“We expect it to be huge,” Butler said yesterday. “It’s been 10 years in the making.”
The Governor’s Executive Council approved the three-year contract for the service in November 2012. The funding is from the DOT and the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program.
State Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement praised the service.
“East West Express will cut emissions and congestion from commuters and airport travelers,” Clement said in a prepared statement. “It will reduce individuals’ trips and their emissions and fuel use.”
While Flight Line has been transporting people to Logan International and Manchester-Boston Regional airports for more than 25 years, providing east-west service will be a new challenge, Dowd said.
But he’s optimistic his 70-employee company can make the transition. It’s hiring an additional 10 to 15 employees and has purchased six vans for about $85,000 each.
The goal is to begin transporting about 50 passengers a day and to increase that number to 85 by next year and 100 by the third year, Dowd said. Twenty people immediately made reservations when the service was announced Wednesday.
No companies had proposed providing transit service along the largely rural route until a study was completed by the Southern New Hampshire and Rockingham County planning commissions in 2009, Butler said.
“Until a study was done, there was no funding for that service,” he said. “That ramped things up when the CMAC funding became available.”
Thomas Malafronte, assistant airport director at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, said the new service will be beneficial to customers.
“We think it will be a win-win,” he said. “We’re going to do everything we can to help them become successful.”
The stops are at the airport, the Manchester Transportation Center on Canal Street, the Epping Park and Ride on Route 125, and the Portsmouth Transportation Center on Route 33. Reservations can be made at eastwestnh.com or 1-800-245-2525.