November 2 Update
COAST Adopts New Face Covering Requirement on Buses
On October 28, the COAST Board of Directors passed a policy relative to required face coverings on board all COAST vehicles. The policy follows the CDC's latest interim guidance for "wearing of face masks while on public conveyances and at stations, ports, and similar transportation hubs".
Effective Monday, November 9, face coverings will be required of all passengers while boarding and traveling on any COAST bus, minibus, or minivan. The face covering must be worn over both the nose and mouth. The CDC interim guidance also identifies several exemptions under which categories of people may not be required to wear a mask. These include:
- a child under the age of 2 (masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2);
- a person with written instructions from a licensed medical provider to not wear a mask;
- a person with a disability, mental health condition, or sensory sensitivity that prevents that person from wearing a mask;
- a person who is hearing impaired, or communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communications;
- a person for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations; or
- a person operating or essential to operating a conveyance for whom wearing a mask would interfere with that person's ability to safely operate the conveyance.
For the first couple of weeks of this new policy, individually wrapped disposable face masks will be available for passengers who may need one.
"COAST is taking this step now as required use of face coverings while in public have become much more commonplace and accepted across our region, particularly as we are entering a third wave of the pandemic in our state," remarked Rad Nichols, COAST Executive Director. "We are taking this step as an organization to continue to promote safer travel aboard our public transit system."
"We understand that requiring face coverings can be a touchy subject for some," stated Dave Sandmann, COAST Chairman of the Board. "We request that passengers refrain from approaching or attempting to address other passengers who may not be wearing a face covering, as there may be any number of valid and unapparent reasons for their not doing so."
In compliance with the Governor's update Universal Guidelines under the Stay at Home Order, all COAST staff are required to wear a face covering/mask that covers the mouth and nose when providing assistance to customers inside or outside of the bus, except when operating the vehicle (driving). Masks are also not required to be worn when the vehicle is empty, or when in a COAST vehicle not in service for the purpose of transporting passengers. Policies for mask wearing by our employees have evolved over time, and the latest will be effective as of November 9. Job accommodations can be considered for employees who may have a medical condition or disability that would make it unsafe for them to wear a face covering/mask.
COAST has committed to providing a safe experience while riding the public transit system and has operated throughout the pandemic with the goal of reducing risks, and consequently exposure to, the COVID-19 virus. The new policy requiring face coverings is the next step in ensuring the riding public, and COAST staff's, safety given the current status of the pandemic.
June 29 Update
COAST Back to Full Service
With the launch of COAST's new system on June 29, we have returned to full service. We also encourage passengers to use our service for necessary trips vs. limiting trips to only those that are essential.
June 11 Update
10 Tips for Riding COAST Safely During the Pandemic
If you have not ridden public transit and COAST since the beginning of the pandemic, a lot has changed since the beginning of March.
We are sanitizing and sterilizing buses throughout the service day to make sure our buses are safe to ride. COAST has also treated all of our vehicles that are used in curb-to-curb transportation for older adults and individuals with disabilities with an EPA registered water-based antimicrobial nanocoating solution, that provides persistent and continuous protection against microbes (bacterias, molds and viruses).
For passengers, until there is an effective treatment or vaccine, here are some recommended steps for a safer and more enjoyable trip on public transit. Some are now seen as common sense; others are specific to public transit and common courtesy:
1. Stay at home if you are not feeling well. If you are sick or experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, you should stay at home. Do not touch your face, and cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow – not into the air or your open hand. Contain your microdroplets from your nose and mouth as much as possible.
2. Talk less and quietly onboard public transit. You release microdroplets whenever you speak, especially when you talk loudly and yell.
3. Wear a face mask or covering. As recommended by public health officials, you are urged to wear a face mask or covering while making a trip on public transit. This protects both yourself and others from potential coronavirus-carrying microdroplets, and they are an added tool given that adequate physical distancing may not always be possible, especially when ridership begins to increase.
