Comprehensive Operations Analysis

Proposed Bus Service Concept for 2020

Based on your feedback from our 2018 survey, COAST is proposing a service concept for 2020 that we want your thoughts on. The conceptual plan is NOT a final product or plan by any measure! At this point in the process we need to confirm whether or not we are on the right track, and the proposed plan is at a stage where many aspects are still very easily influenced by public input. 

While we have concluded our May and June 2019 public forums, comments are still welcome.

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Proposed Service Concept for 2020

View the Proposed Service Concept!


View the Proposed Service Concept! 




The proposed service concept separates the bus system into Express Routes and Local Routes. There are two Express Routes and eleven Local Routes.

The Express Routes allow fast regional travel between communities. These routes then connect to local services in Rochester, Dover, and Portsmouth, allowing travel to any served location in those and surrounding communities.

Clipper Connection services to the Shipyard from Dover and Rochester will be replaced by the Express Routes. A connection to the PNSY will be made in downtown Portsmouth. Combining services reduces cost and allows hourly connections into and out of the PNSY. The Clipper Connection 100 route will continue operating to the PNSY as a commuter route.

With a few noted exceptions, all routes would operate hourly to allow for convenient connections between routes, and many would run the same schedule on weekdays and Saturday.

Explanation of Proposed Service Concept

For the last 9 months, COAST has been analyzing our system to determine how best to meet the changing public transit needs of the region. In the fall and early winter of 2018, we asked for and gathered a tremendous amount of public input and validation of the importance of public transit to the region.

This feedback resulted in a more dramatic and creative pivot for the system than originally anticipated. This new conceptualized system is something we can envision as a very real possibility, including the financing (with some additional help), and it would in many ways be a large leap forward for public transit in the region.

When gathering public input, we heard confirmation of some of the problems we were already aware of in our current system. For example, it takes too long to make regional connections.

On our current system, it takes 90 minutes to travel between Rochester and downtown Portsmouth. That is equivalent to the time it takes to get from Dover to Boston on the train. People’s feedback confirmed that this undermines the usefulness of our current system for regional commutes.

To address this, and other concerns we heard, we have designed a conceptual plan for a system comprised of express routes and local routes. In all, this conceptual system better meets the needs of the region today, is much more streamlined, and represents a reduction in cost.

Goals of the Proposed Concept

COAST is seeking to achieve the following goals in the new proposed service design:

  • Separate local routes from routes making regional connections in order to achieve different goals with each type of route. (Speed up regional travel. Maximize geographic coverage within local communities.) 
  • Maintain a minimum of hourly frequencies throughout the day.
  • Operate weekdays and Saturdays. Maximize consistency between weekday and Saturday service.
  • Operate most services until at least 8:00 PM, and later when possible.
  • Prioritize hourly frequencies evenly spread throughout the day, and only add additional commuter service if/when the hourly frequency goal is met.
  • Use all funding that can pay for operations to maximize the amount of service operated. Only use capital grants or other dedicated funding for adding conveniences such as shelters.
  • Prioritize fixed route service throughout the system. Do not transition any fixed route services to advance reservation services if the fixed route services are achieving an efficiency higher than an advance reservation service can achieve (all our current fixed routes are more efficient than an advance reservation can be).
  • Operate within limited available revenues.

Benefits of the Proposed Concept

Customer Service

  • Significantly reduces travel times for the longest trips (by approximately 50%)
  • Improves timely connections between routes, making regional travel easier
  • Clockface scheduling on most routes
  • Extends service coverage to identified area
  • Maintains current daily span of service

Cost Efficiencies

  • An overall cost reduction from our current operation
  • Greater flexibility to operate routes only when sufficient demand exists
  • Makes better use of downtime and movements of vehicles when not in service to maximize revenue services
  • Eliminates service to some of the lowest ridership areas
  • Reduces peak vehicle requirement and associated costs


In all, this conceptual system better meets the needs of the region today, is much more streamlined, and represents a significant reduction in cost. 

Share your thoughts! 

We want to know what you think about the proposed service concept for 2020! Please send us your feedback. 

Reason for Contacting COAST

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Why change the bus service?

The Seacoast area is growing and changing, and so are the needs of our riders. COAST is performing a comprehensive review of our entire transit system to identify new opportunities to best serve all our communities. 

COAST is also preparing for significant funding challenges coming in the future. We are optimistic about working with our partners and community members to find creative solutions to these challenges. 

Please know that there are no immediate changes coming to our services. We are planning for 2020. 

What can I do to get involved?

If you feel motivated to take action, we encourage you to contact your NH senator and representatives to share how important public transit is to you and how it impacts your life. Please visit to get the contact information for your elected officials. 

Who is involved in the decision-making?

This re-design process is guided by a Steering Committee, made up of people who represent different communities and organizations across the region, who meet regularly to guide and shape the process and project. 

COAST is actively asking for input from the public along every step of this process. We are dedicated to making sure everyone has a chance to let their voice be heard by offering a series of public meetings, sending out surveys and email blasts, and encouraging communities to take an active role in this project.