Public transportation is a pathway to opportunity for many—employment, education, health care and more. Now these opportunities will include bringing people closer to nature and outdoor recreation. Manchester Transit Authority, together with The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire, today announced the launch of Transit to Trails, a pilot program providing transportation to walking and hiking trails, state parks and water destinations to Manchester residents utilizing the city bus service for $5: the price of a bus ticket.
“The Granite State has so many incredible outdoor resources, but too often they are only accessible to people fortunate enough to own a car,” said Manchester Alderman Will Stewart, who first brought the idea to Manchester Transit Authority after hearing of a similar pilot launching in Seattle, Washington. “This innovative partnership will help reduce this transportation barrier and increase Manchester residents’ access to some of southern New Hampshire’s premier natural areas.”
Transit to Trails is a seasonal service that will operate on the first Saturday of each month beginning May 7th through September 3rd of this year. Riders can purchase an excursion pass at Veteran’s Park the day of the event, board the bus and be transported to outdoor spaces within 30 minutes of the heart of the city. This year’s destinations include a mix of nature centers and New Hampshire State Parks and builds upon the MTA’s popular Summer Escapes seasonal route to Hampton Beach, which provides residents access to the ocean during the summer months.
Manchester Transit Authority is a partner in Transit to Trails.
“MTA is excited to partner with The Nature Conservancy in order to bring this pilot program to life,” said Mike Whitten, executive director of the Manchester Transit Authority. “Connecting passengers with natural spaces like our state parks and forests offers so many benefits and we’re thrilled to do our part to eliminate transportation as a barrier to access for members of our community.”
Transit to Trails also furthers The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire’s commitment to breaking down barriers to nature and ensuring that the outdoors is truly accessible to all. The program’s launch comes on the heels of the grand opening on Earth Day of their All Persons Trail at Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve, a universally accessible trail located in the Hackett Hill area of the city. The trail—suitable for users of all ages and abilities, including those using wheelchairs and pushing strollers—can be visited using public transportation via MTA’s Route 11 bus line.
The Nature Conservancy is a partner in Transit to Trails.
“So many of us who live in this state love the great diversity of experiences that the New Hampshire landscape provides. By providing access to nature both within the City of Manchester and to nearby destinations via Transit to Trails, we hope more folks in New Hampshire will explore the outdoors, get to know the state’s mountains, beaches, woods and streams and feel connected to the beautiful nature that surrounds us,” said Joanne Glode, southern New Hampshire stewardship ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire and project manager for the Cedar Swamp All Persons Trail project.
“Not everyone has the ability to reach hiking trails and enjoy the outdoors. We applaud the Transit to Trails effort and look forward to people of color taking advantage of it to enjoy what nature has to offer,” said James McKim, president of the NAACP of Greater Manchester.
Massabesic Audubon Center will be the first Transit to Trails destination.
New Hampshire Audubon’s Massabesic Center in Auburn will be the program’s first destination this Saturday, May 7th. Located on a historic farm site, visitors will enjoy 5 miles of easy-going hiking and walking trails, beautiful views of Lake Massabesic, and access to the center including an animal room with live snakes, turtles and frogs, an Art Exhibit room, gift shop and restroom facilities.
“New Hampshire Audubon is thrilled that Massabesic Center has been chosen as a site for Transit to Trails!” says Kimmie Whiteman, director of Massabesic Center. “Massabesic Center is located so close to Manchester, yet many city residents have no way to get to our Center or events. I hope this program is wildly successful and that we can become a regular destination for Manchester buses. Everyone should have access to hiking trails, gardens and a place to learn about our environment. We’re so pleased to be perfectly positioned for this partnership.”
Additional Transit to Trails locations this summer include a state park TBA on June 4, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Elm Brook Park on July 2, a state park TBA on August 6, and Fox State Forest on September 3. On those mornings, riders can purchase excursion passes for $5 each (cash or credit) at Veteran’s Park beginning at 8:30am. Riders should note that some locations have entry fees, which are not included in the bus fare. Buses will depart the park at 9:00am, 11:00am and 1:00pm. Buses returning to Veteran’s Park will depart at 12:00pm, 2:00pm and 4:00pm.
For more information on the Transit to Trails program and upcoming destinations, visit www.mtabus.org. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to connect people and nature, visit www.nature.org/newhampshire.
The Nature Conservancy works in New Hampshire and around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science and using a collaborative approach that is grounded in the needs of our state and local communities, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. In New Hampshire, the Conservancy has helped protect nearly 300,000 acres of forests, fields and natural areas, along with 680 miles of coastal shoreline and river frontage. To learn more, visit www.nature.org/newhampshire or follow us: @tncnewhampshire on Instagram, TNCNH on Facebook, and @Nature_NH on Twitter.