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.
The government initiative also fits the classic pattern in which regulation destroys politically weak businesses to the benefit of the politically strong—like 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.