Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some tips for riding the COAST bus. If you've never used a bus before, you might have questions similar to the topics below. These are the most important things to know to get started using the bus.
Choose a topic below to learn more.
- Can I just call someone and ask?
- Where do COAST buses go (in general)?
- Where can I get on the bus (specifically)?
- How do I read the schedule?
- How do I know the bus will pick me up?
- How do I get the bus to stop where I want to get off?
- What if I have to use more than one bus? (Making connections, transfers)
- What can or can't I bring on the bus?
- How much does the bus cost? / Do I need a ticket?
- The bus stop is too far away to walk to!
- I am a person with a disability. What services do you provide?
- Lost and found: I left something on the bus! How do I get it back?
Sure! Our dispatcher is happy to help you get started on riding the bus. Below are two questions you should know the answer to before you call. Also, don't be afraid to say you've never used the bus before. We'll be glad to explain how.
- Where are you, and where are you going? It helps to tell us what town you are in and a nearby street or major business (the Somersworth Wal-Mart, or Main Street in Rochester, for example).
- What time do you need to be there? Unlike large city transportation, COAST buses do not necessarily run "every 15 minutes" or "quarter past every hour". Our schedules vary throughout the day.
COAST routes serve eleven communities in Seacoast New Hampshire:
Dover, Exeter, Farmington, Greenland, Newington, Newmarket, Portsmouth, Rochester, Somersworth, Stratham, and Berwick, Maine. If you consider COAST part of the same bus network as Wildcat Transit, you can add Durham/UNH to that list.
The bus network connects all of these towns together with weekday (and limited weekend) service year-round. You can get around town, or between different towns.
We also connect to all major intercity transportation: C&J (Dover / Portsmouth / Newburyport / Boston and Logan Airport), Greyhound (anywhere in the U.S.), and the Amtrak Downeaster (train between Portland and Boston). COAST bus routes generally have a bus stop approximately every 1/4 mile.
COAST bus stop signs are located approximately every 1/4 mile along every route. You can stand near the bus stop sign before the scheduled time the bus will arrive. To get started, see our guide by town to get a general sense of what bus service is available in each town.
Then you can find a stop listing on each route's page. Stops are named for the street they are on, followed by what the nearest intersection or point of interest is. For example, Central Ave. (Care Pharmacy) is a popular Route 2 stop, located on Central Ave near Care Pharmacy. Further up the road you will find Washington St./Central Ave., which is located on Washington St, near the intersection with Central.
You can also check out our area using Google Maps - if you zoom in close to a location, you can see bus stops. Click on one to find out what routes serve that stop and when the next scheduled stops are. If you're using Google to search for businesses, any nearby public transit will display on the map.
When you look at a COAST schedule, you might become quickly confused by all the words and numbers. Don't worry, it happens to everyone! This explanation should clear things up for you.
COAST schedules only show times for some of the bus stops. In between those times are many other bus stops that you can wait at or get off at, all along the route. We usually have a bus stop every 1/4 mile along the road. In other words, if you live near High Street in Somersworth but not near Wal-Mart or Charpentier Apts., there is probably a closer stop on the bus stop listing. Click on the image, right, to enlarge the example.
For example, let's say you live near Dover City Hall and you want to go to Portsmouth's Market Square. You would take the Route 2 Southbound bus. The City Hall stop is between Dover Transportation Center and St. Thomas HS. The stop you need is closer to Dover Transportation Center, so you can assume the bus will come a few minutes after it leaves the DTC. If you wanted to get to Market Square by 3:00pm, you would go to the bus stop around 2:00, since the bus gets to Dover Transportation Center at 2:05, and it's good to be a few minutes early.
Lastly, if you're not sure what "timepoint" your stop is closest to, check the "Bus stop listing" tab for that route. It will tell you the stops in order of travel. The timepoint stops are in bold print.
Click here to see the example in action.
Don't stand behind a telephone pole or other objects. It helps to move around a little bit or wave as the bus approaches. Also, be sure to stay away from traffic, especially in the winter. Standing on top of an icy snowbank is dangerous. If there's nowhere safe to stand next to the bus stop sign, find the nearest driveway on the same side of the street. If all else fails, call COAST and let us know where you are.
If you are not standing near a bus stop sign, the bus is not likely to stop and pick you up. Unfortunately, we must be prepared for New England weather; if it is raining or snowing, you still have to wait outside at the stop before the bus gets there, or it will continue driving past.
There are pull-cords or yellow tape on the inside of every bus that sound a bell telling the driver to make the next stop. COAST buses can only stop at designated bus stops. Make sure you are watching and pull the cord (or press the yellow tape) at least a block before your stop, so the bus driver knows soon enough to stop safely. If you don't know exactly where the stop is that you want to get off at, just speak with the driver and tell them you are new.
