05 January 2007

The Wheels on the Bus

This story is reminiscent of the time a hubcab spontaneously popped off of James' K-car and rolled down High Street in Charlestown. But just as that incident did not spell the end for the K-car, this latest incident will not mean the end of the notorious Fung Wah bus line -- where a bus ticket to NYC costs only $15. Last summer, one of the buses ended up on its side on the Mass Pike just before the Auburn exit. And this week, the wheels almost fell off a Boston-bound bus near Framingham. What do you expect? You get what you pay for and that is part of the Fung Wah's grimy charm.

The bus makes the 215-mile trip to NYC for the cost of a five-mile cab ride in Boston. With such low fares, the Fung Wah can barely afford the gas let alone regular maintenance and repair. The experience has been called travel noir and/or extreme bussing: Bring your sense of adventure -- and a crash helmet -- and hope for the best.

I rode the Fung Wah bus only once back when it was $20 round trip. It was just as expected. Smelly and uncomfortable but not unbearable. On board, a true subculture of society; an eclectic mix of characters, many of whom were traveling with multiple plastic bags. Chinese music -- complete with gong percussion -- blared from the bus' staticky speakers. The belligerent busdriver chainsmoked the entire way but screamed -- in Chinese -- at anyone on board who dared to light up. Somewhere in Connecticut, we stopped at some random Chinese buffet where people could stretch their legs, take a bathroom break or get some take-out. We got dropped off in front of an enormous pile of garbage on a sidestreet in Chinatown in New York. I ended up flying home a few days later. My hands smelled like Chinese food for three days -- even after several showers.


sb said...

When I lived in the Q, they kept these buses behind the International Buffet within the Kam Man Plaza.

How long before the FHA shuts these guys down?

Alex said...

Toilet on wheels! I think I was let off in front of that same pile of garbage. Whats up with that?

lpd said...

Doesn't "Fung Wah" translate to "Flaming Poo on Wheels"?

KJ said...

If the name were based on the travel experience, it most certainly would be. I read that it means either "Chinese Wind" or "Wild Chicken." Either would be appropriate but not as accurate as Flaming Poo. Apparently, the owner said the official name of the bus line is "Fenghua Jieyun Gongsi" which means "Elegant Rapid Transit Company" -- Quite possibly the most misleading name of all time.