APTA Award

2021 Moments Worth Celebrating

At Mountain Line, our business is community service. We’re there in summer heatwaves and winter storms, in mundane moments and challenging times. ​Through it all, you can count on us to show up each day to help connect our community and get our riders where they need to go.

Thank you for another great year – and for taking a moment to help us celebrate all we accomplished in 2021.

Mountain Line Named Top Public Transit Agency in North America

Mountain Line was named the top public transit agency in the United States and Canada in its size, earning the prestigious 2021 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award!

Mountain Line underwent a robust review process, evaluating the agency’s performance over the past three years across multiple departments. This award wouldn’t have been possible without strong community support and phenomenal work by Mountain Line employees. Thank you for helping us provide outstanding service to benefit all Missoulians! Learn more about our award here.

Mountain Line also won the Montana Transit Association 2020 Outstanding Safety Record Award for its exemplary commitment to safety. This award is given to a Montana transportation provider with the lowest number of preventable accidents per 100,000 revenue miles. Mountain Line had just two preventable accidents in over 833,900 revenue miles in calendar year 2020.

Sustainability: Cresting 40% Battery Electric

In 2020, we committed to a zero-tailpipe-emissions fleet by 2035. In 2021, we made good on that commitment, introducing six new electric buses into service for a total of 12 electric vehicles on the road – which is 40% of our fixed-route fleet!

And we’re not slowing down. We successfully competed for a $3.6 million Low- or No-Emissions federal grant in 2021 that will allow us to purchase four more electric buses, bringing our fixed-route fleet to 57% electric by 2023. This grant also includes funding to allow Mountain Line to lead a comparative study of electric bus technologies that will inform other transit agencies hoping to make a similar transition.

Learn more about our commitments to sustainability.

We also completed the installation of a public art mural at our Downtown Transfer Center, focused on visually representing Mountain Line’s commitment to clean air and environmental stewardship.

In partnership with the City of Missoula Public Art Committee, Mountain Line engaged indigenous artist Stella Nall to tackle one of the most challenging physical locations on our building – and she absolutely nailed it.

Nall’s piece, titled “Climate Conscious Creatures Wheel Toward a Sustainable Future,” features animals native to Montana imagined as bus creatures, happily wheeling through clean air above the mountains. Each bus is propelled by many wheels, all inspired by the form and color palette of the Medicine Wheel.

This piece visually represents how public transportation, sustainability, and community go hand in hand, while also making our transfer center a more vibrant, inclusive and welcoming space. Learn more in Nall’s artist statement.

Moving Missoula Forward: Impact in the Community

Mountain Line also had many wins off the road in 2021, starting with the national recognition of our COVID-19 Vaccine Location Map by Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, during his national address honoring transit’s role in responding to the pandemic.

We also garnered national attention when Missoula was chosen to host the seventh annual Community Transporation Association of America’s Small Urban Network conference this summer. Conference attendees came from all over the U.S. to discuss timely topics such as transit’s role in supporting affordable housing and addressing climate change. Senators Daines and Tester engaged in the event and Mountain Line was featured in an expert panel on transitioning to a sustainable fleet.

Mountain Line showed up at the Special Olympics Dance Party, stuffed the bus with over 2,000 pounds of food for the Missoula Food Bank, and turned up the creativity with its very own version of “Wheels on the Bus: Zootown Edition.”

We encouraged a sustainable Spring Shift as our community reopened, and were honored by Mayor Engen’s declaration of Transit Operator Appreciation Day in March, for all our team has done for Missoulians over the past year.

On the Horizon: Expansions in an Unknown Labor Market

So what’s next? Mountain Line is excited to offer seven-day and seven-night service in 2022, as soon as we are adequately staffed. We could have never predicted navigating the current labor market when going to the ballot in 2020, and staffing remains our limiting factor in getting expanded service on the road. We’ll continue to keep you updated on our timeline. For now, check out what’s to come here.

Thank you for an amazing year. We are honored to be part of this community and look forward to serving you in 2022.