MISSOULA — Calling it key to its strategies around sustainability, Missoula County awarded funding to Mountain Line to continue a number of services, including free ridership on its fleet of buses.
The funding, approved last week, was included in a batch of agreements with local nonprofits, ranging from the Child Development Center to Homeword.
The Missoula Urban Transportation District received $40,500 in the round of funding, split between three services including van pool, Paratransit and Zero Fare.
“It helps support Zero Fare services so Mountain Line can continue to offer that,” said Eileen Sanson with the county grants program.
Mountain Line partnered with local government and 11 other businesses in 2015 to launch Zero Fare, and it has seen ridership expand ever since. The transit district now provides 1.6 million rides each year, marking a 70% percent increase from 2015.
The partnership also has grown to include nearly three-dozen member organizations, and Mountain Line recently put several new electric buses into service, thanks to federal grants.
The county’s contribution to the program gels with its goals around sustainability and climate change. Of the funding directed toward Mountain Line, $20,000 goes to support Zero Fare.
“Our public transportation system is key for furthering out sustainability goals here in Missoula County,” said Commissioner Dave Strohmaier. “Plus, it provides an important transportation option for folks who otherwise might not be able to afford other means of transportation.”