History and Ridership

The Missoula Urban Transportation District (MUTD) was established by voters in June of 1976. The vote established taxing authority for the creation of the district and passed by a margin of 2 to 1. The resulting service, known as Mountain Line, began operating in December 1977.

Since that time, Mountain Line has provided almost 25 million passenger trips. Missoulians took a record 1,074,622 trips on Mountain Line (fixed route and Paratransit combined) during fiscal year 2015, a 19% increase over the previous fiscal year.  In fiscal year 2016, Mountain Line continues to break ridership records, with our busiest summer ever.

View a timeline of Mountain Line’s history »

ML Ridership Graph 1978-2015

ML Monthly Ridership 2011-2015

2015 - Zero-fare/Phase II933,694
2012 - Phase I897,888

Services Mountain Line Provides

Currently Mountain Line operates within a 36 square mile area, serving Missoula, East Missoula, Bonner, Target Range, Rattlesnake and Mullan Road. Mountain Line provides the following services:

  • Fixed Routes: Weekday service is provided on twelve fixed routes. During the peak hour Mountain Line provides buses every 30-minutes and off-peak every 60-minutes. Saturday service is provided on ten routes. An additional bus serves the downtown during the Farmers Market season. Buses generally operate between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
  • Paratransit Services: Since 1991, Mountain Line has been providing curb to curb transportation for passengers eligible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • The Senior Van: In July 2008, Mountain Line began a new Senior Van service for those not eligible for Paratransit under ADA, and enhanced service such as door to door and package assistance.
  • Vanpool:  Through a service contract with the Missoula Ravalli Transportation Management Association (MRTMA) Mountain Line provides important vanpool service within the Transportation District.
  • Special Services: Mountain Line provides seasonal special event transportation to popular community events such as the Western Montana Fair, Out to Lunch, and the Farmer’s Market.

Public Transit: Important to Missoula

Recent changes in the economy, including fluctuating gas prices, have placed pressure on Mountain Line to expand its service. Existing routes are seeing more riders and residents are requesting more hours of service and service to new areas. Community members and officials alike recognize the need to address issues resulting from population growth and high gas prices.

In addition to the economic issues of high gas prices, there are other reasons to support transit such as air quality. The number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) affects the health and safety of community members. VMT impacts air quality, road maintenance, traffic accidents, congestion, and parking.

Citizens see the need for transit and are requesting new investment in transit. At the Envision Missoula Summit meetings in February 2008, over 70% of participants voted to “Spend more money on public transportation even if it means less money for roadways”. Transit in Missoula is already popular and enjoys a 6.5% mode share (Bureau of Business and Economic and Economic Research, 2008 Missoula Long Range Transportation Plan Survey) considerably higher than the national average.

Missoula Urban Transportation District Vision for the Future

The Missoula Urban Transportation District and Mountain Line are essential components of Missoula’s integrated, multi-modal transportation system. We are committed to the community goal of reducing vehicle miles traveled in Missoula. We believe that our community can meet this goal by:

  • Significantly increasing the use of transit.
  • Improving transportation options, thus reducing single occupancy vehicle dependence.
  • Creating strong incentives for using modes of transportation that reduce traffic congestion and improve community health.
  • Building a network of partnerships dedicated to reducing vehicle miles traveled.

The Missoula Urban Transportation District envisions Mountain Line as a safe, pleasant, productive, efficient and satisfying environment for the employees of Mountain Line. MUTD promotes working relationships that are characterized by common respect, shared responsibilities and involvement, open, honest, communication and acceptance of the benefit of each other and Mountain Line.