Tribes take over bus route connecting Missoula to Whitefish

Dec 17, 2013

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are stepping up to fill a transportation gap between the Flathead, Mission, and Missoula Valleys. Transit Section Superintendent David Jacobs with the Montana Department of Transportation says Rimrock Stages was handling bus service from Missoula to Kalispell.

He said it was shut down by the Federal Motor Carriers Service Administration for non-compliance last March. He said the MDOT was waiting to see if Rimrock Stages would come back into compliance.

“But it turns out, over through the whole investigation that Rimrock Stages was no longer going to provide service for the state of Montana, and so we had to pursue other avenues and look for another provider that would pick up that route,” Jacobs said.

As of Monday the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is the new provider running that route.

Corky Sais is the Transit Manager for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes which runs the on-reservation Tribal Transit as well as Flathead Transit. Sais said the existing service mostly involves getting people to medical appointments, and to work. He said last year they had nearly 50,000 riders, and drove 700,000 miles.

A one-way ticket from Whitefish to Missoula costs $31 dollars.  

The expanded coverage from Whitefish to Missoula will run seven-days-a-week. The Tribes partnered with Greyhound for the service, and tickets will be available at Greyhound ticket locations, Brian’s Conoco in Kalispell, the KwaTaqNuk Resort in Polson, Quicksilver Express in Pablo, Mountain View Cenex in Saint Ignatius, and by calling (406) 275-2872.

It’s an 18 month pilot project.

“We want to make sure this is going to work- with the ridership and with the funding from MDT and Greyhound matching our fund for grants; because all of our grants are required to have match- and Greyhound has provided that,” Sais said.