Business

Fung Wah bus line may shut down for good

A Fung Wah driver passed his paperwork to state officials during an inspection at South Station in 2005.
George Rizer/globe staff/file
A Fung Wah driver passed his paperwork to state officials during an inspection at South Station in 2005.

Off the road for more than two years, the discount bus line Fung Wah may shut down for good, its consultant said Monday.

Barry Lewis, whose firm was helping to operate Fung Wah, said the bus service was unable to reclaim a pickup and drop-off location in the Boston area after losing its berth at South Station following regulatory action in March 2013.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had shut down the bus line for serious maintenance problems but in November 2014 granted Fung Wah limited permission to resume operations between Boston and New York. It planned to buy new buses, unveil a new website, improve its maintenance, and raise driving standards.

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Lewis confirmed a report in a Chinese-language newspaper, the World Journal, in which Pei Lin Liang, president of Fung Wah Bus Transportation Inc., said the lack of a Boston site probably means the end of his company’s operations.

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“If I can’t get the Boston stop back, then I’ll have to close down for good,” he told the publication, according to a translation of the article posted on Voices of NY, a community website.

Neither Fung Wah nor a lawyer for the bus service were available for comment.

Lewis said Fung Wah was prepared to run buses from Alewife in Cambridge or the Back Bay. But he complained that Massachusetts regulators were unwilling to allow it to resume operations. “They might as well have just put a target on Fung Wah Bus Transportation’s back,” he said.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities was unavailable for comment late Monday.

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After getting clearance from federal regulators late last year, Fung Wah began laying the groundwork for a resumption of service with local authorities in Boston and New York. It went so far as to build out its New York ticket office. Lewis said the company spent around $50,000 per month getting ready.

Fung Wah had recently received approval from local authorities in New York for stops in Lower Manhattan, but Liang told the World Journal he had no near-term prospect of finding a stop in Boston.

Prior to its reinstatement, Fung Wah complained in a letter posted on its website that regulators were treating the company unfairly with drawn-out evaluations that cost the company more than $3 million — amounting to a “death sentence,” the company’s president wrote.

In its agreement with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the company was to be “subjected to extra oversight and permitted limited operations to prove they can safely transport passengers,” the regulator said at the time.

The agreement required Fung Wah to hire compliance managers and limit itself to 12 trips each way between Boston and New York for the first 30 days of operations and 18 trips each way for the next 30 days. According to the company’s website, it ran 24 daily trips to Boston and 27 trips to New York before it was shut down. That came as part of a nationwide crackdown by the federal agency, which pulled 110 companies off the road for safety violations in 2013.

A worker at the Fung Wah counter at South Station sold tickets on Feb. 26, 2013.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
A worker at the Fung Wah counter at South Station sold tickets on Feb. 26, 2013.

Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.