Comprehensive Operations Analysis

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Reason for Contacting COAST
Project Phases

This redesign project consists of 4 main phases:

Phase 1: Planning

Communities are always changing. This has been especially true in the 4 cities and 6 towns that make up COAST’s service area.

The places that residents, workers, and visitors want to travel to and from have changed, as well as the number of people who travel between these areas. Similarly, the days and hours that people work and shop have also changed.

With all these changes, the time had come for COAST to review our transit system to make sure we were providing the best service to meet customer needs and stay within our budget. As part of this process, COAST began a “Comprehensive Operation’s Analysis,” or “COA” in the summer of 2018 to determine how service might best evolve.

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 during Round 1 of our public forums. For more information on the results of what we heard back please see the 2018 Survey Results summaries in the FAQs (scroll down).

In the late spring, early summer of 2019, we presented our service concept goals, developed in response to the public feedback gathered in the fall, and presented a proposed service redesign concept (Round 2 of our public forums). At the same time, we met with each of the communities in which fixed route bus service was proposed to be operated to discuss the proposed service concept and how it varied from the current services being provided. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, as the redesigned service was heavily shaped by the feedback we received.

Over the summer of 2019 we worked to incorporate feedback obtained during the second round of public forums and community meetings, as well as conduct an analysis on fare considerations for, and impacts created by, the new system. We also began discussing how to fund the service concept, which would need additional new sources of funds in order to be able to be implemented.

In August of 2019 the NHDOT agreed to partner with COAST and fund the implementation of the new system over the next three (3) years (at a minimum). The NHDOT conditionally awarded nearly $5 million dollars of Federal funding be directed to COAST to assist in the transition to a new overall system design to enhance cost efficiencies and improve customer service.

In the early fall of 2019, we presented a revised draft of the system, the proposed new system timetables and a proposed fare structure (Round 3 of our Public Forums). Given the specificity of the proposed timetables, we received more targeted and consequential feedback on the proposed system concept than the previous round. Presentations were also made to both NH Regional Planning Commissions and MPOs in the region during the early fall.

In the late fall of 2019, a final (fourth) Round of public forums was held to gather public input and hold public hearings on a final proposed service redesign.

Phase 2: Approval

Based on all the public input gathered between September 2017 and December 2018, on December 18, 2019 the COAST Board of Directors approved the final service redesign, fare and fare media, additional new ‘no service’ holidays, and a temporary extension of service to current ADA-eligible clients no longer within the new service area, for implementation on June 29, 2019.

The final service redesign included the following:

Routes:

  • Route 1                 Dover / Somersworth / Berwick
  • Route 6                 Farmington / Rochester
  • Route 12              Rochester / Somersworth / Dover
  • Route 13              Dover / Portsmouth
  • Route 14              Rochester / Dover / Portsmouth
  • Route 33 Wkd    Downtown Dover / County Complex
  • Route 33 Sat       Downtown Dover / Portland Ave.
  • Route 34              Downtown Dover / Knox Marsh Rd.
  • Route 40              Islington / Borthwick Trolley
  • Route 41              Lafayette Trolley
  • Route 42              Pease Shuttle
  • Route 43              Newington / Portsmouth
  • Route 44              Portsmouth City Hall / Kittery (PNSY Gate 1)
  • Route 100            Somersworth / Berwick / Kittery (PNSY Gate 1)

For more details on these routes, please see the interactive service map and/or schedules.

Fares & Fare Media:

No changes were proposed to the base cash fare to ride ($1.50). There will be no free transfers, except between Routes 13, 14, & 43. There will continue to be discounted fare media, including a $20 15-Ride Punch Ticket and a $52 Monthly Pass.

Additionally, based on feedback during the 3rd round of Public Forums, a new $20 24-Ride Half Fare Punch Ticket will be made available. Eligibility will be limited to registered COAST Half-Fare pass holders.

Additional No-Service Holidays:

Two additional proposed no service holidays, a cost saving measure, will be Christmas Eve and Martin Luther King Jr./Civil Rights Day.

Temporary Extension of Service to Current ADA Clients No Longer Within the New Service Area:

Current ADA clients whose homes no longer fall within the service area (as a result of fixed route modifications), will be temporarily eligible to still receive service to/from their home residences through the end of calendar year 2020.

Phase 3: Preparation & Education

In late November of 2019, staff began the transition from planning the new service redesign to preparing for launch of the new system in just seven short months (June 29, 2020).

Preparations include the following, which are all currently underway:

  • Google Transit feed update – this database, including all bus stops, times and routes, fare details, holidays, etc. needs to be rewritten and updated. This is what the Google Trip Planner uses to plan trips and what our website uses to display each bus route’s schedules and maps.

  • Schedule Brochures – these are being completely redesigned, based partially on the types of questions we receive relative to misunderstanding our current printed materials. Given the larger number of bus routes we will be operating we will need to move to separate printed pieces for each bus route. Our plan is to have it be a folded piece with specific route information on one side and system information on the other.
  • Website Update – new routes means lots of updates to our website.
  • Bus Destination Signs/In-Bus Announcements – all bus destination sign and in-bus announcements need to be updated with information for the new Routes. There is a surprising amount of work that goes into this!
  • New Bus Stop Locations – in many of the communities we service we are adding new bus stop locations, as the routes have changed. Each community handles this differently, but by the end of January 2020, most had been approved.
  • Bus Stop Signs – we are taking this opportunity to redesign our bus stop signs (all 440+) to display new service information.
  • Staff Training – we have been preparing for how to most efficiently train our staff on the new system, to both answer basic questions (or redirect folks to where they can find the information) and learn the intricacies of the new routes and how they are driven. We have surveyed our operators to try to identify how they best feel they can absorb the information and will offer a variety of different training techniques/opportunities to assist them with getting up to speed.
  • Marketing & Education – the best way to help our customers and not yet customers get up to speed is with clear, easily understood information that is easily accessible. To that end we are working very hard to produce those materials and tools and ensure they are available in plenty of time to reduce the unknowns and potential anxieties of the changes. We know change is hard and we want to do everything we can to minimize that for our customers.

Phase 4: New System Launch (June 29, 2020)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the physical distancing recommendations we are launching much more 'softly' than we had hoped.

This is a wonderful culmination of two years worth of intense work by our staff, and incredible involvement of members of our communities, to arrive at what we truly believe is a much better foundation of a public transit system for the region.

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FAQs

Why change the bus service?

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

COAST was also preparing for significant funding challenges coming in the future.

Going forward, we are optimistic about working with our partners and community members to find creative solutions to these challenges. 

What can I do to get involved to support public transit in the region?

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 citizenscount.org to get the contact information for your elected officials. 

Who was involved in the decision-making?

This initial re-design process was 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. The COAST Board of Directors were also heavily engaged through the entire process. 

COAST actively asked for input from the public along every step of this process. We dedicated ourselves to making sure everyone had 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.

What were the Goals of this project?

COAST was 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.

What are the benefits to the new system?

Overall, the new system better meets the needs of the region today, is much more streamlined, and represents a significant reduction in operating costs. 

 

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

 

 

Past Updates and Materials 

Media Coverage

Press Releases

Past Presentations