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 on December 12, 1977.

Since that time, Mountain Line has provided nearly 30 million passenger trips. Missoulians took a record 1,573,979 trips on Mountain Line’s fixed route service in 2017 alone, a 70 percent increase from 2014 levels, in part due to Mountain Line’s Phase II service enhancements and the popular Zero-fare program. In 2018, Mountain Line maintained the high ridership gains of the past several years with 1,573,615 rides provided.

View a timeline of Mountain Line’s history »




2015 - Zero-fare/Phase II1,382,050
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, and Rattlesnake. Mountain Line provides the following services:

  • Fixed Route Bus Service: Weekday bus service is provided on twelve fixed routes. During peak weekday hours Mountain Line provides high frequency 15-minute service on two Bolt! routes, with 30-minute and 60-minute frequency on most other routes. Saturday service is provided on ten routes. Mountain Line’s Trolley serves Downtown for the Farmers Market season and Out to Lunch in Caras Park. Buses generally operate between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 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 complementary Senior Van service for those not eligible for Paratransit under ADA, and enhanced service such as door to door and package assistance.
  • 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 Benefits Us All

Public transit benefits us all in 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 increased frequency. Community members and officials alike recognize the need to address issues resulting from population growth, high fuel prices, affordability, and poor air quality.

For every person that chooses to use transit instead of driving alone, the entire community benefits. 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.