Success Stories

MOUNTAIN LINE BENEFITS THE MISSOULA COMMUNITY

In January 2015, Mountain Line began a three-year Zero-Fare demonstration project, funded by key community and local government partners. Bus rides that previously cost $1 per trip, were now free to all riders. At the same time, the agency implemented Phase II of their long-range plan, adding new levels of bus service—Late Evening Service on four core routes, as well as a second high-frequency “Bolt” route—made possible by the 2013 voter-approved mill levy.

OUTSTANDING RESULTS

Zero-Fare and Phase II service increases have been a resounding success. By the end of 2016 (the second year of the Zero-Fare demonstration program), ridership had already increased by 50 percent—surpassing the three-year target goal a year ahead of schedule. According to a recent on-board rider survey, half of bus riders started riding in the last two years, and 48 percent reported riding the bus more frequently since the Zero-Fare program began. An added benefit of Zero-Fare is increased efficiency due to the lack of an on-board fare collection system: routes run more quickly, helping students and employees get to school and work on time, and administrative costs are reduced, making better use of transit dollars.

THE FUTURE OF ZERO-FARE

There is no doubting the success of the Zero-Fare program, however, this three-year demonstration program expires at the end of 2017. In order to keep this successful program running, our bus system needs to retain all current program partners, while also recruiting new partners from the community, and increasing the overall funding commitment for Zero-Fare Mountain Line.