‘The wheels on the bus …’

You probably know at least the first couple lines of this popular children’s song, so we won’t bother to finish it.

June 17-21 served as Ride Transit Week in the city of Nashua, as the Nashua Transit System celebrated its 10 millionth rider.

“We have been running the bus service here since 1984, and serving many people across the community,” Mayor Jim Donchess told our reporter.

Transit officials said they now transport about 460,000 riders annually. Recently, NTS has expanded its service to transport riders all the way to Walmart in Amherst. Officials also reconfigured a downtown route to serve BAE Systems and the surrounding neighborhood in a more effective way.

Donchess also said the city is trying to make the system cleaner, by introducing some buses that use compressed natural gas instead of diesel fuel or gasoline. This fall, two electric-hybrid buses will join the NTS fleet, featuring drive trains manufactured by BAE Systems.

“What we want is people to be able to live in Nashua who either don’t want to have a car, or don’t have one yet, who can work and live in our community,” Donchess added.

Indeed, many young urbanites simply do not want the expense or bother of a vehicle, even if they can afford one. A viable bus system is certainly part of attracting new people to live in the city, a goal Donchess repeatedly emphasizes.

The bus system has mass appeal, however. Older folks who do not drive, but need to get to the grocery store or the pharmacy, have something to meet their needs, while college students can avoid the extra cost of an automobile by using public transit.

The system seems quite affordable, as well. According to the city’s website, a monthly pass for those ages 19-59 is only $40, while it is just $30 for those older or younger than this age range.

Buying even a used vehicle will cost far more than this on a monthly basis … and that is without accounting for the costs of insurance, vehicle maintenance and fuel.

The only obvious drawbacks to relying exclusively on the bus system are that one is restricted to its hours of operation, and if one plans on traveling outside the system’s range on any kind of a regular basis.

Nevertheless, the Gate City is fortunate to offer such a robust, economical and environmentally friendly public transit system. As Nashua continues to grow, we are sure the transit system will, as well.