Mayor Jon Mitchell is urging voters to support a question on November's ballot that would have New Bedford become a Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) community.

Voters must vote to join the MBTA before South Coast Rail can chug into town as planned next year.


Mitchell tells me he was informed by the MBTA just two months ago that the referendum would be required.

"Everybody has to say yes," Mitchell said. "Before they brought it up, I wasn't aware of it."

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"Massachusetts General Law says in order to receive MBTA service, a city or town must agree to become a so-called MBTA community," he said.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell Reveals The Cost Of Joining MBTA
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"The implication is that once you're an MBTA community the state, the MBTA can assess a fee for their service," he said.

According to Mitchell, there is a formula for determining how much of a fee a city and town is assessed.

Mitchell said the MBTA bases the fee on "how many people in a city or town will actually use the rail service." He said a community's population is also taken into consideration in determining the amount of the fee.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell Reveals The Cost Of Joining MBTA
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

Mitchell said in establishing a fee for becoming an MBTA communitym the state deducts a city or town's contribution to the regional transit authority – in New Bedford's case, the Southeast Regional Transit Authority (SRTA).

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Mitchell said because New Bedford contributes $1 million to $2 million to SRTA annually "that would be larger than the fee that we would otherwise pay to the MBTA."

"For the foreseeable future it's not going to cost New Bedford anything," he said.

Mitchell said the Massachusetts Legislature could change the fee structure in the future but it would be "hard pressed to justify that."

"We should vote for it because it's not going to cost the city anything," he said.

The ballot question will be included on the ballot on November 8, 2022.

Listen to Mayor Mitchell's return to The Barry Richard Show here:

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