Confusion Reigns After Chinatown Bus Companies’ Shutdown

Stranded customers try to figure out how to get home after three Chinatown bus companies were shut down. (Photo by Dai-Chen Liu/World Journal)

Last week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shut down three bus companies based in Chinatown, leaving many customers confused. World Journal reports that the companies now have 10 days to appeal the decision, although the owners admitted that they do not know how to handle the situation properly. The article is translated from Chinese below. 

Buses that travel long distances have long been an important economic driving force in Chinatown. Although the neighborhood’s bus companies have attracted many non-Chinese customers with their discounted prices, their operations have been very difficult to maintain.

Last Wednesday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration inspected several Chinese bus companies. Following its inspection, the agency reportedly decided to close three companies [that run bus networks]:  New Century Travel, Apex Bus and I-95 Coach. As such, buses that are contracted under these three companies will not be allowed to operate.  So far, the FCSA has only confirmed the shutdown of New Century Travel, while the other two have yet to be confirmed. [The agency has since confirmed the names of the three companies.]

One bus company owner said that several FMCSA agents came to investigate the bus companies around 11 a.m.  Although the companies had previously received a notice regarding the situation, they said they were shocked to learn that the investigation led to their closing. The FMCSA also shut down a popular bus stop that served their buses and those contracted by similar companies. The three companies are supposedly not permitted to rent their buses to serve other companies or use other buses as well.New Century Travel, Apex Bus and I-95 Coach all received an Imminent Hazard Operations Out-of-Service Order and do not know when they can resume operations.  Mr. Chen, the owner of Apex Bus, said that the inspecting agents did not provide an explanation and simply dropped off a stack of documents that detailed the violations. The companies now have 10 days to appeal if they are not satisfied with the decision.“We have been calling customers to inform them about the shutdown, but we cannot get a hold of many of them,” Chen said.  “We don’t know what to do.  Many passengers and their families might be visiting from out of state.  They might have to leave by the 30th and [not] have spare money to stay in a motel.  If they can’t get on the buses, who will be responsible for them?” An employee at New Century Travel said he felt helpless.

“We don’t know anything,” he said. “We just know that they (the FMCSA) took advantage of us.”

There were rumors that after the shutdown, several African-American passengers were involved in an altercation with the drivers. One of the Chinese drivers was reportedly injured and had a bloody eye.

Many customers who had paid for their tickets said they were confused by the situation. Mr. Ha, a cell phone retailer from Philadelphia, said that he had come to New York to purchase cell phone parts.  He said he did not know when he would be able to return to Philadelphia.

“In the past, I would usually drive to New York to get more parts,” Ha said. “This time, I decided to ride a bus, and now I have to deal with the shutdown. I might get back home today. I might have to take the Greyhound from Midtown as a last resort.”

Ms. Li, another customer, was also confused about how she would get home.“I really don’t know what to do,” she said. “I have to wait with everyone else.  It doesn’t matter if we don’t get a refund.  The most important thing for me is to get home.”

Edited by Justin Chan

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