NEW BEDFORD — After the SouthCoast legislative delegation expressed concerns over the permanent closure of the only direct New Bedford - Boston bus route, state transportation officials say they're working on a stopgap solution.

In a March 23 letter to lawmakers from New Bedford, Taunton and Fairhaven, MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator Meredith Slesinger wrote that agency officials "are actively engaging with DATTCO and internal stakeholders" to address the issue.

Private bus company DATTCO had announced the closure of the route from Fairhaven to Boston via New Bedford, UMass Dartmouth, and Taunton in a statement on March 17.

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It was the only mass transit option for those in the Greater New Bedford area going to Boston without diverting through Providence or Cape Cod.

Meanwhile the highly anticipated SouthCoast Rail service to Boston is not expected to start operations until late 2023, leaving commuters without any other option for the rest of the year.

Slesinger — writing on behalf of Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca, according to the letter — noted that the agency is working with the company "to address this potential gap in transportation service."

Although MassDOT has a voluntary agreement with DATTCO to operate some state-owned buses, Slesinger states, as it is a private operator, "MassDOT has limited authority to compel participation or reactivate service."

DATTCO told the agency that their monthly average ridership has reached as low as 30-40 people per day, resulting in what Slesinger called a "significant deficit."


But, she noted, MassDot will "continue to work with DATTCO to find a solution."

Read the letter from MassDOT

State Senator Mark Montigny had written the transportation agency on March 21 about the issue, stating that the company "blindsided customers" and asking MassDOT to "take immediate action" to give residents affordable mass transit to and from Boston.

"For years, my constituents have relied on bus service to Boston in the absence of commuter rail," he wrote.

"Too often, our region has been neglected at the expense of hardworking taxpayers," he added.

"This inequity cannot be allowed to persist, and we must work together to find a solution for these riders."

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell had also reached out to the state transportation secretary to "rectify the situation," he noted in a statement earlier this week.

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