Learn how to read COAST bus schedules

Reading a bus schedule

COAST uses the same schedule format for all routes.

Excerpt of Route 2 schedule exampleThis excerpt of a Route 2 schedule shows just part of the schedule for the southbound direction. Starting at the top left, the table shows the days that the route operates (M-F, Monday through Friday). The next line down is the first community the route starts in: (Rochester, NH). The next line down is the very first timepoint on the schedule, "Lilac Mall". A timepoint is a main stop that has a defined departure time, but there are many other stops between timepoints. For example, as you read down each line, you'll see the next timepoint is "Frisbie Memorial Hospital." There are several stops in between as the bus travels through downtown Rochester. If you don't know what stops are in between, you can find out by clicking on the "Bus Stop Listing" tab on any schedule.

The bus stop listing is divided into two columns, one for the Northbound and one for the Southbound direction. The Southbound list starts with Lilac Mall in bold - timepoints are always bold. You can see there are three stops after Lilac Mall before the next bold line, Frisbie Memorial Hospital.

If you are getting on downtown at South Main St. (Friendly's), it is two stops after Lilac Mall. Look at the schedule to the left - the bus leaves Lilac Mall at 6:25 AM, 7:25 AM and so on. The bus will pass Friendly's a few minutes later. This is how our schedules work for all routes. If your stop is between two timepoints, add a couple of minutes to the previous timepoint, and that is when you should be see the bus at your stop. 

The most important thing to remember is that schedules are approximate - you should always get to your stop a few minutes early so you don't miss your bus!

Making Connections

You've learned above how to read a schedule, which works well if you can get to the nearest bus and that route goes where you want to go. Sometimes, you'll need to take more than one bus to get where you're going.

First, figure out which route goes where you want to. Look at the Routes by Town page to find the town you're headed to, and what routes serve it. If you're not sure which one goes where you need, you can either check each route, or you can look at the full Schedules and Maps list to get a brief overview of main locations on each route.

Once you know which routes you'll need to make your trip, the best way to start is with your destination - wherever you need to be, which bus arrives there in time? Then work your way back to the first bus you have to take. For example, imagine you live in downtown Rochester and you're going to the Strafford County Courthouse. The bus that goes to the Courthouse is Route 33. If you have to be there at 9 AM, your best choice is the bus arriving at 8:25. If you backtrack on the schedule, you can see there is a connection point at the Dover Transportation Center () and the bus would leave there at 8:05. You also know that Route 2 goes from Rochester to the Dover Transportation Center. If you look at the Route 2 schedule, you see a bus scheduled to arrive at the  Dover Transportation Center () at 8:05 - there is your connection! That bus arriving at 8:05 leaves Rochester at 7:25 AM.

If you have to connect to other routes, make sure you tell the driver of the first bus when you are boarding. Let them know where you are going, so they know which route to call for the connection.

While connections are not guaranteed, we do time our system to make connections to all routes at a few main locations - the Lilac Mall, Dover Shaw's, Dover Transportation Center, Fox Run Mall, and Market Square.