The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round But Not to Boston Town
The classic children's song "The Wheels on the Bus," is a traditional American folk song written in the 1930s by Verna Hills of Boston.
Over the years, the lyrics have been changed a few times, and it will need another modification on April 16 when DATTCO Bus Lines discontinues 19 years of round-trip commuter service between New Bedford and Boston.
"We've tried to hold on for as long as possible, and now we're at a point where the only responsible thing to do is end this run," lamented Dennis Lyons, Vice President of DATTCO's Coach and Tour Groups.
"It's personally tough for me to have to walk away from this, because I began my career with American Eagle, making the commute in 1988," Lyons said. "Buses have been doing this route for 20 years before that."
Scheduled bus service, Lyons said, peaked just prior to the pandemic, but then COVID-19 threw a monkey wrench into the gears.
Lyons said that today, charter bus service is experiencing a resurgence, but commuter transportation is slow going.
"We've been losing money on it for years," he said. "We lost in excess of one million dollars over the last five years, and at this point, we're on track to lose $300,000 a year, and we just can't sustain the losses anymore."
There's a big difference between the taxpayer bankrolled MBTA and SRTA and a privately-owned bus company like DATTCO.
"We're a for-profit corporation. We're not the MBTA or SRTA," Lyons said. "We cut costs as far as possible, and if we were to raise fares, we'd have to double them, and obviously, some people wouldn't be able to afford it. Anyway you look at it, it would be a losing proposition."
The average round trip ticket costs about $22, and the average passenger count is about 65 people, going up and back. Compare those figures to 550 commuters daily back in the 1990s.
"We certainly appreciate all the many commuters who've traveled with us through out the years. I saw names today that were on the passenger's list back in the '90s," Lyons said. "We certainly appreciate the support that passengers gave our service. I feel badly about having to take the steps we've taken, but there's just no end game for us at this point."
The wheels on a train go round and round, round and round, round and round...