In an effort to meet future community transportation needs in Missoula, Associated Students of The University of Montana Transportation recently applied for and received a Clean Diesel Grant from Montana Department of Environmental Quality. A new El Dorado bus will replace one of the 1997 New Flyer buses currently in use. The new bus is expected to arrive in September 2013. According to Brian Spangler of Montana DEQ, ASUM Transportation was a great candidate for this grant.
Due to the increased demand for bus service, students purchased used equipment to meet growing needs. The service gave 3,860 rides in 2000 and 445,000 rides in 2012, increasing from a 15-passenger van to a six-bus system in a very short time. With buses costing around $400,000 new and $40,000 used, the students found that used buses met their needs but were not state-of-the-art equipment and caused some issues with the surrounding neighborhood. In an effort to address these concerns, ASUM has been looking for additional funding and was thrilled to be awarded this grant.
“ASUM Transportation has taken community concerns about noise and pollution levels very seriously,” said ASUM President Zach Brown. “Our service has been reducing traffic congestion and overall emissions along our routes for years. But it is our obligation to plan for future growth so that we can purchase the most efficient, quiet and environmentally friendly buses that student dollars can afford. This grant is a huge step in the right direction – for us and for the community of Missoula.”
Students continue to appreciate the convenience and efficiency of their bus system. Likewise, many University District residents appreciate reduced traffic counts in this corridor even as the student population increases. The new bus and the existing system are essential to linking student housing, recreation, general services and Missoula College to the mountain campus.
Sally Daer, a long-time Missoula resident and member of the University District community, has seen ASUM Transportation services improve her neighborhood over the past decade.
“I used to have a really hard time backing out of my driveway because of traffic, but ASUM’s bus service has really reduced traffic congestion along Arthur Avenue and I no longer have those problems,” she said. “I think those buses have really improved my neighborhood over the years.”
ASUM Transportation is one of only a handful of student-run, student-funded transportation organizations in the country.
For more information call ASUM Transportation Director Nancy Wilson or visit http://life.umt.edu/asum/asum_agencies/Transportation/.