MANCHESTER, N.H. — Local residents will soon have a new, low-cost way to get to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
Beginning July 1, a Salem, N.H., company will begin offering $19 one-way trips from park-and-ride lots in Methuen and Andover.
Flight Line Inc. is taking over a free shuttle service that had been run by the Manchester airport for travelers headed to the airport from Woburn and Charlestown. The airport launched the free shuttle more than a year ago to demonstrate to private companies that there was a demand for regularly scheduled bus or van service between the airport and the North of Boston region.
The program has proven successful, as the Manchester shuttle now carries between 500 and 800 passengers each week, according to airport officials.
"The goal of this pilot program was to stimulate demand and to entice a private ground transportation company to take a harder look at offering these services at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport," Airport Director Mark Brewer said. "We are fortunate that Flight Line Inc. has committed to increase service at the airport, which will greatly enhance affordable" transportation for people living in Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.
Jamie Dowd, who co-owns the family-owned Flight Line with his father, James Dowd, said that in the process of taking over the Manchester shuttle from Woburn and Charlestown, the company will add trips to Manchester from the Pelham Street park-and-ride lot in Methuen and the Dascomb Road lot in Andover.
The company already takes customers from those locations to Logan for $29 each way. The trip to Manchester will cost $19 one way.
Dowd also plans to increase the frequency of the shuttle trips from once every two hours to hourly.
"We're trying to offer our customers a menu of options," he said.
The company already offers a home pick-up van service from the Merrimack Valley to Manchester as well as Logan. It costs $59 each way. Dowd said once his company takes over the airport's shuttle service, it will be also able to offer the lower-cost alternative to people who don't mind getting picked up or dropped off at the park-and-ride lots.
Assistant Airport Director Thomas Malafronte said the airport, which is a self-funded division of the city of Manchester, intended the pilot shuttle program to run about six months. "But it was so successful we extended it to 18 months," he said.
The service is set to expire June 30, and the 22-person buses making the trips south will become part of the fleet of vehicles used to carry travelers from the airport's outlying parking lots.
"We're effectively phasing it out," he said. "Flight Line is stepping in and assuming this. They're doing it on their own dime."
Dowd said he may expand the service to the Seacoast as well as other points farther south around Boston as the company continues to grow.
Flight Line has nearly 100 employees, including drivers, office help and three mechanics working on its fleet of vans.
For more information, see flightlineinc.com.