By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, March 04, 2013
A bus company’s refusal to open its safety records for investigation has resulted in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shutting it down and using a new administrative power to do so.
Fung Wah stopped cooperating with FMCSA investigators Friday, March 1, and blocked the agency from looking further into its safety records, FMCSA said in a news release. The company’s actions Friday prompted FMCSA to use recently granted powers and revoke Fung Wah’s operating authority, according to an FMCSA news release.
The action marks the first time FMCSA has yanked a carrier’s operating authority using powers granted in Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) – a measure President Obama signed into law in July 2012.
“Bus companies that jeopardize public safety and refuse to cooperate with our investigators have no place on the road, and now, thanks to our additional authority, we can take them off,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, according to the news release. “Safety is our highest priority, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that unsafe bus companies are not on our roads.”
MAP-21 includes provisions that allow FMCSA to “revoke the operating authority registration of a motor carrier that fails to comply with an administrative subpoena or a letter demanding release of company safety records,” FMCSA said in the release.
The company had a history of problems complying with federal safety rules.
In 2006, FMCSA fined the company $31,110 after one of its buses overturned on a highway ramp in Massachusetts. The wreck resulted in 48 passengers being injured, including some with serious injuries. Fung Wah was fined for its drivers exceeding the speed limit and drivers not being able to speak English. The company paid $12,900 in fines in May 2006 for violating safety and traffic regulations.
“We will not hesitate to immediately shut down a bus or truck company that ignores safety regulations and puts innocent lives at risk,” FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said, according to the news release. “We will employ every tool we have to take unsafe commercial drivers, vehicles and entire companies off the road anywhere in the country at any time.”
Fung Wah’s website says it is the “largest Chinatown” bus service provider between the two East Coast cities (of New York City and Boston).
According to its website, Fung Wah said it was suspending all bus service in compliance with a request by FMCSA for inspections and repair services. Fung Wah also claimed it would resume bus service soon after an inspection and repair service were completed by inspectors.
That message was posted in late February and had not changed as of Monday afternoon.
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