Fung Wah Bus line agrees to abide by new state strictures
Timothy Shevlin Jr., head of the state Department of Telecommunications and Energy, provided reporters with facts on the agreement with the Fung Wah Bus line. (Jim Davis/ Globe Staff)
After meeting with federal and state regulators for nearly three hours , the owner of the discount Fung Wah Bus line agreed yesterday to allow all of his buses to be inspected every 90 days and to immediately stop using drivers who are not able to read and speak English.
State and federal transportation officials said they would step up regularly scheduled and unannounced spot checks of Fung Wah buses at the company's garage in Chinatown and at the South Station bus terminal.
State regulators plan to meet with Fung Wah officials in 30 days to check on progress. Within 10 days, the company must submit several documents that its officials did not bring yesterday, including official safety policies for drivers and a certificate that the firm is carrying valid insurance.
Pei Lin Liang , president and owner of Fung Wah, waived his right to appeal in the consent order. He avoided reporters before and after the meeting. Officials from the state Department of Telecommunications and Energy, which regulates commercial bus lines, declined to comment.
The bus line, which offers $15 one-way trips between Boston and New York, is facing increased scrutiny by state and federal regulators after a coach rolled over last week rounding an Interstate 290 ramp in Auburn, slightly injuring 34 passengers.
State Police have said speed was a factor in the Sept. 5 wreck. In April, officials from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates commercial buses, had warned Fung Wah to slow its drivers down and in May had fined the company $12,950 for speeding, failure to keep driver records, and using a bus that had failed an inspection.
The state has threatened to pull the carrier's license to operate out of South Station if an investigation shows the company failed to adhere to state rules.
The consent order signed yesterday states that Fung Wah officials ``exhibited a willingness to cooperate with . . . the investigation" and did produce some of the requested documents, but needed more time to produce others.
The document also says Fung Wah accepted the consent order ``as a formal notice to immediately cease and desist from operating buses that have not been maintained in a safe and sanitary condition, and from operating buses without properly trained drivers, including drivers who are not sufficiently able to read and speak the English language and to converse with the general public."
State and federal laws require that commercial bus drivers be able to speak English, in case there is an emergency.
After last week's accident, State Police did not allow a Fung Wah driver to take passengers involved in the accident back to Boston because he could not speak English well enough and was carrying what State Police said was a false driver's log.
State and federal officials said they watched Fung Wah more closely after another coach caught fire in August 2005.
Mac Daniel can be reached at email@example.com.