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In Defense of Fung Wah Bus Company

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From The Lo-Down‘s inbox today: Reason magazine has published an interesting read on the demise of Chinatown bus company Fung Wah, which was shut down by federal regulators earlier this year.

A Fung Wah bus arrives at Bowery near Canal in February.
A Fung Wah bus arrives at Bowery near Canal in February.

In a lengthy feature story titled “Why the Government was Wrong to Shut Down Fung Wah” and accompanying 9-minute video for Reason magazine, producer Jim Epstein takes an in-depth look at the phenomenon of discount inter-city buses based in Chinatown and what he labels “regulatory incompetence” that shut down Fung Wah and others this spring.

An excerpt:

The government initiative also fits the classic pattern in which regulation destroys politically weak businesses to the benefit of the politically stronglike Greyhound, Coach USA and Peter Pan, which have seen their market share grow. Most of Fung Wah’s employees and its owner were Chinese immigrants lacking the language skills and legal muscle required to navigate all the red tape. And Fung Wah is only the best-known victim of this onslaught. On May 31, 2012, the Federal Department of Transportation shutdown 26 bus companies in a single day, and since then it has forced an additional 15 closures. Many of those companies were owned by Chinese immigrants.

The story is here. The video is here.





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  1. How about the risk to all those who rode unsafe busses? Or those who can’t comprehend the basic task of ensuring the safety for all passengers?

  2. The point of the article was to prove that Fung Wah got shut down unfairly when it carried the same and insignificant amount of accidents and/or violations as the bigger bus companies that has more political clout. Early in the article, it stated Fung Wah had no accidents during the 3 years prior to the shut down.

  3. “Reason” (cough) magazine may have a point, but Reason is essentially a theological publication, preferring to mold facts to their beliefs than their beliefs to facts. In this case it’s an American cult that started in the mid-20th century called “libertarianism.” Its membership is restricted to privileged white males (people outside the restrictions may think they’re members, but they’re not) and generally viewed with confusion and disbelief from outside the US.

    So there’s a chance, albeit a small one, that the article may be valuable. Maybe.

    But note that any website or magazine that includes in its title words like “reason,” “freedom,” or “liberty” should be taken with a huge grain of salt. I think a small mountain, actually. In fact, I recommend avoiding them, cuz you’ll spend 10 times as long trying to verify the information–usually in vain–as you spent reading the article itself. It’s simply not worth the effort.

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