Two bus companies, Fung Wah and Lucky Star, which were shut down in the spring due to safety violations, may be back on the road in the coming months, but the federal government shutdown has left the owners unsure of their companies’ futures.
Fung Wah and Lucky Star, both who ran buses from Boston to New York City, were ordered by the U.S. Department of Transportation to shut down in February. They had their operating licenses revoked in March and June respectively, by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. After several months of replacing buses and drivers, they now meet federal safety standards, but must get official approval before they can carry passengers.
“Safety is our number one priority, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has taken aggressive efforts to strengthen passenger carrier safety and enforcement,” said Marissa Padilla, spokeswoman for the FMCSA. “It’s very serious to shut a company down … [and we] will continue to carry out its safety mission and operations [through the government shutdown].”
A representative from Fung Wah, who requested anonymity because he could not give exact details, said the company was not certain that the FMCSA would continue to monitor its application during the government shutdown.
“We are not open, and because of the government shutdown, our opening is delayed indefinitely,” he said. “We don’t know what is going to happen, or when we will be able to re-open.”
A representative for Lucky Star, who also wished to remain anonymous, said they have put in too much effort to be delayed by political gridlock.
“We’ve worked really hard to try and get back on the road, and we’re trying really hard to comply with all regulations,” he said. “We don’t know yet [when we will open] until everything is running back to normal. Things change, and there’s [still] no one here.”
Mass. Department of Public Utility started inspections of Fung Wah in February. After finding several cracks and other structural deficiencies, they referred the problem to the FMCSA, who revoked its operating license. FMCSA revoked Lucky Star’s license independently after the incident.
Finished with a significant part of the reapplication process, both companies have a “conditional” safety rating, which means they meet most standards, but are not cleared to carry passengers, Padilla said.
If they are cleared to be on the road, they would still be inspected regularly, said DPU spokeswoman Mary-Leah Assad.
“We conduct bus inspections every single day of a variety of bus companies” she said. “[We] will continue to do the same, if and when Fung Wah and Lucky Star are back on the road, to ensure public safety.”
Some residents said they want Fung Wah and Lucky Star back on the road, despite the previous problems the buses have encountered in the past.
Jack Mai, 18, a resident of Boston, said he wants to have the bus companies back on the road because they were cheap and convenient.
“It’s just so much more convenient,” he said. “It’s fifteen dollars. [Other bus companies] are the same price, but the thing is that you have to get tickets like a month in advance, so I think them reopening would be a lot better.”
Ben Rabkin, 21, a resident of Allston, said he would not trust the bus services until they prove themselves.
“Personally, I wouldn’t take one,” he said. “Maybe if they improve their quality in the future, then definitely, if I heard better things.”
Yvone McFarland, 56, a teacher who lives in Beverly, said she is not as thrilled to hear Fung Wah and Lucky Star may come back.
“I’ve had nieces and nephews that have taken the buses and have felt comfortable on the bus even they didn’t know that they were unsafe,” she said. “I’m kind of worried now and I wonder if they are as safe as they should be.”