APTA Award

Website Maintenance on 6/19

The Mountain Line website may experience some disruption between 1 and 2 p.m. on June 19th during planned maintenance. Please make note of our customer service line at 721-3333 in case you need assistance during that time. The Transit app and the Bus Tracker will continue working normally. To see schedules ahead of time or download a PDF map for offline use, please visit the Maps & Schedules page.

MUTD Board appoints Jennifer Sweten as Interim GM

March 29, 2024

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Missoula Urban Transportation District (MUTD/Mountain Line) Board of Directors has appointed Jennifer Sweten as the agency’s Interim General Manager. Sweten will step into the role after CEO and General Manager Corey Aldridge’s departure in mid-April.

“Jennifer’s appointment reflects her exceptional leadership qualities and her deep understanding of our operations,” says Aldridge. “Her track record as Operations Director assures us that she is more than capable of steering MUTD through this transitional phase.”

Sweten has worked for Mountain Line for 17 years, beginning her tenure as a bus operator in 2007 and serving as Director of Operations for the past five years. She is active in numerous regional and national industry associations and was recently elected secretary of the American Public Transportation Association Safety Coordinating Council. Sweten is also a Certified Safety & Security Director, with certifications from the World Safety Organization, the Transportation Safety Institute, and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The board plans to hold a nationwide search for MUTD’s new CEO & General Manager.

GM & CEO Corey Aldridge to Leave Mountain Line in April

March 8, 2024

MISSOULA, Mont.—After nine years as the CEO and General Manager of the Missoula Urban Transportation District (MUTD/Mountain Line), Corey Aldridge announced this week that he will be leaving the agency in April to take the CEO and General Manager position at Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District in Santa Cruz, California.

“It was an incredibly difficult decision,” says Aldridge. “I have been honored to lead an extraordinary team in working on MUTD’s growth and success, and I will always treasure my time in Missoula and at Mountain Line.”

Aldridge’s tenure at Mountain Line saw significant achievements for the agency that have reshaped public transportation in Missoula. Noteworthy among these accomplishments were the fleet’s transition toward electrification, extensive service expansions, and critical infrastructure improvements. The recent completion of the Bus Stop Improvement Project modernized the bus stop network to enhance safety, accessibility, and operational efficiency. After a successful ballot initiative in 2020, Mountain Line launched a 30% service increase, including Sunday service for the very first time. In 2023, MUTD secured almost $40 million dollars in federal funds for the construction of a new maintenance, administration, and operations base, a key step for future growth and service enhancements. The agency has also been an industry leader in its electrification efforts since 2017, consistently winning federal funding for battery-electric buses as part of its commitment to a zero-tailpipe-emissions fleet by 2035.

“These accomplishments have been the highlights of my tenure, demonstrating our shared dedication to delivering exceptional service, promoting sustainability, and serving our community,” says Aldridge.

In 2021, Mountain Line was chosen as the American Public Transit Association’s System of the Year for North America, a testament to the visionary leadership and unwavering commitment of Aldridge and his team.

“Corey has been an exemplary leader for Mountain Line, not only because of his vision for public transit in Missoula, but also because of his character,” says Director of Operations Jennifer Sweten. “He understands the importance of an empathetic, inclusive workplace, and that has fostered a truly welcoming environment at Mountain Line over the last nine years.”

Aldridge will be leaving Mountain Line on April 12. The MUTD Board of Directors is expected to name an interim General Manager at their March 28 meeting.

Bus to Ballot: Your Ride to Vote

Election Day is November 7, which means it’s time to make your plan to get your ballot dropped off. Catch Mountain Line to cast your vote at the following spots from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day next Tuesday:

Elections Center (140 N. Russell St., also open for ballot drop-off 8 a.m.-5 p.m. leading up to Election Day): Route 2

Missoula Public Library (455 E. Main St.): Routes 1, 4, 5, 12

Former Cold Springs School (2625 Briggs St.): Routes 7, 12

C.S. Porter Middle School (2510 W Central Ave.): Routes 6, 8 (Route 9 nearby)

Missoula Fairgrounds drive-through near the YMCA: Route 6 (Routes 1, 7 nearby)

Locations with a ~1-mile walk from transit:

Hellgate Elementary School (2385 Flynn Lane): Route 11

DeSmet School (6355 Padre Lane): Route 11

For more information about eligibility, registration, and ballot drop-off locations, visit www.MissoulaVotes.com. See maps and schedules and plan your trip here.

MUTD Statement Re: Weapons Policy

October 3, 2023

Mountain Line was recently compelled to announce an unwelcome change to our weapons policy—a change forced upon us not by choice, but by legal necessity. As of October 1, 2023, our buses will now only prohibit unlawful weapons. However, our existing policy banning any kind of weapon in Mountain Line buildings remains in place.

This change is in reluctant compliance with a Montana state law enacted in 2020, which severely restricts local government’s ability to regulate firearms. As a government agency, the Missoula Urban Transportation District (MUTD) is legally bound to comply. We have maintained our original policy as long as we could, but recent threats left us with no viable alternative.

