Portsmouth Announces New Senior Transportation Program; COAST seeks volunteer drivers

June 12, 2018

The City of Portsmouth is excited to announce that the Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) will be managing and operating the Senior Transportation Program as of October 1, 2018. Portsmouth Senior Services and COAST have been working hand in hand to ensure a smooth transition.

Leading up to this transition, Wentworth Senior Living has successfully provided transportation for Portsmouth seniors to medical appointments, senior activities and volunteer positions, and in-town shopping for over a decade. This partnership demonstrated the great need for this service and provided the City with necessary foundation to expand the program.

“Wentworth Senior Living has been proud to have been able to provide the much-needed transportation services to the City’s seniors over the past ten years. Our partnership with the City, with the direct support of John Bohenko, is an example of how the public and private sectors can work together for the benefit of everyone. Our drivers are going to miss their daily interactions with all of the riders and would want me to wish them all the best,” expressed Bill Henson, Wentworth Senior Living’s President and CEO.

COAST has been the City’s transportation provider for fixed route public transit and advanced-reservation ADA transport for over 35 years, as well as the City’s seasonal Parking Shuttle service over the past few years. As a transportation provider, COAST can offer comprehensive transportation solutions to meet the growing needs of the Portsmouth community.

“We are honored and excited to expand our growing operating relationship with the City of Portsmouth, particularly around senior transportation. We understand the critical importance of these types of services to seniors through our work and networks across the Greater Seacoast and State,” conveyed Rad Nichols, COAST’s Executive Director.

The new Senior Transportation Program will offer a diversified option of transportation services including public transit, ADA paratransit, curb-to-curb advanced reservation services, shopping shuttles, and a volunteer driver program. Residents will be able to use these services to take rides to/from destinations in Portsmouth for shopping trips, going to the library and senior activity center, medical appointments, and even trips outside of Portsmouth (within a five mile radius of the city line).

COAST has a dedicated team of staff that can help advise riders of their various travel options and schedule trips on the service that can best meet their needs. Customers will simply contact COAST's regional transportation call center, TripLink, to get information and schedule a trip.

The hours of operation for the Senior Transportation Program will increase under COAST’s management to five days per week, Monday to Friday, and 12 hours per day, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Fares for the different services will vary based on the type and level of service provided. There will be a variety of options available to pay the fare to ride, from paying cash with exact change when boarding, to punch tickets that may be purchased in advance. Rides to medical appointments, provided by volunteer drivers, will be free.

According to Senior Services Supervisor Brinn Sullivan, this expanded service will help accommodate the diversity of the City’s senior community. “Our Senior Services and Transportation Departments want to meet the growing needs of older people in our community, a definition that continues to grow to include those still in the workforce, that have various appointments, activities and more. We are grateful to Wentworth Senior Living for their years of support and look forward to this next chapter with COAST.”

In preparation for the transition, Portsmouth Senior Services and COAST are currently recruiting volunteers for the volunteer driver program. Volunteer drivers use their own vehicles to bring seniors directly to their medical appointments at no charge to the riders. This will be a new service for Portsmouth but is already being offered in other towns on the Seacoast by the non-profit organizations Ready Rides and Transportation Assistance for Seacoast Citizens (TASC). COAST will perform background checks on all drivers, make sure they have adequate insurance, and will reimburse drivers at $0.35 per mile to cover the cost of their gas.  Anyone interested in volunteering should call COAST at 603-834-6010 or email volunteers@coastbus.org.

As the summer progresses, Portsmouth Senior Services and COAST will host multiple opportunities to learn more about the October 1, 2018 transition of the operation of the Portsmouth Senior Transportation Program.

Information Sessions:

  • Thursday, June 28, 12:00-1:00pm at Community Campus
  • Thursday, July 26, 12:00-1:00pm at Community Campus
  • Monday, August 13, 5:00-6:00pm at the Portsmouth Library
  • Thursday, August 23 12:00-1:00pm at Community Campus
  • Wednesday, Sept 19, 5:00-6:00pm at the Portsmouth Library
  • Additional information sessions at Portsmouth Housing Authority, & other sites to be announced

The Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) has provided public transit service to the Seacoast New Hampshire region since 1982. COAST is a public, non-profit transit system that relies primarily on federal and local government support to operate. COAST is governed by a board of directors representing the communities served, two regional planning commissions, and many local and state agencies.

For more information on the transition of the Portsmouth Senior Transportation Program, please reach out to TripLink at 603.834.6010 or triplink@communityrides.org, or the Portsmouth Senior Activity Center at 603.610.4433 or bsullivan@cityofportsmouth.com.