Effective Thursday, March 26, Mountain Line will reduce its fixed-route and paratransit service hours to 6:45a to 7:15p until further notice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier paratransit service for dialysis patients will continue to begin at 5:45a.
Mountain Line will maintain coverage in all existing service areas; however, frequency will be reduced on routes that now operate more often than every 60 minutes. Scheduling and trip windows for paratransit will remain unchanged.
“All existing areas will continue to receive service, but riders may have to wait up to 45 more minutes for the bus,” said Jennifer Sweten, director of operations at Mountain Line. “Paratransit will be available to our entire service area, for all hours of operation.”
The reduction in service hours is preemptive to reduce the amount of time bus operators are in the public space, while still providing an essential service to our community that benefits us all.
“People depend on us for essential travel,” said Mountain Line General Manager, Corey Aldridge. “We serve healthcare workers and grocery store staff and our riders depend on us to get to the doctor’s office and pick up food. That’s why Mountain Line will continue service as long as we have employees who are able to drive and maintain vehicles.”
For anyone experiencing symptoms, Mountain Line asks they avoid public transportation; however, the agency is working collaboratively with Missoula city-county health officials and emergency responders to provide safe, isolated transit service to those in need.
“We have removed an accessible van from normal service and made it available to Emergency Service for the transport of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or for those who are symptomatic and being taken for testing,” Sweten said. “We are part of a collaborative response effort and will do all we can to support this community.”
Though the agency will reduce its hours starting Thursday, Mountain Line is working diligently to ensure all those who need it have access to service. Mountain Line has developed a multi-level contingency plan to ensure the agency can maintain as much service to the Missoula community for as long as possible. The agency is working quickly to post updated route schedules at bus stops and on its mobile app; however, it may take several days to fully saturate the community with the updated times. For now, please reference the COVID-19 page on our website at www.mountainline.com/covid19 for the most up-to-date information and continue to follow Mountain Line on Facebook and Twitter.