will likely grow to absorb the lost Fung Wah business. [photo]

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About The Author

Henry Stewart

Henry Stewart

Henry Stewart is the Culture Editor at The L Magazine and Brooklyn Magazine. He has always lived in Brooklyn.

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