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Missoula Measures - Riding the Bus


Why this topic?

Missoula’s population and the number of vehicle miles traveled is increasing. The desire to improve air quality is growing. More people using the bus is one simple answer to these and similar problems. But increasing bus ridership requires a combination of actions. A successful plan to move travelers onto public transportation would involve such actions as increasing bus services, encouraging mixed land use, leveling the playing field between parking and transit by eliminating free parking and putting a ceiling on parking requirements, and revising tax laws to provide incentives for employers and employees to buy transit passes.

How are we doing?

Following a drop in riders from 1992 to 1993 due to federal operating assistance cuts, ridership has increased from 2% to 10% each year.  Ridership should at least keep pace with our population growth.  Increases in gasoline prices has an affect on ridership as well.  


graph bus ridership 1980-2010

Source: Mountain Line

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Related Data

Mountain Line

Missoula's public bus service is Mountain Line. Their service area extends beyond the city limits to include an area of about 75,000 people in the Missoula urban area. Although outlying areas have grown considerably in recent years, Mountain Line has not been able to expand its service area due to the constraints of state law regarding expansion of Urban Transportation Districts. Bus fares range from $1.00 for a standard trip to 35 cents for a youth (18 and under) trip. Check out Mountain Line for information regarding fares, schedules, etc.

Bus Economics

A year's worth of 1-month passes would cost about $372. The estimated annual car ownership costs (car payments, insurance, registration, taxes, license, depreciation, and finance charges — not including operating costs such as gas, oil changes, repairs, and new tires) are between $4365 and $5782. When you add the cost of fuel, riding the bus can save you money.  Mountain Line

Promoting Bus Ridership

Mountain Line has a free shuttle that operates during summer, on Saturdays to and from the local Farmers Market, and on Wednesdays for Out To Lunch.

Mountain Line is also offering "Bolt" service, with a bus running every 15 minutes. As of 2014, this service is only available on Route 1.

Mountain Line also offers senior van service.

Cleaner Air, Less Gas Consumption

Buses produce significantly less air pollution to move one passenger one mile ( a passenger mile) compared to moving a person one mile in a single-occupant vehicle. Buses emit only 20% as much carbon monoxide, 10% as many hydrocarbons, and 75% of nitrogen oxides per passenger mile as a car. And, according to Department of Energy data, transit uses 8.7% less energy per passenger mile than a typical car. (Mountain Line)


Related Websites

Missoula's Mountain Line Bus

Federal Transit Administration

American Public Transit Administration


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