APTA Award

Public Art Installation at Mountain Line Transfer Center to Commence April 1

MISSOULA – Starting April 1, Missoulians can expect to see new splashes of color going up at the Mountain Line Downtown Transfer Center (DTC), as artist Stella Nall gets to work on a full-scale mural outside the south entrance celebrating public transportation, sustainability and environmental stewardship. 

The mural, titled “Climate Conscious Creatures Wheel Towards a Sustainable Future,” combines Nall’s whimsical style and cultural heritage with Mountain Line’s commitments to a sustainable future. 

“I use a lot of symbolism in my work. Some of it is drawn from tradition, and some I develop to speak to my own experiences,” said Nall, a 23-year-old descendant of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Tribe. “I was initially drawn to this opportunity because I’m very passionate about sustainability and how we can make conscious steps toward maintaining a healthier balance with the earth.”  

Nall’s design shows animals native to Montana, like bison, badgers and mountain lions, imagined as bus creatures wheeling through clean air above the mountains. Each bus has many wheels, all inspired by the form and color palate of the traditional Plains medicine wheel.  

According to Nall, there are several different meanings for the medicine wheel, depending on the Plains tribe. 

“The way I was taught about it speaks well to the ideas of this project,” said Nall. “Through this mural I hope to highlight our relationship with the earth and the animals that we share it with, and to advocate for making conscious decisions to care for them by choosing to live more sustainably.” 

The original public art call, which launched in the summer of 2020, was a joint effort between Mountain Line and the City of Missoula Public Arts Committee (PAC). The call asked artists to visually represent Mountain Line’s commitments to sustainability and the benefits of those commitments for the entire community. 

Jennifer Sweten, Director of Operations at Mountain Line and a member of the PAC review committee, said she was captured by Nall’s vision and personality. 

“We loved how Stella created a direct connection between public transportation and stewardship for the environment,” said Sweten. “At Mountain Line, sustainability is one of our guiding principles, from reducing traffic congestion and helping keep our air clean, to committing to a zero-tailpipe-emissions fleet by 2035.” 

Kathi Olson, acting chair of the PAC, said she couldn’t imagine a better pairing than Mountain Line and Nall. 

“There are many factors that go into building a healthier more equitable community,” said Olson. “And we see three of them coming together in this project: supporting public art, BIPOC representation, and sustainable, accessible public transportation.” 

Nall will be working on the installation throughout the month of April. Originally from Bozeman, she came to Missoula to attend the University of Montana, graduating in 2020 with a bachelor’s in psychology, a Bachelor of Fine Art in printmaking, and a minor in art history and criticism. Nall is now embracing life as a full-time artist. She has worked on smaller-scale projects throughout the community over the past couple of years, ranging from artistic design for Clyde Coffee to the Zootown Arts Community Center Mural Alley Project. The installation at the DTC will be the first time Nall has worked on such a challenging landscape, involving three textured concrete pillars and two large beams. 

You can see more of Nall’s work at www.stellamarieart.com and can catch her in action throughout the month at 200 W Pine St.  

Mountain Line and the PAC ask that all visitors be respectful of Nall’s space as she works and remind visitors that masks are required at all times while at the DTC. 

A First Friday designation celebration is planned for May 7. 


In 2020, Mountain Line committed to a zero-tailpipe-emissions fleet by 2035. This action 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. During normal times, Mountain Line 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. 

Kids Clean Air Activity Packet

Did you know taking the bus can help keep our air clean?

One of the best ways we can help keep our air clean is by lowering our carbon footprint. In the Missoula Valley, transportation is the number one contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. By choosing to use sustainable transportation, like taking the bus, riding your bike, or walking, you can make a big difference in our air quality!

To celebrate clean air, we’ve put together some fun activities for the whole family! Check them out individually below, or download the entire activity packet here.

At Mountain Line, we are committed to keeping our air clean. You can learn more about our sustainability initiatives here.

Celebrating (Yes, Celebrating) 2020

While this year was anything but “business as usual,” we at Mountain Line decided to see the disruption caused by COVID-19 as an opportunity to reimagine how we serve Missoula

We accomplished so much in 2020 and are proud of the resilience and unending dedication of our team. Here are our highlights from the year.

COVID-19: Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Even during the height of the shutdown in Missoula, we continued to operate. Our employees showed up each day to provide essential service, helping frontline workers get to work and riders access the grocery store, doctor’s office and other essential services.

We are grateful to our team and our community for their support and recognizing the importance of reliable, accessible transportation in keeping our community running. And we remain committed to keeping our operators and riders as safe as possible, every day.

Learn more about our commitments to safety here.

In addition to never shutting down, we found new ways to serve and connect our community.

We partnered with the American Cancer Society and our local hospitals to provide safe transportation to cancer treatment patients in Missoula.

During the height of the shutdown, we turned electric buses into community Wi-Fi hotspots for those needing reliable internet access to attend school, navigate unemployment, or simply connect with their loved ones.

We also organized a five-week-long livestream concert series, inviting local musicians to perform on our electric bus while streaming the show to thousands. We partnered with over a dozen local businesses to sponsor individual artists, ensuring our musicians were compensated while keeping the concerts free to the public. Ultimately, our concert series benefited 15 local musicians and engaged over 7,500 viewers. It also led to Mountain Line receiving the Arts Missoula Star award in September, for its support of local artists.

You can watch all of our summer concerts on our YouTube Channel.

Sustainability: A Banner Year For Mountain Line

In 2020, we took our commitment to sustainability to the next level by committing to a zero-tailpipe-emissions fleet by 2035.

We already have six electric buses on the road and six more on the way. When our new buses arrive, we’ll be 40 percent all electric! This milestone distinguishes Mountain Line as a leader in clean public transportation in the United States.

The purchase of these six new electric vehicles was made possible by $4.6 million in federal and state grants awarded to Mountain Line in May 2020. We were the first agency in Montana to receive funding from the Volkswagen Environmental Trust Settlement, via a $1 million grant awarded by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. We also successfully competed for a $3.6 million Low- or No- Emissions grant through the Federal Transit Administration.

Learn more about our commitment to sustainability.

Moving Missoula Forward: Improving Service to Benefit Us All

In the spring of 2020, we kicked off our Bus Stop Improvement Project. This is one of the largest projects our agency has ever undertaken and will impact EVERY single bus stop along Mountain Line’s 12 fixed routes. 

The project is focused on three goals:

  • Improve safety.
  • Increase accessibility.
  • Maximize efficiency.

By the numbers, this project will:

Construction is still underway and is expected to conclude in summer 2021.

In addition to launching external improvements, we turned our attention inward this year, working as an agency to improve our internal practices. We formed our first Diversity and Inclusion Committee and formalized our commitment to creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment for our employees, riders and community.

Finally, (and this is a big one), we received overwhelming support from voters to expand our zero-fare service later into the evening and, for the first time ever, on Sundays! Our successful mill levy request will usher in a new era of service for Mountain Line. We’re currently in the process of expanding our team (we’re hiring!), with a plan to debut voter-approved service expansions in early 2022.

Stay updated on mill levy expansions here. We’ll have more details posted in January 2021.

Thank you for an amazing year, despite the challenges. We are honored to be part of this community and look forward to serving you in 2021.