WASHINGTON — Late Friday afternoon, frustrated with the lack of cooperation by the Fung Wah motorcoach company to present its 28 buses for inspection, the FMCSA shut down the company using new authorities given the agency under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
FMCSA Feb. 26 had ordered Fung Wah Bus Transportation to immediately provide its entire fleet of 28 motorcoaches for thorough and detailed safety inspections by qualified inspectors.
While the company was not ordered out-of-service, it was not able to operate any of its buses on the nation’s highway until they had been inspected and deemed roadworthy.
The law by President Barack Obama in July 2012, says that the FMCSA may 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.
This is the first case of FMCSA exercising this new provision to revoke a motor carrier’s federal operating authority, the FMCSA said.
“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,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “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.”
An annoyed FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro blasted the carrier.
“We will not hesitate to immediately shut down a bus or truck company that ignores safety regulations and puts innocent lives at risk,” Ferro said. “We will employ every tool we have to take unsafe commercial drivers, vehicles and entire companies off the road anywhere in the county at any time.”
Tuesday’s order came in the wake of the carrier entering into a Consent Agreement with the Massachusetts DPU whereby the carrier voluntarily removed 21 of its motor coaches from for-hire passenger service in order to allow inspection by the manufacturer’s representative.
According to the Consent Agreement, inspections by DPU revealed structural deficiencies and/or frame cracks in certain of the carrier’s pre-2005 model motor coaches.
Furthermore, the agency said Tuesday, Fung Wah Bus Transportation generally did not have in place an effective vehicle maintenance program to prevent the operation of unsafe motor coaches and noted that the carrier neither maintains its older fleet of commercial motor vehicles in a safe and proper operating condition nor in accordance with manufacturer's specifications and Technical Service Bulletins, and does not systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired and maintained, certain older motor vehicles subject to its control.
As a result of its lack of a sound maintenance program, Fung Wah Bus Transportation Inc. has allowed a certain portion of its fleet to deteriorate to the point that their operation significantly increases the likelihood of serious injury or death if not discontinued immediately, the FMCSA said.
“In sum, the noncompliant, unsafe, and dangerous condition of Fung Wah Bus Transportation older bus fleet and Fung Wah Bus Transportation failure to adequately maintain and repair its older fleet of commercial motor vehicles substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death and is an imminently hazardous and potentially deadly risk for its own drivers, passengers, and for the motoring public,” the FMCSA said in the order requiring the carrier to provide its entire fleet for inspection.
FMCSA's safety investigators are continuing their examination of Fung Wah's operations, including examining the safety records of its vehicles, drivers and other company safety performance requirements prescribed by federal regulations, and may consider additional actions against the company if warranted, the agency said.
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