Travel Talk: Job well done on Concord-Manchester airport bus service!
Great travel news is rare indeed. That’s one of the reasons I’m thrilled to be writing about the scheduled bus service between Concord and the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport that will start July 1. This has potential to be a real game-changer for airport patrons – both departing and arriving – not to mention the airport itself and the capital region.
Equally remarkable, though, is how the service came about – through the hard (and bi-partisan!) work of New Hampshire state Sens. Sylvia Larsen and David Boutin and Rep. Candace Bouchard, the spot-on collaboration of several city and state agencies, and the serendipitous availability of federal funds, courtesy of the Manchester Transit Authority. And all this at warp speed for governmental deliberation and decision-making: under six months!
Right now if you’re flying out of Manchester, you can drive your own car and use on-property or off-property parking, or you can hire private transportation, such as a limo, cab, shared ridership van or private car. But that’s about to change. Beginning July 1, you can take a regularly scheduled public bus service between the Concord Transportation Center (concordcoachlines.com, 226-8888) on Stickney Avenue and Manchester Regional (flymanchester.com, 624-6539).
There’ll be a quick stop on Elm Street (near the Radisson and Veterans Park) for pick-up and drop-off on the mid-day runs, but the schedule still gets you point-to-point in a little over 35 minutes. Fares are $4 each way, and just $2 for seniors 65+ or the disabled. The buses themselves will not be the usual Concord Coaches accommodating about 55 passengers; rather they will be smaller buses designed for about 30 passengers. The service will be funded for one year. Depending on ridership and possible funding factors, it will continue beyond 2014.
A big part of travel is about getting from one place to another efficiently. In Europe, planes, trains and buses are usually connected in a virtually seamless network of coordinated schedules. Here in the U.S.? Not so much. But the architects of this new service were indeed thinking beyond the American model.
There will be 12 Concord-MHT trips a day, beginning about 4 a.m. (that’s right, 4 a.m.!) and ending with a 12:15 a.m. return from the airport that rolls into Concord at 12:45 a.m. The schedule is designed to coordinate not only with the heaviest flight times in/out of the airport (imagine!), but thought has also been given to bus connections from other parts of the state – Nashua and Portsmouth, for example.
This type of scheduling makes Manchester Regional much more convenient for early/late flights than Boston’s Logan, where bus and flight schedules often work only for mid-day flights.
Keeping in the loop
People often tell me that they tend to cut out “Travel Talk” and save the tips, and this one is worth it. Heck, I’m going to post it on my own fridge! But watch the papers, too. The collaboration calls for the Manchester airport to advertise and raise public awareness, an exciting prospect for the folks there.
The scheduling will be the responsibility of the Manchester Transit Authority, or MTA (mtabus.org, 623-8801), which is posting information on its home page under “News/Events – Coming Soon! Route 4 Concord-MHT Express.” Note that Route 4 doesn’t refer to New Hampshire Route 4 headed toward Portsmouth, but the designation as the authority’s fourth route (out of 13 routes).
The last piece of collaboration is parking, which will be available free at the Concord Transportation Center.
True, those lots are often packed, but don’t worry, they’ve already talked about additional parking to meet demand.
I can only say to all involved, “Well done!”