With record numbers of commuters turning to zero-fare public transit, Mountain Line, the city’s community bus service, plans on sending a special thank you to the people and organizations that made the zero-fare service possible. Mountain Line’s three-year Zero-fare demonstration project began one year ago today, on January 5, 2015, with the financial support of 14 local organizations and businesses, and the agency is encouraging riders to “share the love” with the Zero-fare community partners.
“We know that overall, increased bus ridership benefits our entire community by reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality. It means students getting to class, employees to and from work, and seniors and people with disabilities staying active and mobile.” said Corey Aldridge, General Manager. “We want to hear stories from riders and non-riders alike. How has Zero-fare improved our community?”
Mountain Line provided more than 1.25 million annual rides in 2015, shattering its calendar year record by more than 350,000 trips. The agency also broke 2015 monthly records, and surpassed 100,000 rides every month but January and August. October set a new all-time, one-month bus ridership record with 118,447 rides. Ridership increased more than 38 percent from 2014 due to the Zero-fare program. While these statistics may be impressive on their own, Aldridge believes they don’t tell the whole story.
“There are many individual lives behind these big numbers. There’s a student out there saving money on gas and parking, a friend at work getting healthier by riding the bus more than ever, a senior making it to crucial doctor appointments or maybe just staying active and social with her friends,” said Aldridge. “We really want our partners to know the difference they’re making in our community, so we’re asking folks to share their stories.”
Mountain Line will be collecting “Thank You Zero-fare” messages over the next three weeks from riders and community members through a special page on the Mountain Line web site and on social media. Comments will be collected and presented to Zero-fare partner representatives later this month.
“Our partners came together to provide this service to our community. Now we’d like to give them a little something in return,” Aldridge added.
Mountain Line’s Zero-fare partners include the University of Montana, Associated Students of the University of Montana, City of Missoula, County of Missoula, the Missoula Metropolitan Planning Organization, St. Patrick Hospital, Community Medical Center, Missoula County Public Schools, Missoula Aging Services, Missoula Downtown Association, Missoula Parking Commission, the Missoulian, Southgate Mall, and Homeword. To leave a “Thank You Zero-fare” message for Mountain Line’s funding partners, visit Mountain Line’s Facebook page or http://www.mountainline.com/give-thanks/.