Five months after Lucky Star was shut down by the federal government for safety violations, the Boston bus company has been granted approval to operate again.
The company could resume trips between South Station and New York’s Chinatown within the next few weeks, starting with eight trips per weekday and 16 on weekends. The company plans increase its trips to 15 to 17 each weekday, and up to 24 on weekends, within two months of starting operations.
Ticket prices will rise to the $25 to $30 range, from the $20 to $25 Lucky Star was charging when it was shut down, to help cover operating costs.
Lucky Star lost its license in June for not properly maintaining its buses and failing to monitor drivers’ hours and drug and alcohol tests. Since then, the company has spent almost $1 million upgrading operations. A third of the 22-bus fleet is new, and each vehicle is equipped with a digital system that allows drivers to immediately transmit their regular equipment examination reports.
The carrier has also installed devices that limit the speed of each bus to 65 miles per hour. Each driver has undergone training in federal regulations, vehicle inspections, and other safety measures, and managers have been instructed in proper record-keeping. Four drivers who failed an English-language test were fired.
Owners Edward Leung and his wife, Maria Wong, who also own four Asian restaurants in the area, said customer safety remains their first priority. They hired a safety consultant to oversee the reapplication process and said they have been working hard to meet government standards. Now that they have been reauthorized to operate, they must hire new drivers, as most of their previous employees found other jobs when the company was shut down.
“It’s been a very difficult five months,” Wong said. “To keep our company alive, it’s not easy without any revenue coming in.” The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Department of Transportation agency that regulates interstate bus travel, is conducting a nationwide crackdown on high-risk companies and has shut down 51 carriers, at least temporarily, since the beginning of the year.
One of those is Fung Wah, the Boston to New York carrier that was shut down in March and has also been working to regain its operating authority.Katie Johnston can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.