After considering the very limited feedback received on the select service changes and fare increases proposed in early July to offset strained municipal budgets and increasing operating costs, the COAST Board of Directors voted to approve the proposed changes at their August meeting.
The approved service changes will be limited to the “Dover FastTrans” Routes 33 and 34-35. Fare increases are proposed to be limited to Dover FastTrans route 33 and the Portsmouth-Pease trolley routes 40 and 41.
Rad Nichols, COAST’s executive director, commented, “the very limited public comment received on the proposed changes seems to indicate an understanding that COAST had to make changes and that the proposed increases in fares on these select routes was preferred over service cuts.” Nichols continued, “we are acutely aware however, that this creates a very challenging transportation scenario for those limited few who used the services being cut.”
Approved Service Changes
Due to a very tight municipal budget in the city of Dover, COAST has been forced to take action and reduce service operated on the FastTrans network of routes.
The route 34-35 FastTrans Commuter Connector will be eliminated entirely.
Additionally, four trips on Route 33 will be suspended. Route 33 connects downtown Dover with the business parks on Sixth Street and the Strafford County Complex. The trips slated for elimination on Route 33, which has operated hourly from 6:30am to 7:00pm since its creation in 2008, experience the lowest average ridership. The eliminated runs are the 11:05 a.m., 12:05p.m., 5:30p.m., and 6:35 p.m.
These reductions in service are necessary in order for COAST to operate within the budget available for FastTrans. FastTrans is supported financially by rider fares, local subsidies from project partners, and Federal Transit Administration funding. The service has been a successful partnership between COAST, the city of Dover, and Strafford County. To ensure the majority of the Route 33 service would remain in operation, the Dover Housing Authority has stepped in to provide additional financial support.
Approved Fare Increases
In order to better support operating expenses on both Route 33 and the Portsmouth-Pease trolley routes 40 and 41, the COAST Board adopted a new base cash fare of $1.50 on these routes. The base fare for all COAST routes is now the same system wide. No other routes will experience a fare increase at this time.
The fares on FastTrans and the Trolleys have been handled differently from other routes in the past because those routes were funded directly by the project partners, independent of the regional COAST routes 1, 2, 6 and 7. In the past the project partners sponsoring these routes were able to subsidize the operation of these routes at a level that made it possible to charge a lower fare.
The increase in the base cash fare for Route 33 will also include the elimination of the 50-cent surcharge on that route for any on-call stops.
COAST tickets, multi-ride punch cards and monthly passes will remain at their current rates as their face value is set based on COAST’s base cash fare of $1.50.
Service changes on Routes 33 & 34-35 and the new base cash fare to board Routes 33, 40 and 41 will take effect on Monday, Sept. 30.