The Mountain Line bus system hit another big ridership record last month.

The Missoula Urban Transportation District, which operates the bus line, provided 111,607 rides in April, a 42 percent increase over last April and the highest ridership of any month in the bus line’s history.

Back in January, the agency stopped collecting bus fees as it instituted a three-year, "zero-fare" demonstration project, sponsored by 14 community partners. Since then, ridership has been increasing every month.

In February, the bus system provided 100,120 rides to customers, a 23 percent increase over the February 2014 total. The first day of the zero-fare initiative, Jan. 5, saw a 17 percent increase over the first Monday of 2014.

“Seeing record ridership is certainly an indication that Mountain Line benefits us all,” said MUTD board chairman Eric Hines. “Mountain Line is committed to building a better Missoula.”

In 2013, Missoula voters approved a $1.7 million mill levy that allowed Mountain Line to implement 15-minute Bolt! service on Route 2 and late evening service until 9:50 p.m. Monday through Friday on Routes 1, 2, 6 and 7.

“It’s never been easier to ride Mountain Line” said general manager Corey Aldridge. “All of the enhancements have made riding the bus more convenient than ever before.”

Officals with the MUTD have said in the past that the goal of the zero-fare initiative is to increase ridership by 400,000 annual rides, or 45 percent, to reduce congestion and pollution in Missoula and allow residents to have more mobility.

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