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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 kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)

Because this bus service to the Manchester airport is there, I will now consider flying from Manchester, where before I would not. Why? Because Manchester sticks it to you as bad as Boston for parking. You can park for free for ever in Concord and take the bus, which drops you off right at your terminal. Sure, they're not covering costs, but who cares? They have free money, pennies from heaven! They have grants! Everyone just knows grants are free money, that just fell from the sky.

Sadly the issues with the MHT Airport are pretty simple and have nothing to do with getting to the airport. The fares to fly out of MHT are very costly. A 45 minute trip to NYC is 700.00 round trip. I know because I have always tried to fly out of MHT and the fares are off the charts. So much so, you could get a car to drive you to Boston and still save money. Really sad, as MHT is so close and would get a lot of folks coming up from Nashua to use it. They have pretty much priced themselves out of business. Jet Blue was suppose to come to MHT and Air Tran but both of them backed out. Only Southwest manages to do any business it seems. You can still fly to Florida for a decent price on SW. But an airport cannot survive with high fares and fewer flights.

Lets do a simple word problem. Lets run the numbers for the best month ( October) The bus makes 11 round trips per day. October 2013 had 23 operating days. That comes to 253 round trips in October. 1148 riders gives you a average of 4.5 riders per round trip or an average of 2.5 riders each way. These people pay $ 4.00 per ride This is an average fare collected $ 10 each way. So, This is a successful ?

You have to ask yourself also...is owning and operating a vehicle "successful" transportation? If we are comparing costs it isn't. I'm assuming most people will trust the American Automobile Association as a legitimate source on driving costs? If so you might be surprised to hear that an average AAA member, driving an average 15,000 miles a year spends 60.8 cents for every mile they drive. That is equivalent to $9,122 per year (see hyperlink: newsroom.aaa.com/wp-content/.../2013/04/YourDrivingCosts2013.pdf ) . A monthly MTA pass is $50 or $600 per year. That's a big difference. In today's economy, I'd say a savings of $8,000 in the wallet is very successful. The problem is that people don't use it. Why? Because service is not convenient. Why isn't it convenient? Because there is no dedicated revenue for public transit in NH like there is for roads. The subsidy that this article speaks of is not NH money, its federal money. The purpose of the money is a federal grant to pilot a service. If the service is successful, the state is supposed to continue to pay for it. Fat chance in NH. Next time you drive the highway count each car and multiply that by $9,000. You'll get a sense of all the money that we throw down the drain funding the transportation system the way it is.

when a journalist fails to ask the question of "HOW MUCH DOES IT COST" then you know the journalist is a flaming liberal.

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