Improved schedules on route 2 and trolley
Wednesday, May 30, 2011
Contact: Rad Nichols, Executive Director, COAST
COAST is excited to announce plans to significantly improve schedules on two of its most heavily-utilized routes, beginning June 25th this year and continuing for at least the next five years.
As part of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation's construction project to improve traffic capacity on the Spaulding Turnpike and rehabilitate the Little Bay Bridges, COAST and Wildcat Transit have been awarded grant funds to add service on public transit routes that will mitigate some of the traffic impact over the bridges between Dover and Newington.
Schedules are being reconfigured to make vast improvements for weekday commuters. Route 2, which connects Rochester, Somersworth, Dover, Newington and Portsmouth, will be improved so that there is a bus every half hour heading south to Portsmouth between 5:30am and about 9:00am. Likewise, from about 3:00pm until 6:00pm a bus will run every half-hour from Portsmouth headed north. The improvements funded under this project have also allowed COAST to reconfigure the off-peak schedules so that outside of those periods there is a bus consistently every hour. Weekday service on route 2 runs from 5:30am until about 9:00pm.
In addition to the improvements for route 2, the Portsmouth-Pease Trolley system will undergo similar schedule enhancement to improve circulation around Portsmouth. The Trolley system currently comprises two routes. The Pease Tradeport Trolley, route number 40, serves the malls, Pease, Borthwick Ave, Islington Street and downtown. It connects directly with the Lafayette Road Trolley, numbered 41, serving downtown, Middle Street, and Lafayette Road as far as Ocean Road and the Hillcrest Estates. The Trolley schedules will be improved, like route 2, for service every half-hour between 6:00am and 9:00am, and again from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. Outside of those periods, the trolley operates every hour during the weekdays until about 9:00pm.
The University of New Hampshire's Wildcat Transit route 4, which connects Durham/UNH, the malls, and downtown Portsmouth, is expected to undergo similar schedule improvements when students return this fall. During the University off-season, Wildcat Transit operates a limited "Reduced Service" schedule weekdays only.
The NHDOT has agreed to fund five years of the expanded peak-period bus service as part of the Newington-Dover bridge construction project. COAST hopes to take advantage of the vastly improved bus service over those five years to build support for its continued operation past year five. If the ridership supports keeping the added service, COAST will need significant additional financial support from the State and Federal governments, and communities that are served by the bus routes.
"These improvements to the route 2 and Trolley schedules are going to make a huge impact for everyone in the Seacoast who has traditionally been 'on the fence' about public transit," said Jeremy LaRose, manager of operations and planning for COAST. "We've seen before on our system when you take a route that runs irregularly or infrequently and add enough service to overcome those issues, the increase in riders is tremendous." COAST staff expect that the improved level of service will generate record numbers of riders. COAST passenger counts have grown significantly year-over-year for almost every one of the last dozen years. System-wide ridership topped 460,000 in fiscal year 2011.
The COAST bus system includes numerous other routes serving eleven communities with regularly scheduled fixed-route service. The system is scheduled so that buses connect predictably and reliably to provide simple and efficient transportation access across the region. Associated with the fixed-route buses is a paratransit service provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act that supports riders whose disabilities prevent them from using the regular bus routes. Additionally, COAST operates or supports a number of other rural transportation services in Strafford and Rockingham counties, as well as a new pilot commuter bus service called the Clipper Connection, primarily serving the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the Pease Tradeport.
COAST was established in 1981 and began operating bus service in the fall of 1982. As a non-profit public agency, COAST depends on Federal Transit Administration grants, local funding, advertising, and rider fares to support our services. Find out more about our system and our work to improve public transportation options in New Hampshire at www.coastbus.org, or call us at 603-743-5777.
To see the planned schedule improvements, which begin Monday, June 25th, 2012:
For more details and news on the project, see the Little Bay Bridge service expansion page.
There are no major changes for routes 1, 6 or 7 at this time; all connections with route 2 remain the same. The first weekday run of route 1 has been shifted by 5 minutes earlier; all other runs remain the same. Route 33 is undergoing significant modification; details can be found in another news release regarding changes to the Dover FastTrans project.