Federal authorities have revoked the operating authority of Fung Wah, effectively shutting down the discount bus line after the company blocked access to its safety records.
The Boston-based carrier, which pioneered low fares to New York, was forced to stop running out of South Station Tuesday night after state inspections revealed substantial cracks in the frames of many of its vehicles. The federal order prevents Fung Wah from moving to another location and leasing buses.
Fung Wah stopped cooperating with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Friday, federal officials said, and the agency immediately halted its operations. It is the first time the Motor Carrier Safety Administration has exercised this authority, provided by a new law that allows it to revoke the operating authority of bus companies that refuse to release safety records.
“We will not hesitate to immediately shut down a bus or truck company that ignores safety regulations and puts innocent lives at risk,” agency administrator Anne Ferro said. “We will employ every tool we have to take unsafe commercial drivers, vehicles, and entire companies off the road anywhere in the county at any time.”
Fung Wah declined to comment.
The state Department of Public Utilities conducted several inspections of Fung Wah buses in February, finding problems including cracks in the drive axle and engine cradle in eight of the nine buses it inspected. Last week, the state asked Fung Wah to take all its buses built before 2005 off the road — 21 out of its fleet of 28 — and asked federal officials to shut the bus line.
On Tuesday, the Motor Carrier Safety Administration ordered Fung Wah to stop operating its entire fleet until the buses could be inspected and repaired. The bus company continued to operate using charter buses until the managers at South Station Bus Terminal ordered Fung Wah to halt all operations later that day.
If the bus line opens up its safety records, submits to a full compliance review, and presents a corrective action plan, it could seek reinstatement, federal authorities said.
“The department will continue conducting thorough inspections of all bus lines to ensure that public safety is protected, and continue to cooperate with the federal investigation into Fung Wah,” DPU spokeswoman Mary-Leah Assad said.
Fung Wah has a history of crashes and safety violations. In the past two years, it has been cited for 159 maintenance violations, including 23 instances of cracked, loose, or broken frames, according to federal regulators. Its drivers are ranked in the bottom 3 percent of drivers nationwide based on experience and training, and its unsafe driving rating is below the industry standard.
Drivers have racked up a dozen speeding violations in the past two years and been cited six times for failure to speak English or operating without a commercial driver’s license, according to federal regulators.