4. Use available hand sanitizer when you board the bus. Spray a small amount of hand sanitizer on your hands at the time of boarding (available at the bus entrances) so that when you move back into the seating area, anything you touch is being touched by your just sanitized hands.
5. If you can, avoid the most heavily traveled times and travel when there are less people. Yes, there remain times when the buses are more crowded. These times will vary by bus route.
6. Be patient, respect other passengers and drivers, and pay your fare. We are all in this together. Be considerate; treat others like how you would like to be treated.
7. Minimize your conversations with the bus operators and please keep your distance. While the bus operators are always happy to help answer questions, they are using temporary curtains to protect them at bus stops. Please move through this area as quickly as possible and limit questions for now. If you need to ask a question, please do so from behind the “stand behind line”.
8. Let other passengers exit the vehicle first. Let passengers get off from the vehicle first before boarding. Also give them adequate space to deboard and clear before you move to step aboard.
9. Avoid making seating buddies unless you are riding together as a group; give extra space. Although physical distancing will not always be possible, spread out as much as possible when on the buses.
10. Limit your touching of your face mask or covering. It helps reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus from your hands to other surfaces.
We are doing our part to make our buses safe to ride and we are operating to meet our many passenger’s daily transportation needs.
May 29 Update
How we are keeping the Buses Safe to Ride
This is a video explaining how COAST is now using CURIS Decontamination System hydrogen peroxide foggers to regularly sterilize our fleet of public transit buses.
We are doing what we can to make riding COAST safe.
May 28, 2020 Update
COAST to Resume Additional Fixed Route Bus Service on June 1
Effective Monday, June 1, COAST will resume service on Route 41cc, and transition Route 40 and 41 from the current Saturday schedule to a new reduced weekday schedule.
The decision to resume more services on June 1 is consistent with the CDC’s latest decision matrix for public transit operators when considering reopening mass transit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For additional updates on COAST operations resuming on June 1 visit the individual route pages for Routes 40 & 41 at www.coastbus.org.
May 21, 2020 Update
COAST to Resume Additional Fixed Route Bus Service on May 26
Effective Tuesday, May 26 COAST Routes 1 and 33 will resume operating on a regular weekday schedule Monday-Friday. Route 1 will also continue regular Saturday operations.
We want to thank our staff for their commitment to COAST's mission and enabling our resumption of service.
We hope to be able to resume the services that currently remain suspended in the coming weeks.
May 4, 2020 Update
COAST to Resume Fixed Route Bus Service on May 11
COAST is resuming fixed route bus services (Routes 1, 2, 6, 40, 41, 100-103), and Route 7 On Demand, on Monday, May 11.
Due to staffing shortages as a result of COVID-19, not all services will return to normal operations on May 11. For a full list of services that will resume, please see below.
- Route 1 - Saturday service schedule on weekdays and Saturday
- Route 2 - Modified weekday schedule (No SB runs at 5:45a, 6:45a and 7:45a / No NB runs at 3:30p, 4:42p and 5:46p). Full Saturday schedule on Saturdays.
- Route 6 - Full weekday schedule.
- Routes 40/41 - Saturday schedule on weekdays and Saturday.
- Routes 100/101/03 - Full weekday schedule.
- Route 7 On Demand - Service by request available on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
As additional staff may become available to work, further services will be added back into the schedule.
In order to promote safe interactions between our passengers and staff, COAST is implementing a series of new guidelines and processes for traveling on our transit system. By following these guidelines and respecting social distancing recommendations, we believe we can safely resume service for essential trips.
New guidelines for safe travel with COAST:
- We request that passengers only use COAST for essential trip purposes, such as work, doctor's appointments, pharmacy, and groceries.
- For everyone's safety, passengers are strongly encouraged to wear a mask when riding a COAST vehicle.
- At times when close contact with passengers is avoidable, COAST bus operators will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, face shields, and gloves.
