On a cold December morning in 1977, four tiny Mountain Line buses took to the streets of Missoula for the first time with a simple but important mission: provide accessible, affordable, safe, and environmentally-friendly transportation to all. Since that day, Missoula, its transit network, and the size of the buses have all grown, but Mountain Line’s core mission remains the same. The agency will kick-off a year-long celebration of their 40th anniversary this Friday, January 12, 6pm-9pm at the Top Hat Lounge by sponsoring the popular Family Friendly Friday event.
“At Mountain Line we believe that public transportation benefits us all in Missoula,” said Amy Cilimburg, new Board Chair of the Missoula Urban Transportation District (MUTD) that operates Mountain Line. “Whether it’s getting you to work or to school, helping seniors and people with disabilities stay independent, improving our air quality, reducing congestion, or making Missoula a more affordable place to live, these benefits have been part of our story for 40 years now and we hope to provide them for many years to come.”
Mountain Line originally launched with just four mini-buses on four routes. From those humble beginnings, Mountain Line has grown to over 30 vehicles, 12 fixed routes, a robust Paratransit service, and more than 60 employees. High frequency BOLT! Service and the popular Zero-fare program instituted in 2015 helped increase local transit ridership 70 percent at a time when growth in other cities across the country is declining or stagnant.
“Thank you to our current Zero-fare partners for making this recent growth possible,” said Cilimburg. “We also owe a big thank you to all of our many riders over the years, and most importantly to our amazing group of bus operators and maintenance staff, who work hard every day to keep Missoula moving forward.”
Mountain Line plans to announce several new Zero-fare partner businesses at Family Friendly Friday and attendees will enjoy live music, free birthday cupcakes, and some Mountain Line party favors for big kids and little kids alike. Businesses or organizations interested in joining the Zero-fare coalition are encouraged to visit http://www.mountainline.com/zero-fare/ for more information.