Thanks to receiving two highly competitive federal grants, the Mountain Line bus service will soon be adding six new electric buses to its fleet,

Community Outreach Coordinator for Mountain Bill Pfeiffer said the new buses will be arriving this summer.

“We were able to get the grants thanks to the large increase in ridership we received thanks to the Zero Fare program,” said Pfeiffer. “We’re just really excited to be helping to improve Missoula’s air quality as we know that can be an issue in Missoula. You may be familiar with the Proterra bus that the U-DASH purchased a few years ago. Ours will be Proterra buses as well, but as opposed t being quick charge buses, ours are going to be long range so we’re going to charge them overnight. We’ll be able to use them on our longer routes. We’re so excited that we’re finally starting to upgrade our fleet.”

Pfeiffer said each of the buses costs about $800,000, for a total investment of $4.8 million.

“The grant we received was for $500,000, so that along with the bus and bus facilities grant is basically going to help us make up the difference in cost between electric and diesel buses,” he said. “We’re getting an upgrade to the best buses we could get.”

Pfeiffer described Zero Fare program and how many community partners make it possible.

“There’s been a lot of confusion about this,” he said. “We seek donations to make up for the revenue we lose from not charging fares. In 2014, which was the last year we collected fares, the fares made up about nine percent of our operational budget, about $465,000. So, we went out to the community and said if we can get enough partners, we can make the fares free for everybody. Some of the partners include the University of Montana, St. Patrick Hospital, Community Medical Center, the City and County of Missoula, Missoula Federal Credit Union and there are a number of nonprofits that contribute, as well.”

Pfeiffer invites any business of nonprofit in Missoula to become a partner by clicking here.