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Serious Safety Issues Plague Bargain Carrier Tour Bus Out Of Chinatown

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There were calls to the federal government Monday night to shut down a bargain bus service especially popular with college students.

CBS 2's Lou Young checked in with passengers boarding the Fung Wah bus in Chinatown, a service that some inspectors are calling "an imminent hazard" to its customers.

Passengers took their $15 seats on the Boston-bound Fung Wah bus on Monday night as they usually do even as the company continued to scramble to overcome a rash of safety violations at the other end of the line.

Inspectors in Boston have found all sorts of problems with the bargain carrier's fleet, including structural cracks that have prompted a request to federal regulators to declare the carrier an imminent hazard for passengers.

"We're talking about a major safety concern. We're not talking about trivial matters here. We're talking about structural deficiencies in these buses that could cause a serious accident," said Ann Berwick of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

The company pulled 21 of its 28 buses out of service on Saturday. Those riding the Fung Wah on Monday night likely did not see the company's logo on the side. The bus CBS 2's Young saw was a hired charter out of Massachusetts. Some riders seemed so enthralled by the bargain they were willing to overlook a lot.

"Yes. We've always known," rider Louisa Mardrossian said when asked about the company's reported safety issues. "I'm not that worried."

A driver for the charter company said he's driven Fung Wah's equipment before and sees no pattern of problems.

"I'm sure they'll fix whatever the issues may be, you know?" Jason Hardy said.

The state inspectors are not so certain. Fung Wah has had a history of problems, including a fatal crash four years ago in New York City. Told of the latest news, some of its riders were beginning to have second thoughts.

"It's not safe. I think they should be more strict with that," passenger Renan Silva said.

"Next time we're going to reconsider taking the Fung Wah, probably take something more safer," Juan Mesa added.

Under current regulations Fung Wah has 15 days to correct the safety violations unless federal regulators decide to take action before then.

The last Fung Wah bus on Monday evening left Manhattan a little after 10 p.m.. Barring an announcement from the feds, service resumes Tuesday morning.

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