Monday, January 10, 2011

The Concord Coach

What fool invented early morning flights and for what reason other than torture, eh? This from a man who spent over 20 years working in the airline industry and knowing full well the value of oh-dark-hundred departures for the sake of early arrivals down line; the better to have the rest of the day ahead of you, right? But OMG, I mean, getting up at least three hours before the flight to be at the airport two hours before the flight to then endure the flight itself just to get to the destination?

Planes, trains and automobiles completely describes the scenario I was faced with the Sunday after Christmas with the substitution being a bus for the train. On this occasion I was traveling to New Hampshire to meet the newest nephew in the family who had arrived barely a month ago just after Thanksgiving. Southwest Airlines flies nonstop between Baltimore and Manchester, New Hampshire but were asking an insane price for the privilege so Boston got the business for $100 less on the airfare. What I didn’t factor in other than the total transit time was the $40 roundtrip that would be required for the bus service between Boston’s Logan International Airport and my final destination of Concord, the state capitol. In hindsight convenient little Manchester might start to see a lot of me but that is for another story.

Boston is a massive transportation center for all of New England, featuring commuter airline service throughout the region, a large network of trains and buses to just about every point with a zip code through Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine. The popular sit-com “Wings” featured the antics of a Cape Cod airline flying to Boston and back, validated today by departure boards featuring Cape Air services to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Provincetown alongside flights on the big boys to Hong Kong, Chicago, Dallas, London and Puerto Rico.

Manchester is THE airport for New Hampshire, to include the capitol region around Concord maybe 25 miles to the north. Concord is one of those state capitols that has no commercial air service at all, like Carson City, Nevada or Salem, Oregon. Other cities in New Hampshire have service but Concord is connected by Manchester’s airport or bus service from the city or nearby Londonderry. As for me, I wasn’t quite sure how the bus would make it from Boston to Concord in just over an hour and a half but it turned out to be nonstop from South Station direct to the bus terminal a few blocks from the state capitol.

Concord Coach was my chariot after hopping up to Boston from Baltimore on AirTran. There was a 9:25AM service direct to the New Hampshire capitol for only $20 after a stop at Boston’s South Station, the major bus depot just above the rail station serving the city. My flight had landed at 7:30AM so I had two bleary-eyed hours to kill until the bus left, by which time I would have been up and at ‘em since 4:30 in the bleedin’ morning!

The bus was clean and comfortable and there was minimal traffic on the roads going north the day after Christmas although Logan was running flat out trying to get those who had to work the next day back home on time. Few people actually head north on purpose in to the teeth of a pending Nor’Easter that would later play havoc with travel all across the Northeastern part of the United States but Concord Coach was unperturbed and did much to help me realize my holiday plans coming and going.

For someone who hasn’t taken a scheduled bus in I can’t remember when, I was perfectly fine with Concord Coach. They’re a highly professional service providing a much needed and appreciated lifeline to points north in New Hampshire. Especially given traffic in and out of Boston, I’ll be using them again.

Gotta go.

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