Two months after receiving federal funding to grow its fleet of electric vehicles, Mountain Line got more good news on Tuesday, this time being named the best public transit agency in the U.S. and Canada for an organization of its size.
The Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award, issued by the American Public Transportation Association, comes as the agency explores its future and ways to grow the system.
“Mountain Line is comprised of people who truly want to serve this community and are invested in its long-term health and sustainability,” said Mountain Line CEO and General Manager Corey Aldridge. “Our team’s dedication over the past three years to providing equitable, accessible service has been exemplary and we’re honored to receive this national recognition.”
According to Mountain Line, the transit agency underwent a thorough evaluation that included three years of performance. Data included a review of vehicle miles and operating costs. Safety, accessibility, financial management and community relations were also reviewed.
“This year’s submissions were some of the most competitive and outstanding that Awards Committee members have ever evaluated,” transportation association chair Jennifer Mitchell said in a statement. “The individual assessments of our members found your (Mountain Line) nomination to be the very best.”
Mountain Line last month received a $3.6 million grant to continue growing its electric fleet. The agency currently has six electric buses on the road and several more are expected to come on line later this year.
By January, the agency said, nearly half of its fleet will be electric.
“The national recognition that Mountain Line has received would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of all Mountain Line employees and the support of the city and county of Missoula and the residents of our district,” said Mountain Line board chair Jesse Dodson.
While Mountain Line grows its electric fleet, it’s also eyeing its future. The agency is a partner in planning the future of the Brooks Street corridor, where a center-running rapid transit system is planned.
The agency also is improving its bus stops across the city. The agency said it’s adding accessible boarding and alighting areas to 68 existing bus stops. Some existing stops will also be moved to safer locations.
“We are ushering in a new era for Mountain Line with our Bus Stop Improvement Project and service expansions on the horizon in 2022,” said Aldridge. “Mountain Line’s success and innovation is owed in large part to the strong support of public transportation by our community and our Zero-Fare Partners, making this award a point of community pride.”