‘Blue bus’ expanding to better serve region’s residents

The Souhegan Valley Transportation Collaborative (SVTC) is pleased to announce that new features are being added to the Souhegan Valley Rides bus service, or as it is more affectionately known “The Blue Bus.” Rides for shopping will now be available all five days per week. Passengers are encouraged to try shopping on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays when historically there have been fewer rides requested and more availability in the schedule. New this year, pre-registered passengers can call by March 6 to request a ride to town elections on March 13.

In keeping with SVTC’s mission, priority will continue to be given to rides for health care appointments including pharmacy pick-ups. Additionally, priority is given for rides requested by senior citizens and residents living with a disability. Other residents may use the service as space and the daily schedule allow.

Rides to social service agencies, town halls, local libraries, senior activity centers and local shopping destinations will still be available. Local shopping destinations include Market Basket, Lorden Plaza, Granite Town Plaza, 222 Elm St. Plaza, Richmond (Ocean State) Plaza in Milford; Walmart in Amherst; and Hannaford’s on Coliseum Avenue in Nashua. Based on requests from Amherst and Hollis residents, the service will now include the Market Basket at Westside Plaza in Nashua and the Harvest Market in Hollis as preferred local shopping destinations.

“One of our goals has been to maintain some flexibility so that we can respond to passenger and community requests,” said Carol Brooks, SVTC board chairwoman, adding that after considerable work with representatives from Nashua Transit, “We identified some new options and service enhancements that we will try out and re-evaluate over the next six months.”

Responding to passenger and community requests, rides will now be available to most destinations within the six

participating towns and in Nashua. Rides to other shopping destinations, such as Target and the Nashua Mall, will be available depending on the daily schedule. In addition, rides for other purposes, such as going to the bank or barbershop, will be available provided there is room in the daily schedule for these trips. Pre-registered passengers are encouraged to call and request a ride. SVTC works closely with their partners at the Nashua Transit System and together they will make every effort to accommodate requests within the limits of the service’s operating hours and available resources.

Souhegan Valley Rides is a curb-to-curb, dial-a-ride bus service available to residents of Amherst, Brookline, Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon and Wilton.

“The Blue Bus is more than a just a ride service. It is a way for residents, especially older residents and neighbors living with a disability, to be as independent as possible, to accomplish their daily activities, and to remain engaged in their communities,” said Brooks.

The service is available Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-6 p.m., including travel time to and from the garage in Nashua. The first morning trip to Nashua will arrive no earlier that 10 a.m. and the last pick-ups to return home will leave Nashua no later than 4 p.m. Passengers should schedule their appointments and plans around these times. Riders are asked to pay $2 each way. A free bus pass program, solely funded by donations, is available for eligible residents who cannot afford the bus fare.

Pre-registration is required and applications are available by calling 880-0100, Ext. 1 and on SVTC’s website at www.SouheganValleyRides.org. Rides must be scheduled at least two business days in advance. When a scheduled ride is no longer needed, passengers are expected to call and cancel their ride, preferably, at least the day before the scheduled ride. The sooner scheduling changes can be made, the more efficient the service is for all passengers.

The wheelchair-accessible buses, drivers and call center operations are contracted from the Nashua Transit System. The Souhegan Valley Transportation Collaborative, a volunteer organization of representatives from the six participating towns, implemented and oversees Souhegan Valley Rides bus service.

– Submitted by SVTC