The owner of Fung Wah Bus Company, which lost its federal license in 2013 because of safety violations, has decided to close his business after more than a decade of providing discount bus service between New York’s Chinatown and Boston.
Peilin Liang, who started Fung Wah in 1997, told NBC News in a telephone interview Thursday that without his company’s two previous gates at Boston’s South Station, which the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority gave away to Megabus and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, his company cannot financially stay afloat.
“If there are no buses [running], the company cannot operate normally, so [people] won’t invest,” Liang said in Mandarin. “If there’s no investment, then the company has no money, and without money we have to close our doors.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) took Fung Wah’s fleet off the road in March 2013, after officials in Massachusetts discovered cracks in the frames of some of Fung Wah's buses. That decision came amid dozens of maintenance violations and a number of traffic accidents involving Fung Wah buses, including one in 2008 that killed one person and injured six others in Manhattan's Chinatown.
Fung Wah was given permission late last year to resume operations and in April received approval from a local community board in New York City to re-establish a bus stop in Manhattan’s Chinatown. But after being sidelined for 27 months and without its original Boston stop, Fung Wah has struggled to restart its business, Liang said.
Liang said Fung Wah has left its storefront location on Canal Street, which served as the bus company’s New York office, but that it had not yet been rented out. He also said he has sold off 80 percent of his buses. A former passenger van driver himself, Liang said he might try returning to that career.
“I definitely will have to go out and do some part-time work,” he said.
Chris Fuchs is a freelance journalist based in New York. His articles have appeared in Foreign Policy and the Taipei Times and in Chinese on ETToday.net, a popular Taiwanese news website.