Expanded Bus Service Means More Options

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Additional trips on main routes to help people get around this summer

Dover, NH – As gas prices remain high and warm weather brings increased traffic on Friday nights, the Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) is launching expanded summer bus service on its two most popular routes. The expanded schedules, first launched successfully last summer, provide increased flexibility for people seeking an alternative to the expense of driving their cars through summer traffic.

As many people continue to look for travel alternatives, improved frequency of bus service on Friday and Saturday evenings can meet that need. This summer, COAST will again be expanding its Friday and Saturday bus schedules for Route 2, which travels through Rochester, Somersworth, Dover, Newington, and Portsmouth. Also included in the summer expansion is service on COAST Route 1 throughout the day on Saturdays. Route 1, which operates through Dover, Somersworth, and Berwick, normally operates only during the weekdays. Routes 1 and 2 connect hourly in Dover, providing a popular option for residents of Berwick and downtown Somersworth to access Rochester, Dover, the malls, and Portsmouth.

The service expansion will begin on Friday, June 24th and continue every Friday and Saturday through September 3rd, 2011. “COAST is committed to improving service and we are excited to provide this expansion during a busy travel season again this year,” stated Executive Director Rad Nichols. “With service operating through the hearts of eleven communities, COAST makes it easy to enjoy local shopping, dining, and area events,” adds Nichols.

Riding the bus is becoming a more popular option amongst Seacoast residents. Passenger counts in COAST’s previous fiscal year were a record-high 410,000. Trends this year indicate COAST may top 440,000 passenger trips by the end of the fiscal year in September, 2011. Ridership is increasing tremendously as people seek to stretch the value of their dollar. Jeremy LaRose, COAST’s Manager of Operations, stated, “When you put together the expense of gas, parking, and maintaining your car, it makes a lot of sense to save that money by riding the bus.”

While the expanded service is a significant improvement for passengers, LaRose says the work isn’t finished for COAST. “The expanded service represents our best efforts as a public agency to get the most out of our budget. There’s still a great need for more frequent service year-round, and we intend to find a way to make that happen,” said LaRose. COAST is largely funded through agreements with the communities it serves, which provides necessary matching dollars for funds through the Federal Transit Administration.

Those local community funding agreements have remained in place despite challenging economic times, as communities understand the importance of public transit. “Without the strong support of both our riders and the political leadership within the communities we serve, COAST wouldn’t exist,” said Nichols. He continued, “Our goal is to keep working to find ways to fund permanent, year-round service improvements.”

The Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) has provided public transit service to the Seacoast New Hampshire region since 1982. Over 11 million passengers have boarded COAST buses. COAST is a public, non-profit transit system that relies primarily on federal and local government support to operate.

For complete information on the expanded routes, schedules, and service, visit COAST’s website at www.coastbus.org. If you’ve never used the bus before, feel free to call their dispatcher for help getting started. Dispatchers are available Monday through Saturday starting June 25th, between 6:00AM and 8:00PM. Call 603-743-5777 (TDD: 1-800-735-2964). See you on the bus!

Contact: Jeremy LaRose, Manager of Operations and Planning, COAST 603-743-5777