Member Profile

Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation

The Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation has been a staple of Greater Seacoast NH’s transportation landscape for 38 years, delivering its first passengers to their destinations in 1982. For the most part, the organization has been rolling buses out onto the streets without much fanfare and quietly going about the business of supporting the lives of Greater Seacoast families and the economic vitality of the region. The mission, rewritten in 2016, is to champion and provide customer-focused public transportation with a commitment to excellence in safety and service.

Over the last 38 years, the organization has grown from an employer of one (1) to now employing approximately 75 staff. As a medium sized organization, COAST provides high quality, rewarding areers with competitive pay and benefits upon which staff can support their families.

As a public transportation provider for the region COAST directly provides fixed route and demand response paratransit services to 13 communities in NH and ME. Additionally, it supports demand response services throughout many other communities in Strafford and eastern Rockingham counties. Over the years COAST bus operators have said “good morning, afternoon or evening” over 15.2M times as passengers have boarded the buses to get to their destinations. The top reasons riders use COAST is for commuting to work, educational opportunities and to access local commerce. In many cases, they are their passengers only transportation option and, without COAST, they would not be able to hold a job or obtain an education. COAST is very proud to receive feedback that 90% of their passengers say that they would recommend COAST to their family members, friends and colleagues.

Through their history COAST has persevered to develop a robust set of public transit services that are safe, affordable, and highly valued by the Greater Seacoast. To hear passengers talking and laughing as the bus leaves downtown Portsmouth on their way home in the late afternoon, reminds staff that the service they provide truly represent a “rolling neighborhood” of the Seacoast region.

2020 has been quite a year! 

At the end of March COAST was forced to cease all fixed route bus operations, for an extended period, for the first time in the organization's history. It had simply become unsafe to continue providing services without the needed PPE that operators and passengers could not obtain at the time. On May 11, COAST began the first of a three phase return to full service that was enabled by staff's eagerness to return to work, the necessary PPE being in place, and a lower prevalence of COVID-19 cases in the service area. Throughout the pandemic COAST maintained demand response services for older adults and individuals with disabilities.

At the end of June, after nearly two full years of extensive public outreach and inclusive planning, COAST launched a new fixed route public transit system for the Greater Seacoast. It was a much softer launch than planned due to the pandemic, however it went incredibly smoothly due to the dedication of staff to pull the massive project off in the midst of the pandemic. Cornerstone features of the new system offer the following benefits:

•     Created separate local routes from routes making regional connections

•     Significantly reduced travel times for many of the longest trips (by more than 50%)

•     Improved timely connections between routes, making regional travel easier

•     Provides hourly frequencies on most routes

•     Uses clockface schedules (bus coming to the same stop, at the same time after the hour, every hour) on most routes

•     Significantly enhanced Saturday service levels

•     Extended service coverage to identified areas

•     Maintained the daily span of service to the maximum extent practicable

•     Provides greater flexibility to operate routes only when sufficient demand exists

•     Makes better use of downtime and bus movements to maximize revenue service

•     Represents an overall cost reduction to operate

COAST’s vision is to be an innovative leader in providing a broad range of public transportation services, connecting, and coordinating a robust network of transportation options for everyone.

For more information on COAST, please visit www.coastbus.org.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 25, 2020

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