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Fung Wah gets federal approval to return to the road

Passengers line up in Chinatown in New York City to board a Fung Wah bus to Boston.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File

Fung Wah, the cut-rate bus company that provided service between Boston and New York and had its federal license revoked in March 2013 for safety violations, has been granted permission to resume operations.

In a statement, the company said it had reached an agreement with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates interstate bus travel, in November. Barry Lewis, a consultant to Fung Wah who is handling many of its new operations, said the company would need “at least two weeks” to resume operations.

“We are in the process of working with federal, state and local authorities to demonstrate that a new page has been turned,” said Pei Lin Liang, the president of Fung Wah Bus Transportation, Inc., in a statement. “We understand that the bar is high for our company and we are excited to have the opportunity to demonstrate that we can operate in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”

The shutdown of Fung Wah was part of a nationwide crackdown by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which pulled 110 companies off the road for safety violations last year, including fellow Boston-to-New York Chinatown carrier Lucky Star. Lucky Star was reinstated last fall after spending almost $1 million to upgrade its operations. Boston-based Crystal Transport also lost its license earlier this year and has since regained local operating authority but is still not allowed to run across state lines.


Prior to the federal sweep last year, oversight of the rapidly expanding bus industry had lagged for years. A recent Globe analysis found that one in four of more than 3,700 commercial motorcoach and passenger van companies regulated by the federal government had never received a full safety evaluation. More than 200 companies with at least one alert for a serious safety violation had not undergone a safety review for at least two years, if ever.


New rules now require safety reviews every two or three years, among other tightened regulations.

Earlier this year, Fung Wah posted a letter to its website, saying regulators were treating the company unfairly. Its drawn-out evaluation process had cost the company more than $3 million, wrote Liang, the company’s president, and amounted to a practical “death sentence.”

On Tuesday, however, the letter disappeared from Fung Wah’s website, and the company changed its tune.

“We are pleased with the progress we have made over the last year,” said Lewis, the chief executive of United States Transportation Funding, Inc. Lewis said his company would be handling operations for Fung Wah, including hiring new drivers, bringing in a third party to conduct comprehensive bus inspections, unveiling a new e-ticketing system for its website, and handling marketing efforts. Lewis declined to comment about whether Fung Wah was considering changing its name.

As part of its agreement with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the company “will be subjected to extra oversight and permitted limited operations to prove they can safely transport passengers and protect the motoring public,” the regulator said in a statement.

A spokesman for the agency said Fung Wah was the first passenger carrier to enter into such an agreement, which requires it to hire compliance managers and limit itself to 12 trips each way between Boston and New York for the first 30 days of its operation and 18 trips each way for the next 30 days. According to a schedule posted on the company’s website, it ran 24 daily trips to Boston and 27 trips to New York before it was shut down.

Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam. Katie Johnston of the Globe staff contributed to this report.