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Editorial: From Larsen, a good question

Why not a bus to the Manchester airport?

Have there ever been eight lovelier words spoken at the State House?

Frequent travelers from Concord and points north are familiar with the strange conundrum that makes it easier to get to Logan International Airport in Boston than to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport just down the road. After all, you can take a Concord Coach bus to Logan nearly a dozen times a day – no need to fight the traffic, no need to pay for pricey airport parking, no need to beg a ride from a kindly friend or relative. But there’s no public transportation to the Manchester airport from Concord – even though the Logan bus sails right through the city.

Starting this summer, the state will offer a bus from the Seacoast to Manchester airport, which led Concord Sen. Sylvia Larsen to ask the obvious question: What about us?

The beauty of this question is that unlike the many, many difficult transportation challenges facing state government these days, this one is relatively straightforward and easy to investigate.

The new Seacoast line is being funded with a federal grant aimed at mitigating highway traffic. It will make 20 daily trips with stops in Portsmouth, Epping, downtown Manchester and the Manchester airport. Is there similar population to justify a similar service from Concord to the airport?

How many riders who currently take the bus from Tilton, Plymouth, Berlin and Littleton to Concord and then on to Boston would be interested in such a service?

Could the Logan bus simply stop at the Manchester airport a few times a day, for starters, without disrupting the schedules of Boston travelers?

Would a bus to the Manchester airport generate interest from more local travelers if it also stopped, say, on Elm Street or at the Currier Museum of Art?

Among the issues facing Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Legislature this year: How will New Hampshire pay for the rest of the Interstate 93 widening project? Is it time to raise the gas tax to fix decaying roads and bridges? Does commuter rail make sense for the state?

Those are big questions with costly price tags. A bus from Concord to the airport is smaller and simpler to figure out. If it worked, what a nice benefit for air travelers.

Legacy Comments2

The question of why MHT does not do more business has nothing to do with access. It is all about high cost of flights. When you can save 400 bucks by flying out of Boston as opposed to flying out of MHT, guess where you will go. MHT has fewer flights and fewer non stops and off the chart costs. Just do a search on Orbitz and see the difference in price to fly out of MHT vs BOS for an hour trip to NYC. When you have fewer flights and high costs for those flights, folks go elsewhere. Cheaper to hire a car to drive you to and from Logan for a flight than it is to fly our of MHT.

Good question! Linking existing bus service from the north of Manchester to the NH airport would be a big plus to many and a shot in the arm for our struggling Manchester Airport. Plus, the airport could finally have a direct link to Boston on regular bus service that would make our local airport a more viable alternative to the Boston-bound traveler. Yes, this would likely require a relatively small subsidy to get started, but those who say there should be no subsidies for travel should take a close look at how highways and gasoline are really funded.

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