Fung Wah, the discount bus company that for nearly two decades operated between Manhattan’s Chinatown and Boston and lost its federal license in 2013 because of safety violations, may close for good as early as the end of this month after losing its Boston stop.
"We are not a new company," Peilin Liang, owner of Fung Wah Bus Transportation Inc., told NBC News in Mandarin. "As far as we're concerned, it's not fair."
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Director of Communications Joe Pesaturo confirmed to NBC News that the MBTA gave one of Fung Wah’s two gates at Boston’s South Station to Megabus, a discount intercity bus operated by DATTCO, a transportation company. That decision was made "because of need and safety reasons," he said.
"Without a stop, there is no way to do (business)"
A couple of months ago, the MBTA also signed an agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which awarded Fung Wah’s remaining gate to accommodate several other bus carriers, Pesaturo said.
In March 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration took Fung Wah off the road after officials in Massachusetts discovered cracks in the frames of some of Fung Wah’s buses. That order 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.
At the time, Fung Wah’s closure also provided fodder for New Yorker contributor Marc Philippe Eskenazi, who wrote lyrics to and performed “Farewell, Fung Wah,” a parody of Bob Dylan’s "Farewell, Angelina." Eskenazi's song pays homage to the bus company, founded by Liang in 1997, and its cheap tickets, which cost $15 one way.
Late last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted Fung Wah permission to resume operations, and on April 28 the local community board in New York approved Fung Wah's request to re-establish a bus stop in Manhattan's Chinatown. But without its original South Station stop in Boston, it could prove difficult for Liang to restart his route after being sidelined by federal regulators for some 27 months, he said.
Liang said Fung Wah was still considering other locations in Boston that could serve as bus stops. Pesaturo said that as of Tuesday, however, Fung Wah had not filed a request with the MBTA for access to other stops.
Meanwhile, as Liang weighs all his options, his company's expenses, he said, continue to mount.
"Without a stop, there is no way to do (business)," he said.