MISSOULA, Mont.— Mountain Line announced fixed-route ridership has increased 21% since launching seven-day and seven-night service this July. The agency provided a total of 220,429 rides on its fixed-route service in April through June of this year, compared with 267,175 rides this July through September.
“It’s fantastic to see Missoulians using the long-requested later-evening and expanded weekend service,” said Corey Aldridge, Mountain Line CEO and general manager. “This increase in ridership reinforces that Mountain Line is essential, valued and widely used.”
The agency found a 9% increase in average weekday ridership; a 59% increase in average Saturday ridership; and an average of 1,319 trips per day on its new Sunday service. A rider getting on and off the bus is considered one ride or one trip.
Mountain Line also compared fixed-route ridership from August and September of 2021 and 2022, to find overall ridership has increased 35% from last year.
The agency’s expanded service also benefits seniors and people living with disabilities who use Mountain Line’s Paratransit and Shuttle Van services. Paratransit ridership has increased 59% from last year during the same period.
“Mountain Line benefits us all by helping students get to school, employees get to work and seniors and those living with disabilities remain mobile and active,” said Aldridge. “Even those who don’t ride benefit from reduced traffic congestion, decreased parking demand, cleaner air and a healthier, more equitable community.”
The July service expansion was a direct response to public input gathered during Mountain Line’s strategic planning process that began in 2017 and culminated in 2020 when voters approved the agency’s service-expansion initiative by a 20% margin. While the timeline for service expansions was impacted by the national labor shortage in 2021, the agency successfully grew from 58 employees in 2021 to 100 in 2022, allowing the expansion to take place.
Mountain Line was named the top public transit agency in North America in its size in 2021, earning the American Public Transportation Association Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award. The agency also won the Montana Transit Association statewide safety award in 2021. Committed to a zero-tailpipe-emissions fleet by 2035, Mountain Line has a long-standing commitment to clean air, public health and a more sustainable future. Since becoming a zero-fare system in 2015, ridership has increased nearly 70 percent. During normal times, Mountain Line provides more than 1.5 million rides annually, helping students get to school, employees get to work, and seniors and those living 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.