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Fung Wah decries ‘death sentence’ from US

A worker at the Fung Wah Bus ticket booth at South Station sold passengers tickets for a bus headed to New York.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

A worker at the Fung Wah Bus ticket booth at South Station sold passengers tickets for a bus headed to New York.

The shuttered Fung Wah bus company has posted a letter on its website detailing what it calls “serious wrongdoings” by the federal government that led to the Boston carrier being pulled off the road in March 2013 — and kept off ever since.

Pei Lin Liang, president of Fung Wah Bus Transportation Inc., cited several examples of what he called the government’s “unjust and heavy hand,” including giving the company less than two hours to respond to a subpoena for thousands of documents. The letter said Fung Wah has resolved every safety issue and was never given a “real legal reason” why it is not allowed back on the road. The letter also noted that Liang has a welding license and performed all of the welding repairs on the buses.

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“Do not play games with us,” Liang wrote. “We admit, we must accept some responsibility for our misgivings but nothing that we have done nor didn’t do would ever account to an unqualified death sentence.”

Boston-based Fung Wah, which pioneered cheap fares to New York City, was shut down after federal investigators were denied access to its safety records in mid-February 2013, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates the interstate bus industry. Those files were then subpoenaed, revealing shoddy repairs, falsified maintenance records, and a failure to monitor drivers’ hours and screen them for drugs.

Fung Wah contends the federal agency gave it less than two hours to respond to a subpoena for 22,000 documents. The agency said that the carrier had been notified to share its records two weeks prior, but refused.

In January, the safety agency rejected Fung Wah’s application to get back on the road, providing little explanation beyond stating that the carrier was not “willing or able to comply with the safety standards we require.”

Fung Wah’s operating history was also taken into account, the safety agency said, including crashes, fires, and an accident last year in which two pedestrians were hit by a Fung Wah bus in New York.

Fung Wah appealed the rejection in early March, and has not heard anything from the agency since, said Alexander Linzer, of the New York law firm Freeman Lewis LLC.

“They’re frustrated that they’re not getting any guidance from FMCSA on what steps to take,” he said. “We do not believe that the FMCSA has treated Fung Wah fairly throughout this process.”

In response to the letter, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said in a statement that it is “working harder than ever to prevent deadly bus crashes from occurring by thoroughly investigating and shutting down dangerous bus operations that endanger the public.”

The agency recently started cracking down on unsafe bus companies after years of lax oversight.

Fung Wah’s letter also stated that all of the carrier’s buses — some of them new — passed federal inspections a year ago, and that the company has hired an approved safety agent and changed how it conducts its business.

“In order to help the government save face, we had not disclosed to the public the facts and circumstances of what happened that led to us losing our license to operate,” the letter says. “We have stayed silent, until now.”

Katie Johnston can be reached at katie.johnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.
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