Fung Wah Closure Frustrates Students, Prompts Changes Among Competitors

Since federal and state officials ordered the low-cost Chinatown bus carrier Fung Wah to suspend operations at the end of February, some Harvard students say their trips between Boston to New York have been more difficult to plan.

For Desta S. Lissanu ’13, the end of Fung Wah “made everything more chaotic, and a heacache.”

“After they shut down, prices have gone through the roof,” said Lissanu. “It’s been really frustrating since Fung Wah closed, because demand has stayed really high.”

Lissanu recounted that when she came back from New York three weeks ago, many carriers had sold out tickets three or four days in advance.

“It used to be that you could just show up 15 minutes before a bus left and buy a ticket,” she said.

Fatma K. Akcay ’16 said that while she will ride Lucky Star in the future, in her experience trips with Fung Wah have always been faster.

“Fung Wah drivers drove really fast, to the point that you always got where you needed to be in exactly four hours,” said Akcay.

But many students interviewed for this article said that for them, Fung Wah’s closing has caused few problems.

Alexandra M. Kiley ’15, who traveled to New York over spring break, said that she has not found it any more difficult to book a trip to the city.

Students are not the only ones adapting to a changing bus markiet. Since Fung Wah closed in February, other bus lines have altered their travel offerings.

Lucky Star, a low-cost bus carrier that offers trips from Boston to New York City, increased its minimum fare from 16 to 25 dollars on March 11, according to a Lucky Star call center operator, who declined to comment on whether the price increase was related to Fung Wah’s closure.

According to Peter Pan Bus Lines Executive Vice President Robert Schwarz, the demand for Peter Pan bus rides increased by between 11 and 33 percent per day for the month of March, as compared to last year’s sales data, prompting the company to increase the size of their bus fleet in order to expand passenger capacity.

Schwarz added that the bus line’s fares have not deviated much from previous years’ averages.

In order to capture the part of the market left unserved by Fung Wah’s closure, Yo! Bus began servicing the Boston to New York route two weeks ago, going from South Station to Manhattan’s Chinatown, where Fung Wah use to drop off passengers. Peter Pan and Greyhound bus lines jointly launched Yo! Bus in December,

“After Fung Wah closed down, there was immediate demand for buses going specifically to Chinatown,” said Schwarz.

—Staff writer Antonio Coppola can be reached at acoppola@college.harvard.edu. Follow him on Twitter @AntonioCoppolaC.

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