- For everyone's safety, COAST bus operators will be behind a clear protective barrier while passengers are boarding the vehicle.
- When boarding the buses, there will be a supply of spray-on hand sanitizer that passengers are encouraged to use before moving to their seat.
- COAST will no longer sell or accept 15-Ride Punch Tickets on our fixed route buses. If you have a 15-Ride Punch Ticket that you previously purchased, the bus operators will help you exchange your Punch Ticket for the equivalent amount of Single Ride Tickets, as a contactless fare payment alternative.
- When moving to your seat, please respect the caution tape that is being used to help maintain social distance between passengers.
- Please do not approach the bus operator while the bus is in motion, or when the clear protective barrier is open.
- New "Stand Behind" lines will be positioned further back in the cabin of the buses, away from the bus operators.
- There will be new guidelines for getting on and off the buses in a way that promotes safety and social distancing. More information about these guidelines will be made available closer to May 11.
We look forward to resuming service and helping you get to where you need to be, whether that is an essential job, to access groceries, go to the pharmacy or go to a doctor's appointment.
In recognition of the resumption of service mid-month, COAST monthly passes will be deeply discounted in May. COAST monthly passes will be sold for $30 vs. $52 and COAST Clipper monthly passes will be sold for $155 vs. $255. Partial refunds will be issued to any passengers who have already purchased full price monthly passes for the month of May.
To all the employers, co-workers, family members, and friends helping our passengers get to and from work and other critical services during the past few weeks - we say thank you. During our service suspension you all have been amazing.
For additional updates on COAST operationss resuming on May 11, please follow COAST on Facebook and Twitter (@COASTbus), download the DoubleMap App, or visit www.coastbus.org.
Be well and see you soon!
April 25, 2020 Update
This past week we focused on preparations for the resumption of fixed route service in May.
As you might expect, there are several things that must be in place before we can resume service. We have not set a date yet, as we are still waiting on the arrival of personal protective equipment (PPE) for our staff. Unfortunately, we can confirm at this point that our resumption of service will not be on May 4.
As an essential service, our return to service is based on our ability to have sufficient personal protective equipment for staff and operators, and is not related to the timing of the state's stay-at-home order should that be extended.
We are planning our comeback and we intend to make the transition as smooth and soon as possible. We recognize that there may be issues that come up and we are working to be as prepared as we can be to handle them effectively.
Thank you for all of your support and encouragement during our this incredibly difficult time. We will be back soon.
March 31, 2020 Update
COAST To Suspend All Fixed Route Bus Service
This afternoon, during an emergency meeting of the Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) Executive Committee, the decision was made to suspend all fixed route service, and Route 7 On Demand, effective the end of business today, March 31. The decision was not arrived at easily, but it was felt it was the only one that could be made.
The suspension of service will remain in place until May 4 and may be extended if the pandemic conditions warrant.
Fixed route services include: Route 1, Route 2, Route 6, Route 33, Route 40, Route 41, Route 41cc, Route 100, Route 101 and Route 103. Additionally, this suspension includes Route 7 On Demand.
"Our organization is extremely saddened with the decision that had to be made, but it is the best for the safety and health of our employees and passengers," said Rad Nichols, COAST Executive Director.
For individuals who have purchased monthly passes for the month of April, COAST staff will work with customers individually to reimburse them for their monthly pass purchase.
COAST will continue to operate paratransit services for those individuals who qualify under the various programs of this type that COAST operates (ADA, Portsmouth Senior Transportation, Community Rides, and accessible rides for Ready Rides). New applicants for these services will continue to have their applications reviewed for eligibility as normal.
The service day for paratransit services will be from 5:15 am to 6:00 pm, Monday - Friday. There will be no service on Saturdays. COAST asks that riders consider limiting their trips for only purposes deemed essential. Cost for paratransit services will use the same fare structure as typical.
Future updates on COAST operations will be communicated through social media, DoubleMap app, on our website, and through the media.