Voters will decide whether to boost Missoula's Mountain Line mill levy

MISSOULA COUNTY

Kevin Maki By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
POSTED: 6:59 PM Jul 10 2013   UPDATED: 7:03 PM Jul 10 2013
Thieves rummage through unlocked cars in Lolo
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Mountain Line's Route 1 is Missoula's busiest route. It takes you through downtown, to the library, to Southgate Mall, up south Avenue to Missoula College and the University of Montana.

Rider Joe Lanza thinks bus travel is good for everybody.

"The smog," said Lanza, "and the emissions that it cuts down on."

Some of the mill levy would extend service on Mountain Line's four busiest routes from about 7 p.m. to 9:50 p.m.

"I work in the evenings," said rider Tina Carter, "so if it would extend a bit later then I wouldn't have to worry about riding my home home."

Riders said they would use the bus more if they had longer hours and more flexibility. That's what Mountain Line wants to hear.

The $1.7 million mill levy would offer more vehicles and service for specialized transportation for seniors and the disabled.

"We're at capacity now with the door-to-door, curb-to-curb service," said Mountain Line general manager Michael Tree.

Route 2, which offers service through downtown and Reserve Street  would see 15-minute service all day. Route 1 was the first route to have 15-minute service all day.

"That route has increased in ridership 45 percent this year," said Tree, "so it tells you the importance of frequency with public transportation."

It's the first time Mountain Line asked for a mill levy increase since it started service in 1976.

"You're not only helping the environment but you're also making it a system that is a community based system work better," said homeowner Charity Norton.

But homeowner Linda Kooren said the bus is too inconvenient. She said $19 would put gas in her car to get her where she has to go on time.

Mountain Line asked the public what it wanted in a series of public forums. It's those improvements the mill levy increase would pay for.

The levy goes before voters in November.