21 of 27 Fung Wah buses taken off road for safety concerns

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February 25, 2013, 10:15 pm
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(NECN: Alysha Palumbo - Boston) - Fung Wah buses are still rolling in and out of Boston even though a state inspection over the past two weeks forced the company to pull more than three-quarters of its active fleet of 27 buses off the roadway.

“We’re talking about cracks in some buses in the drive axel and in the engine casing," said Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Chair Ann Berwick, "jeopardizing the safety not just of riders but other vehicles on the highway.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities inspected four of the company’s buses on Feb. 7 and yanked three of them out of service for structural issues.

But when State Police allegedly found the company still operating those buses three days later, inspectors widened their nets.

Berwick said, “We inspected nine, took eight off and then reached an agreement with the company to take all 21 of the older – that is the pre-2005 buses – off the road.”

Joe Mokrisky is a bus and truck consultant who has worked with Fung Wah in the past.

He says the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets up very specific maintenance and inspection guidelines that all bus companies should be following.

Mokrisky said, “It can be normal wear and tear but a good vehicle inspection and maintenance program will catch those before it becomes an issue that’s been identified here.”

Fung Wah has previously had serious issues like crashes and fires that have led to investigations.

Berwick said, “They have been intermittently part of what we’d call a targeted enforcement program.”

But the DPU does not have the authority to shut the company down.

Some bus riders here in Boston aren’t concerned by the latest inspections.

Fung Wah passenger Dennis Hans said, "I ride it before and I think it was alright, so I don’t see nothing wrong.”

But others are very concerned by the structural issues.

Fung Wah passenger Beris Bodden said, “Of course, I won’t buy my ticket with them no more.”

James Nardone of Hyannis, Mass., said, “Obviously the maintenance of the vehicles is going to suffer because they handle so much traffic and volume and it’s cheaper.”

When NECN reached out to Fung Wah we failed to reach anyone knowledgeable with the situation.

The Department of Utilities sent a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration detailing the structural problems.

Only the federal government can deem the buses an "imminent threat" and shut down the company.

Tags: Boston, New York, Alysha Palumbo, damage , Chinatown, bus, South Station, service, inspection, structure, Fung Wah
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