Sometimes you may have to take two (occasionally three) buses to reach your destination. On every COAST route page, we list the other routes you can connect to along with the best location.
The key to making sure you can catch your next bus is to tell the driver when you board the first bus that you are trying to connect to another route. Drivers are trained to know connections to other bus routes, and if they don't know the answer, they can call dispatch for assistance. We generally time our own bus routes to connect within a few minutes of each other. We also may make some connections with Wildcat Transit routes, although these fluctuate more.
We cannot guarantee connections. We do our best, but buses are often delayed by traffic (especially on Fridays and during the holidays). We will hold our own routes for no more than 5 minutes for any connection, except in extreme cases or the last run of the evening.
We do not currently offer "transfers". You must pay the fare for each bus you board (have exact change ready).
Lastly, we cannot guarantee connections with other services such as the Downeaster, C&J, or Greyhound. Those services are scheduled on their own priorities and it is impossible for COAST to keep our schedules coordinated with theirs at all times. It is the responsibility of the passenger to plan ahead for such connections.
Infant strollers are allowed onboard the bus. However, it is best if you plan to carry your child on your lap during the ride. Strollers should be folded up and tucked in between or underneath seats. Strollers cannot be left in the aisle, or in the doorway.
Other large objects that could be dangerous, especially in a collision, are not permitted on the bus. The driver must use their discretion and may ask you to leave an especially large object behind. If you are permitted on board, the object(s) must be stowed carefully between seats and cannot sit in the aisle or doorways.
You are welcome to bring groceries with you. We recommend trying to keep your shopping limited to what you can carry on board by yourself. Using the bus to do a week's worth of food shopping is not recommended.
Every COAST bus is equipped with a bike rack capable of carrying 2 standard bicycles. Some newer buses have a 3-bike capacity, but this is not guaranteed. Rack space is available on a first-come, first-served basis only. If the rack is full, you will not be able to bring your bike on board the bus. We apologize for any inconvenience. Passengers should load their bikes on their own. A bus operator can assist you if necessary. Loading bikes is a very simple process.
Watch the video to the right about loading a bike on the bike rack. Although produced for MUNI in San Francisco, the video demonstrates the same bike rack used for COAST and Wildcat Transit.
For more information about biking in the Seacoast NH region, check out SABR (Seacoast Bike Routes).
COAST bus routes are very affordable. Most trips are $1.50 or less, one way. Some local trips in Dover or Portsmouth are only 50 cents, depending on what route you use. You don't have to buy a pass or ticket ahead of time - just bring the exact change with you to the bus stop. Drivers cannot make change, and they cannot recover money from the farebox if you put too much in!
See our Fares page for complete information. Whether you get on the bus with cash or a pass, have it ready when the bus arrives.
Want to reduce your car trip and support public transit, but the nearest bus stop is far from your house? If you have a disability that prevents you from walking to the nearest stop, see question #11 below for more information.
COAST promotes a healthy lifestyle, and recommends that even a mile walk (average about 15 minutes of time) is worth it to leave your car in the driveway. You can also ride a bike to a stop, and either bring it with you on the rack (see above), or lock it at the stop. Many of our major stops have bike storage racks.
Another option that many people take advantage of is a combination of using Park & Ride style transportation and/or carpooling. Perhaps you can get a ride (or provide one) with a neighbor who is going the same direction as you. You could get to a central bus stop and finish your trip using COAST. Another option is to drive to one of the Park & Ride style parking lots and use the bus the rest of the way. For example, if you live in Barrington but work in Dover, it might be helpful to drive into Dover and park your car at the Exit 9 Park & Ride and take Route 33 into town.
All COAST buses are fully compliant with the ADA. Every bus has a working accessible lift for anyone who has difficulty boarding or exiting the bus, whether that person uses a wheelchair or walker, or simply cannot climb steps. Most newer COAST buses, especially on the high-volume routes, are "low-floor" and require only a single step into the bus. These buses can also "kneel", meaning the front of the bus lowers while stopped so you don't have to climb up into the bus. COAST buses are all capable of carrying two passengers using wheelchairs. We cannot require anyone to transfer to a regular seat.
COAST provides paratransit service which complements our bus routes. If you have a disability that prevents you from independently getting to a bus stop, riding the bus, navigating the route, or identifying the bus you need, you may qualify for this paratransit/ADA service. Please call for more details: 603-743-5777 extension 107 (TDD: 800-735-2964).
Call our dispatcher at (603) 743-5777 (press 1 for dispatch). We'll need to know what you lost, when you think you lost it, and what bus route you were on. If we've found it, we can hold it for you to pick up at our office. However, COAST claims no responsibility for lost items. Please check for belongings around your seat before you leave the bus.