Some of the issues that took Fung Wah buses off the road this week are problems that, if it were your car at inspection, would keep you from getting a sticker: oil leaks, broken doors, defective airbags, cracks in the frames, broken axles, loose nuts and bolts ... it goes on.
But let's be honest: We've known that Fung Wah was sketchy for a long time. Speaking from both personal experience and some quick Internet searching, the fact is that the cheap ride to New York just wasn't as satisfactory as it could be, for many reasons. Granted, you get what you pay for - $15 is sometimes all it takes to secure passage between Boston and New York out of South Station.
But just check out these negative Yelp reviews -- passengers have complained of trips taking more than seven or eight hours, often riddled with breakdowns, accidents, overheats, and uncomfortable conditions.
The trips that didn't take quite so long were usually far too short, as drivers sometimes were reportedly driving erratically at speeds close to 90 or 100 miles per hour (which, I don't care who you ask, is difficult enough to do in a car, much less in a very large bus).
The Globe confirms they don't exactly have the best driving record:
Last month, one of its buses hit two pedestrians in Manhattan, according to news reports. In 2007, a Fung Wah bus crashed into a guardrail at the Allston-Brighton tolls, and a driver trying to change lanes wedged a bus atop a concrete barrier at the Weston toll booths. In 2006, a Boston-bound coach rolled over while rounding an interstate ramp, slightly injuring 34 passengers, and in 2005, one of its buses caught fire on a highway in Connecticut... Drivers have racked up a dozen speeding violations in the past two years and been cited six times for failure to speak English or operating without a commercial driverís license, according to federal regulators.
So, now that Fung Wah's not really an option for, presumably, some time - how is one supposed to travel between Boston and New York relatively inexpensively?
There are still several discount bus lines that run to and from New York, including Megabus, Bolt Bus, Lucky Star, and World Wide Bus. Peter Pan and Greyhound are also bus options if you don't mind spending a few extra bucks. Of course, there's the Northeast Regional -- and the Acela, but that tends to run pretty pricey. If you can get to New Haven, Waterbury, or Danbury in Connecticut (or Dutchess County in New York), Metro North might be the way to go.
Seth Kugel of the New York Times wrote up this guide on how to travel to and from New York somewhat cheaply a couple years back. It's a bit outdated but still mostly accurate.
Were you a regular traveler of the Fung Wah bus? If so, what do you plan to do now? Do you think this was a long time coming or do you think the state is overreacting?
Planning on coming into the city tonight on 93? Expect to sit a bit.
The DOT is going to be shutting down 93 southbound between Mystic Avenue in Somerville and South Station from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Maintenance and cleaning crews are going to be cleaning and performing maintenance on areas they might not normally be able to easily access, such as the Leverett Connector, Zakim Bridge, and the Lower Deck. Crews have been performing similar work on the northbound side over the past couple of months from time to time.
You'll be taken off the highway at Mystic Avenue and detoured via various side streets into the city. If you've got to continue south of town on 93, you'll be allowed back into the O'Neill Tunnel near South Station. If you were planning on taking the Mass Pike, the ramp near Kneeland Street is where you'll be accessing the westbound side.
Mass Pike drivers -- you won't be without your share of closures this week.
All westbound traffic will be shut down through the Ted Williams Tunnel during the overnight hours on Wednesday into Thursday. Lanes will be shut down and a detour put in place just after 11 p.m. but expect the full closure to be in effect from midnight to 5 a.m.
If you're planning on coming into the city from East Boston, you'll be diverted off into the Sumner Tunnel. If you have to continue on the Pike westbound, take the ramp to Storrow Drive and get off at Leverett Circle. Go into the O'Neill Tunnel southbound and take Exit 20 to continue on the Pike westbound.
If you're a trucker, the detour's going to be a little different. According to the DOT, you'll be sent onto 1A northbound to Route 16 westbound. From there, you'll be sent to the Tobin Bridge southbound to get onto 93 southbound. After that, you can access the Pike westbound in the O'Neill Tunnel. Phew.
This isn't the first time as of late we've seen the Ted Williams shut down - essentially, crews will be using this time in the tunnel to continue minor repairs and extensive cleaning that they've been working on for the past few months.
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