It’s a rainy morning in Fairhaven, on the edge of the Acushnet River. The birds and seagulls interrupt the silence at daybreak, and the sound of an engine announces the departure of DATTCO’s SouthCoast to Boston bus.
At 6:45 a.m., Emily Dussault arrives accompanied by her husband Matthew. He carefully guides Emily, who is blind, to the bus ladder, where he gives her a loving farewell hug. She extends her cane, climbs aboard, pays her fare, and sits in the first seat on the right.
A new journey begins that will take passengers through the downtown terminal and Mt. Pleasant Park in New Bedford, the Galleria Mall in Taunton, and finally arrive at South Station in Boston. It is one of the last trips, according to DATTCO, whose owners announced that the route will end April 16.
The company says the service is no longer profitable, but for the many in the South Coast who use it, it is invaluable. Passengers who have had a few weeks to think of alternatives say the best option (until the train arrives later this year) is to drive around 30 minutes to the Middleboro/Lakeville station.
“It will be a big change that I will have to adapt to,” says Dussault, who works as a secretary in Boston and lives in Fairhaven. She says she is worried about how the change will affect her family’s routine, as she depends on them for transportation.
A second blind passenger, Phil Zukas from New Bedford, takes a deep breath and says that he has thought about looking for another job, but that is not easy for him. “This represents some unique challenges for me as a blind and mature man who is aging in his job,” he says.
Patty Melo, also from New Bedford, has been traveling to her job in Boston for 24 years. Her new plan is to go to Middleboro/Lakeville and she says she plans to ask for support from work for her budget change.
Honduran Rubén Martínez did not know about DATTCO’s closure. He takes the bus every month for medical check-ups in Boston. “We’ll see what we’re going to do,” he says.
Gerardo Beltrán Salinas is a Chilean journalist in New Bedford.
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