Officials mull bus service from Concord to Manchester airport
The state Department of Transportation is working with lawmakers to consider offering a shuttle service from Concord to Manchester’s airport.
State Sen. Sylvia Larsen said she asked state officials to explore the idea because it’s difficult to get from Concord to the Manchester Boston Regional Airport.
“It’s really easier to go to Logan airport (in Boston) right now by public transit than it is to get yourself to the Manchester airport – and it might be cheaper,” she said.
Larsen and other lawmakers will meet with transportation officials today about a potential bus route. The state could eventually apply for a federal grant to fund the bus service, said Mark Sanborn, federal liaison for the state Department of Transportation. But if plans move forward, he warned it could be years before the bus service begins.
“We’re in the very preliminary stages,” Sanborn said. “There’s no proposed service. This is the first conversation of many that need to take place for there to eventually be a service.”
Lawmakers proposed the idea after a recent meeting included talk of a new bus service from the Seacoast to the airport in Manchester, said Larsen, a Concord Democrat.
“So when we were approving it, I said, ‘Is there any chance we could have the same company make a run up to Concord?’ ” she said.
Sanborn said the state received a federal grant through a congestion mitigation and air quality program to fund the Seacoast shuttle, which was contracted out to a private company and will begin this summer. The route, called the east-west bus service, will make 20 daily trips with stops in Portsmouth, Epping, downtown Manchester and the Manchester airport.
Plans for the east-west bus service began six years ago with a feasibility study, Sanborn said. To receive federal grant money, he said the state had to prove the bus route would relieve congestion and improve air quality by reducing the number of cars on the road.
It’s not clear whether a bus service from Concord to Manchester would be eligible for a similar grant, Sanborn said.
“What type of service the communities would like to see happen will dictate what funding sources it will be eligible for,” he said.
Larsen said she thinks there could be enough demand for a bus service between Concord and the Manchester airport. Travelers can currently take buses from “the northern parts of our state down I-93 and come to Concord, but then if they want to go to the airport, you can’t,” she said.
Public transportation from the airport could also attract businesses to New Hampshire, Larsen said.
“I see that Manchester airport as a very strong economic development tool for our state,” she said.