The Mountain Line transit system is set to overhaul a range of its Missoula bus stops with 18 upgraded shelters, additional seating and consistent signage come spring.
A couple of bus shelters have already been updated, including solar-powered LED lighting at some of the busiest locations. The project has been in the works for years, but last year the bus system was awarded a federal grant for the overhaul.
The $2.7 million grant helped purchase six battery-electric buses, with a portion of the grant funding upgrades to stops on the two busiest bus routes, and updating signage system-wide.
Routes 1 and 2 will see a total of 18 improved shelters and updated Americans with Disabilities Act access at 68 stops. All of the signs at the 452 stops system-wide will be replaced. Other upgrades include adding seating to about 50 stops, and 44 stops will get trash cans.
Bill Pfeiffer, the community outreach coordinator at Mountain Line, said the work was part of a larger plan to increase safety and accessibility of the bus stops.
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“Safety is the number one concern of Mountain Line, so we’re always trying to find ways to make bus stops safer, and one way is through lighting,” Pfeiffer said. “The main thing in spring is signage. We have really inconsistent signage as a result of, really, 41 years of moving stops around and new stops being added, leading to different signing. So we’ll be getting consistent signage up that is more like your standard urban transit sign that lets you know what buses stop at each spot and things like that.”
The most heavily used routes, the 15-minute Bolt service on routes 1 and 2, are set for updates to bring the stops into ADA standards, Pfeiffer said. While all buses in the system are accessible, many of the stops are not on ideal surfaces for people with impaired mobility, and 68 stops will be updated.
Vince Caristo, projects management specialist at Mountain Line, said most bus stops in Missoula are just “poles in the ground,” often requiring people to cross the boulevard to reach the curb, which can be difficult for people in wheelchairs to cross.
“It’s important to us for the fixed-route bus system to be accessible to all people,” Caristo said. “The para-transit vans are available, but they’re much less flexible and need to be scheduled in advance. So if we can make fixed route more accessible, people can have that freedom and flexibility.”
Caristo also said the new signs will feature the updated Mountain Line logo and create consistent branding with the new blue and green color scheme.