Let us be unequivocally clear: this decision was made neither lightly nor willingly. Since late August, when MUTD became aware of a potential lawsuit from a pro-gun special interest group, we have consulted with legal experts and other agencies around Montana and across the country to determine what recourse, if any, was available to us. The MUTD Board of Directors and senior staff have spent many hours deliberating on the best available course of action to keep our employees and passengers—as well as the wider community—as safe as possible. The conclusion is inescapable: resisting this change would likely be a futile and costly endeavor.

We strongly disagree with the notion that allowing firearms on public transit serves the best interests of the community and the people who regularly use or operate buses. The legislation as written did not adequately consider public transit, safety, common sense, and local expertise, and the current law undermines our commitment to ensuring the safety of our employees, passengers, and the community.

While we are forced to comply with state law, we are not silenced by it. MUTD is actively investigating avenues to push back against this requirement and fully intends to do so.

In the meantime, we are choosing to prioritize employee and passenger safety in our new policy by reducing the risk of unnecessary confrontation or aggressive challenges to the weapons ban. By removing the need for operators to confront those attempting to bring weapons on board—focusing instead on passenger behavior, rather than what they may be carrying on their person—we expect to continue to provide as safe an environment on board as we can. Any threatening, dangerous, or aggressive behavior will continue to be prohibited, as it always has been. Mountain Line is confident in our operators, supervisors, and safety procedures, and we trust that the community members who use our service will continue to treat their fellow Missoulians with care and respect.

We invite those with questions or concerns to contact us directly.

MUTD Weapons Policy, effective 10/01/2023:

No unlawful weapons shall be brought aboard MUTD vehicles. In cases where the law allows the possession of weapons, individuals may not display or handle these weapons in a manner that could reasonably cause fear or alarm among other individuals or District employees.

No weapons of any kind are permitted inside MUTD buildings. District employees are prohibited from carrying firearms, knives, or any other weapons on MUTD property, including in vehicles. Any exceptions to this policy must be approved in writing by the General Manager.

Full Weekday Service Resumes August 21

Mountain Line will be returning to regular weekday service on Monday, August 21, after running a modified weekday schedule since April. 

Routes 1 and 2 will resume 15-minute weekday service, while Routes 8 and 12 will resume half-hour service during peak demand hours in the mornings and late afternoons. Detailed schedule information can be found on our website and in the Transit app. 

As always, please get in touch with any questions!

Mountain Line Wins $39 Million Federal Grant to Build New Facility

MISSOULA, Mont.—Mountain Line’s proposal to build a new Maintenance, Operations, and Administration Base (MOAB) was selected by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as an award recipient, bringing more than $39 million of federal infrastructure funding to the agency and paving the way to build a critically necessary new facility. The applicant pool included 475 projects, with 130 selected for funding.

“Mountain Line is thrilled to get this vote of confidence from the FTA,” says Corey Aldridge, CEO and General Manager of Mountain Line, which was named Transit System of the Year for North America in 2021. “Our biggest need right now is a new facility to better serve a rapidly growing Missoula—and this funding will allow us to fulfill that need.”

The Missoula Urban Transportation District (MUTD), which operates Mountain Line, has been at its current facility on Shakespeare Street for more than four decades. In recent years, the lack of sufficient space has restricted the agency’s ability to prepare for Missoula’s increasing population and the corresponding demand for public transit, especially in areas of dense development and new housing.

The awarded funds, part of the FTA’s Low or No Emission Grant Program, will enable MUTD to design and build a new facility that can develop with the agency in multiple phases through the coming decades. The new MOAB will be fully electric, in keeping with the agency’s commitment to a zero-tailpipe-emissions fleet by 2035. Mountain Line is nationally recognized as an industry leader in its bus electrification efforts, and the new facility will support its ongoing transition to a more sustainable transit system.

The federal funds awarded require a local match, which MUTD has been preparing for in recent years while seeking a new location.

“This award comes at a pivotal moment for Mountain Line and Missoula,” says Projects & Planning Manager Colin Woodrow. “This funding leverages local money to meet current space and programming needs and addresses Missoula’s growing demand and Mountain Line’s future growth, as well as reaching other key strategic goals, including those shared by the City and County.”

Since 2017, Mountain Line has successfully applied for multiple competitive FTA awards under the Low and No-Emissions and Bus & Bus Facilities programs to fund its transition to a battery-electric fleet, including a $10.9 million award last August for the purchase of 10 new electric buses. Funding a larger facility will lay the groundwork for MUTD to deliver additional service, including ambitious collaborative efforts like Bus Rapid Transit along the Brooks Street corridor, currently being studied in the Transform Brooks—Connect Midtown planning project.

This discretionary grant award will come from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). “Reliable, affordable public transit plays a key role in supporting our state’s economy and creating good-paying Montana jobs,” said Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), a prominent supporter of the infrastructure package.

Other local and state officials submitted letters of support for Mountain Line’s grant proposal, including Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), the Missoula Board of County Commissioners, and Missoula Mayor Jordan Hess.

