Bus from Manchester to Concord proving successful
More than 4,600 people have taken the bus from Concord to Manchester since the Manchester Transit Authority began a new bus route to the airport in July. But of those riders, more people are getting off downtown than at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, the primary target of the new service.
“A lot of our passengers seem to be going from Concord to downtown Manchester and vice versa,” said Ryan Smith, assistant executive director of the transit authority. “That seems to be where the bulk of the ridership is.”
Still, the success of the service means the transit authority will seek to continue it after a one-year trial period ends. To pay for the new service, the Manchester Transit Authority used federal money and a one-year matching grant from the state Department of Transportation, Smith said. If the Department of Transportation chooses not to keep funding the project next summer, the transit authority will apply for other grants so it can keep at least the most popular routes open.
“We are definitely going to continue it,” Smith said.
The $4 bus service from Stickney Avenue to downtown Manchester and the airport runs 11 trips five days a week, with the first bus leaving Concord at 5:05 a.m. and the last arriving back at 1 a.m. (The 3:55 a.m. departing bus was discontinued in November.)
Before this service, a morning and mid-afternoon bus ran from Concord to the Radisson, and passengers had to take a separate bus to the airport.
Right now, the most passengers use the early morning 5 a.m. bus and the 6 p.m. drop-off bus. About 11 to 15 ride the buses during those trips, Smith said. The number of riders grew steadily between July and October, when it hit a peak of 1,148. There were 695 riders in July, 992 in August and 975 in September. November saw a drop, with only 856 passengers, but the bus service did not run on Thanksgiving or Veterans Day.
There are frequent inquiries about weekend bus service, Smith said, and the transit authority may explore offering Saturday services (it does not run any buses on Sundays). Offering Saturday buses primarily depends on the costs, Smith said. When the transit authority first started running a bus to Nashua, there was no Saturday route. Once it added Saturday buses, however, that became a popular service.
(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3390 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kronayne.)