Memories of Fung Wah

Share This

I think Fung Wah jumped the shark when they moved into South Station.

For the last decade, Fung Wah Bus shuttled budget travelers, students and general characters between Boston and New York City. Now, the service is suspended. Boston.com reported this afternoon the US Department of Transportation ordered the bus line to “immediately cease passenger service.” We can’t say we didn’t see this coming.

I remember buying my first ticket to New York off a folding card table in a bakery on Beach Street in Chinatown. I was returning to Buffalo for Thanksgiving 2003. My plan: I would take this $10 bus to Manhattan, then ride the NYC Subway and AirTrain to JFK Airport. Despite the wayward journey, it was more economical than taking a two-leg flight out of Logan to BUF.

“Where do I get on?” I asked.

“It’s around the corner. It… will be around the corner,” said the ticket agent. Or was she a baker?

The bus was not around the corner, but there was a clump of people, laden with backpacks and duffels, on the sidewalk up Harrison Avenue. There was no bus in sight. We waited five, ten, then twenty minutes past the noontime departure. At 12:24 (I recall checking the time on my flip phone), a large white bus, with the same livery paint as today yesterday, trundled around the corner. I want to remember that the tires jumped the curb, but that’s just my imagination. I boarded.

Fast forward…

I rushed to South Station after work on November 4, 2008 to be with my girlfriend on Election Night in New York. Knowing I’d be in transit during a crucial time, I bought an analog radio for $2.99 at Urban Renewals in Allston. I listened to election returns on WBUR, then WNPR, then finally WCBS while we crawled south and the bus alternated between I-95 and US 1.

Have you watched a playoff game in an airplane that has passenger televisions? The atmosphere was similar. I could hear hushed exclamations and intakes of breath throughout the ride. We stopped at Roy Rogers off I-84’s Exit 63. The look in every passenger’s eyes was electric. (Or maybe I’m projecting).

We crossed the Williamsburg Bridge when the New York announcer called the election for Barack Obama.

This was the last time I took Fung Wah (props to friend-of-We-Love-Beantown @HeyRatty for initiating that tag). I’m willing to pay $5 more and cede spontaneity in exchange for Bolt Bus’s wifi, power outlets, leather seats and safety. Plus, let’s not forget we still have Lucky Star leaving every hour on the hour.

Set aside the memories, and realize the service had persistent issues. Fung Wah received disciplinary action from US DOT in the past. The federal agency assessed a $31,110 fine in October 2006 for an incident involving an overturned bus outside of Boston. This followed a $12,950 fine levied in May 2006 for other traffic and safety violations.

Boston.com reported last night Fung Wah pulled 21 of its 28 buses off the road following the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities finding structural defects. I haven’t found anything of similar severity for Bolt Bus, Megabus, or the old standard Greyhound.

Bostinno has collected a good compendium of tweets memorializing standout bus trips. Our personal favorite?

#thelasttimeItookFungWah my parents got a pretty serious voicemail letting me know I loved them
@rharnedy
Ryan Harnedy