MISSOULA – Mountain Line will host a kickoff ceremony to launch its citywide Bus Stop Improvement Project Tuesday, July 14, at 10:30 a.m. The Bus Stop Improvement Project will impact every stop along Mountain Line’s 12 fixed routes and is focused on three objectives: improve safety, increase accessibility and maximize efficiency.
Riders can expect to see improvements ranging from updated signage at all stops, to new bus stop shelters, benches and trash receptacles at the mostly highly used locations. Some bus stops will also be consolidated for efficiency or moved to a safer access point nearby.
“This kickoff ceremony signifies the culmination of years of research, planning and public engagement for one of the largest projects our agency has ever undertaken,” said Vince Caristo, Mountain Line planning and projects manager. “This project will make our bus stops even safer and more accessible, while also increasing route efficiency. These improvements will benefit everyone.”
Today, many bus stops in Missoula are located upstream of a pedestrian crosswalk or trail crossing, which often causes a bus to obscure the visibility of people using the crossing. To improve safety for riders, several bus stops will be relocated to the far-side of intersections to reduce vehicle-pedestrian conflicts and improve safety for all road users.
Other stops will be moved to locations where on-street parking is prohibited and where it is feasible to install a level landing area to improve the overall accessibility of the transit system for all riders. A smooth and level surface of sufficient width and depth is needed to safely load and unload passengers who use a wheelchair or have other mobility impairments.
Finally, in addition to moving several stops, Mountain Line will also consolidate under-utilized stops to help keep buses running on time. This consolidation helps minimize impacts to on-street parking, while allowing Mountain Line to better leverage amenity investments to reach more people. This part of the improvement project is in response to growing ridership, pre-COVID-19, attributed in large part to the agency’s successful Zero-Fare program launched in 2015.
All moved or consolidated stops will be within a quarter mile, or roughly a five-minute walk, from another bus stop, ensuring service is still easily accessible to all riders within Mountain Line’s existing service area.
The project will be carried out in two phases of construction, both funded by a federal Bus and Bus Facilities grant awarded to Mountain Line in 2018. Phase One construction will begin the week of July 13 and will impact stops on Mountain Line’s BOLT! Routes 1 and 2.
Phase Two construction is set begin later this fall and will impact bus stops on all remaining routes. The Bus Stop Improvement Project is expected to be completed by the spring of 2021.
The Bus Stop Improvement Project, by the numbers, will:
“This improvement project is like a remodel of our entire system,” said Caristo. “The construction process will require some patience and flexibility from the community, but by the same token, everyone — riders, pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers — will benefit from the finished product.”
Riders are encouraged to actively monitor Mountain Line’s website and social media channels for Rider Alerts about the project and can review all upcoming bus stop improvements using an interactive map on Mountain Line’s website at www.mountainline.com/bus-stop-improvements.
The project kickoff ceremony this Tuesday will include comments from MUTD Board Member and Homeword Executive Director, Andrea Davis, Mountain Line General Manager, Corey Aldridge, RN Sustainability Program Manager with Providence St. Patrick Hospital, Sarah Johnson, and City Council Ward 6 Representative, Julie Merritt. The public is encouraged to virtually attend the event by tuning into the live stream on the agency’s Facebook page.
A reminder that all COVID-19 precautions remain in place, including the requirement that all riders over the age of 2 (please note this is a different age requirement than the Missoula City-County Health Department) and medically able must wear a face mask while onboard.
In 2020, Mountain Line committed to a zero-tailpipe-emissions fleet by 2035. This commitment solidified Mountain Line’s long-standing commitment to clean air, public health and a more sustainable future. Mountain Line became a Zero-fare system in 2015, made possible through partnerships with local government, businesses and nonprofits. Since the debut of Zero-fare, ridership has increased 70 percent. Mountain Line now provides more than 1.5 million rides annually, helping students get to school, employees get to work, and helping seniors and people with disabilities stay active, mobile and independent. By reducing the number of single vehicles on the road, lessening traffic congestion and investing in electric buses, Mountain Line benefits us all.