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Fung Wah files appeal to continue operating buses

Fung Wah Bus Transportation Inc. is waiting to hear back from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration about an appeal filed by Feb. 3 after three-quarters of the buses in the fleet failed to meet several safety standards.

The Jan. 24 rejection letter came as a result of the carrier’s “refusal to comply” with the FMCSA regulations, the letter stated.

Marissa Padilla, a spokesperson for the FMCSA, said the company, which provides transportation between New York Chinatown and Boston Chinatown, submitted their request for authority to operate by mail by the July 31 deadline, in accordance with a consent agreement between the carrier and the agency made on July 29.

FMCSA rejected Fung Wah’s request to resume operating their buses, since being taken off the road in March. The company subsequently submitted three online applications on Oct.11, Nov. 5 and Dec. 5, despite the fact that the July 31application was still pending, Padilla said.

The FMCSA’s application rejection letter states the illegitimate online applications as an apparent attempt to avoid FMCSA’s passenger carrier vetting process.

“FMCSA thoroughly reviewed Fung Wah’s application and determined that the company is not willing or able to comply with the safety standards we require to protect passengers, drivers and the motoring public,” Padilla said.

Fung Wah’s buses were removed from the roads when the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities found structural and maintenance deficiencies in the company’s 21 buses, the letter said. The FMCSA issued an Imminent Hazard Out-of-Service Order. The carrier’s operating authority was revoked March 1, after the company refused to turn over documentation to safety inspectors.

The FMCSA safety investigators found evidence of dangerous conditions on the buses. Their failure to inspect and maintain vehicles, falsified inspection records and lack of compliance with hours-of-service regulations were cited in the FMCSA’s rejection, Padilla said.

“Individually and cumulatively, these violations and conditions of operations substantially increase the likelihood of serious injury or death to Fung Wah drivers, passengers and the traveling public,” she said.

Fung Wah representatives submitted a written appeal to the rejection letter. Padilla said there is no timeline for review of the appeal, but it will be heard by the FMCSA.

Alexander Linzer, an associate of the New York-based firm Freeman Lewis LLC, is representing Fung Wah in their ongoing battle with the FMCSA.

“We’re ready, willing, and able to get back on the road,” Linzer said.

Several residents said Fung Wah should be working to improve the flaws in their buses before appealing to the FMCSA to continue operations.

Andrew Richards, 23, of Fenway, said he is losing faith in the efficiency of the transportation companies he has taken between Boston and New York.

“Service is getting worse and worse and I feel like I wouldn’t take Fung Wah because I don’t know it,” he said. “Now, knowing all that stuff [about their company], I obviously wouldn’t take it again. I know other companies are kind of the same way. They’re not raising the bar against each other. They are kind of cutting corners, it seems like.”

Hayden Jhon, 28, of Fenway, said price is more of a factor than the company’s history of safety violations in deciding whether or not to patronize Fung Wah.

“I would have to compare and see how much they’re charging,” he said. “If it’s cheap, and I look at the bus, and it looks okay, then I take a ride. It’s a risk I’ll take. I’d keep it in mind, be aware of [their history], but depending on the price, I’d do a lot of risky things.”

Quanesha Boykins, 22, of Fenway, said she has taken Fung Wah’s buses and was not disappointed with their service, despite having been warned about the company’s safety issues.

“I heard rumors before I took it that it was dangerous and the buses tipped over, but when I rode it I felt safe,” she said. “There was nothing wrong with it, but if they’re not changing anything and they have a history of crashes, they should fix that.”

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