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I-Team: State Calls Fung Wah Bus Lines An "Imminent Hazard"

BOSTON (CBS) - The I-Team has learned a number of those cheap buses that travel between Boston and New York City are failing safety inspections.

It sounds like a great deal - just $15 gets you a ticket on a Fung Wah bus to Manhattan.

But you might think twice after hearing the startling results of recent inspections.

Fung Wah
Boston Police officers inspect Fung Wah bus.

The I-Team has learned that state inspectors are so upset with what they've been finding on these buses, that they've asked the federal government to suspend or revoke Fung Wah's license to operate.

On one bus, inspectors found multiple oil leaks from different parts of the engine, and nuts and bolts that weren't secure.

There were also faulty lights, a door with a broken latch and the lack of proper registration on the charter bus hired by Fung Wah.

But consider this one of the "good" buses. Fung Wah will have 15 days to report back to the state that those problems have been fixed. It didn't get immediately pulled off the road.

The I-Team learned that's what's been happening to Fung Wah buses brought to a facility in Roxbury for inspection.

During one visit, they were inspecting the buses for hours and five were in such disrepair they had to be towed.

Three of those buses had cracked frames. Inspectors found they had been re-welded and the work wasn't done properly.

Another had defective airbags.

But the I-Team found mechanical problems on Fung Wah buses is nothing new.

During the week of February 13th, inspections revealed three other buses with cracked frames.

Documents obtained by the I-Team show state inspectors are asking that Fung Wah be called an "imminent hazard" before something bad happens.

In another email, a Boston Police sergeant found Fung Wah drivers had driven failed buses off the lot and actually put them right back in service.

Ann Berwick is chair of the Department of Public Utilities, the agency which oversees the buses for the state. She worries not only about the passengers, but also other cars that have to share the road with these buses.

"We're talking about a major public safety concern," said Berwick. "We're not talking about trivial matters here; we're talking about serious structural deficiencies in these buses that could cause a serious accident."

A Fung Wah spokesperson told WBZ-TV he had no information about failed inspections and denied putting faulty buses back on the road.

Every year more than five million bus passengers go thru South Station, many lining up for those cheap fares to New York.

This news, coupled with high profile bus fires and crashes, has some passengers wondering if this is such a good deal.

"It's not safe. I think they should be more strict with that," tourist Renan Silva of New York told WBZ.

"Next time we are going to reconsider, taking the Fung Wah, (and) probably take something more safer," said traveler Juan Mesa of Watertown.

So far Fung Wah has agreed to take 21 of their 28 buses off the road. Some are in New Jersey right now being fixed.

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