by Carl Oscar Olson
In spite of it’s relatively small size, Nantucket can still be a challenge to traverse. Fortunately, for residents and visitors of our small island, Nantucket Regional Transit Authority is here to help us all on our way.
NRTA got their start back in 1993, and two years later in 1995 their buses began rolling 30 miles out to sea. During the first year, the service was known as “The Shuttle.” Four buses carried passengers around Nantucket from June 1 through Labor Day.
Paula Leary has been the organization’s administrator since the beginning. “The first year was so successful that the community wanted more service,” she recalls. “Additional routes were added through the next few years: Madaket, ‘Sconset, Surfside and Jetties Beaches, then additional routes servicing ‘Sconset from different areas along Milestone Road and Polpis Road.” The busses quickly became an essential part of island life, and the routes have continued to grow and adapt to this day.
This past spring, NRTA reached another milestone in their 23-year history by providing the island with service almost every day of the year. “The biggest change is in the hours of operation, which will be from 7am to 9pm during the week and 7am to 7pm on weekends,” explained Paula. “Service will not run Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day, but there will be longer hours of service on Stroll weekend and New Years Eve.”
There will also be a few changes to the routes during the off-season. “The ‘Sconset via Old South Road Route is different in the winter, primarily servicing the Old South Road/Nobadeer Farm Road corridor, with several trips to ‘Sconset throughout the day,” says Paula. “Not only to provide service to ‘Sconset, but we heard a lot from residents in Tom Nevers, especially those with kids who wanted the service.”
On top of extended hours and extra service, Paula and her team at NRTA are providing a few more perks that will increase safety and comfort for riders. “There will be an additional two shelters constructed at our more popular stops, the corner of Dave Street and Pleasant Street and at the Landmark House stop on Orange Street. These, like the shelter at Tom Nevers, will be solar powered for lighting.”
There were a few bumps on the road to extended service. “The biggest challenge in providing yearround service was funding” adds Paula. “The Advisory Board increased the fares and pass rates, and the Board of Selectmen opted to fund the remaining cost of service through the NRTA’s local assessment funding source.” All in all, these are small prices to pay for the reliable service provided.
Join The Wave and NRTA to celebrate extended service and kick off the year-round bussing on Nantucket Friday, September 28 at a party in The Greenhound Building, Washington Street. The fun starts at 10am. There will be speakers and contests to win annual service passes, giveaways, and other prizes. The celebration is open to the public.
Full bus schedules are available at nrtawave.com and at The Greenhound bus station on Washington Street. Or better yet, get even more accurate information on your phone: “We encourage everyone to visit nrta.transloc.com and register for the Where’s My Bus app,” says Paula. “This app will give you access to real-time information about bus locations throughout the winter and all year long.”