“I’m certain that the support we received from community partners and elected officials helped us get across the finish line this year,” says Aldridge. “We came into the application process prepared with a concrete plan and a clear vision for Mountain Line’s role in Missoula, and the enthusiastic support of our partners and leaders showed that Missoula is ready for us to follow through on that plan and invest in a more connected, mobile, and sustainable community.”

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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 and was named Montana’s System of the Year in 2023. 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. Mountain Line provides more than 1.5 million rides annually, helping students get to school, employees get to work, and older adults 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.    

Staffing Shortage Forces Temporary Schedule Cuts

MISSOULA, Mont.—Due to an ongoing staffing shortage, Mountain Line began a temporary service modification on Monday, April 3, affecting bus frequency on Routes 8 and 12.

Instead of running at half-hour intervals during peak demand hours in the mornings and late afternoons, both routes will run hourly, allowing 10 employee hours per day to be reallocated and relieving the strain on the current workforce.

Additional service modifications affecting Routes 1 and 2 are scheduled to begin on April 16. Instead of a 15-minute service frequency, Routes 1 and 2 will run at 20-minute intervals, meaning some riders may face slight delays when waiting for connecting routes.

These reductions are expected to last for at least three months and possibly through the summer. No other route or service changes are planned, and Shuttle Van and Paratransit service will continue normally.

Mountain Line has been actively recruiting new bus operators, with a new class to begin training on April 17. In the meantime, temporarily modifying schedules allows the company to continue service without overburdening bus operators and dispatchers.

“The last thing we want to do is cut service,” says Director of Operations Jennifer Sweten. “We tried to hold off as long as we could. But with so many employees out sick during flu season, and a continuing labor shortage, we just had no choice but to relieve the pressure on our current operators.”

Revised schedules for Routes 1 and 2 will be posted shortly; schedules for Routes 8 and 12 are up to date on the Mountain Line website: Maps & Schedules – Mountain Line. The Transit app will be updated with new schedules before Route 1 and 2 changes take effect in two weeks; in the meantime, riders are advised to verify schedules on the Mountain Line website directly and watch Mountain Line’s social media channels for any updates.

Routes 8 and 12 reduced schedules:

Route 8 Outbound buses will depart from the UM Music Building hourly from 6:54 a.m. to 8:54 a.m. and from 10:24 a.m. to 8:24 p.m.

Route 8 Inbound buses will depart from Community Hospital hourly from 6:20 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. and from 9:50 a.m. to 7:50 p.m.

Route 12 Outbound buses will depart from the Downtown Transfer Center hourly from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and from 5:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Route 12 Inbound buses will depart from 55th & Gharrett at 6 a.m., hourly from 6:58 a.m. to 12:58 p.m., from 2:28 p.m. to 4:28 p.m., and from 5:43 p.m. to 8:43 p.m.

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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.    

Mountain Line Sees 21% Ridership Increase After Adding Seven-Day, Seven-Night Service

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.

 20212022
August72,14093,606
September66,07192,366
Total138,211185,972

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.

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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.    

Mountain Line Bus Operator Receives Statewide Acclaim

Mountain Line bus operators Scott Nelson and Bryan Ursery pose for a photo at the Montana Transit Association meeting this month, celebrating Ursery receiving the Carey Pope Award.

MISSOULA, Mont.— Bryan Ursery has been providing safe, reliable service to Missoulians as a Mountain Line bus operator for 23 years. His safety record is equally long, having never had a preventable accident in all that time. Ursery’s dedication to his field, his outstanding customer service to his riders, and his encouragement of his peers earned him the Carey Pope Award, equivalent to a lifetime achievement, bestowed by the Montana Transit Association at their annual conference last week.

“Bryan always goes above and beyond to make riders, coworkers, and community members feel welcomed and valued,” said Jennifer Sweten, Director of Operations. “He remembers the smallest details shared about your life and asks follow-up questions months later when you board his bus or pass him in the hall. He is respected by peers and loved by riders.”

Ursery has also won multiple internal agency awards for his dedication to his position since starting with Mountain Line in 1999. At the agency level, Ursery has won “Operations Employee of the Year” four times; “Perfect Attendance” seven times; and “Outstanding Customer Service” three times.

He also continues to prioritize honing his own skills as an operator and has been a frequent competitor in the Bus Roadeo, a state and national event that pits bus operators from different agencies against each other in a safety-based obstacle course. Ursery has won the Montana statewide Roadeo Division I title six times (’00, ’04, ’07, ’11, ’14, ’19) and took first place in the American Public Transportation Association’s national Customer Service Challenge at the International Bus Roadeo in Memphis, Tennessee in 2011.

“Bryan is an exemplary employee and bus operator, one we are lucky to have on our team,” said Sweten. “He is humble, invested in his transit family, and well deserving of this award.”

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Mountain Line launched seven-day and seven-night service in July 2022, putting 30% more service on the road. The agency 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. Mountain Line 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, to average more than 1.5 million rides annually, pre-pandemic. Mountain Line helps 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.