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N.H. Odd Couples: Sylvia Larsen and David Boutin

Earlier this year, Republican state Sen. David Boutin and I started talking about the all the people and businesses we represent who had approached us wanting more ways to get between Concord and Manchester, particularly to the airport. We wondered if there would be any way to get regular bus service going.

The more we talked, the more we thought this just made sense. After all, we were talking about better connections between the state’s largest and third-largest cities and with one of our state’s biggest economic assets: the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. This would help people, make the airport a more convenient travel choice and more competitive with Boston Logan, and boost commerce in our state.

We worked with state Rep. Candace Bouchard, a Democrat from Concord who chairs the House Transportation Committee, and helped to round up a group of transportation officials, regional planners, transit operators and airport officials. Mike Whitten, head of the Manchester Transit Authority, identified federal funds that could be accessed to operate the service for a year while a long term plan was studied and developed. We worked for and got a match of state toll credits.

The result? Service started in July with 11 round trips a day. Ridership has grown from 695 passengers in the first month to 1,168 in October, nearly doubling. The service is affordable at $4 per trip, but so popular that it is already at about the same proportion of public support as other public transit in the state.

This has been a win for people, businesses, and the economy.

(Sylvia Larsen of Concord is the Democratic leader of the state Senate.)

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