Monthly Archives: April 2013

Salt Lake Express restoring Montana bus routes; companies working together to restore service to six of Montana’s seven largest cities

Here is the press release regarding SLE’s new services.

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Yesterday April 4th Salt Lake Express (SLE) began running two roundtrip routes a day from Billings to Missoula; one of these schedules will service Helena with the other connecting through Butte. Starting April 15th, the Rexburg, Idaho based business will begin offering bus service in and out of Great Falls twice a day with one shuttle going to Helena and the other passing through Helena and connecting on to Butte. Great Falls and Helena have been without intercity bus service since March 22, when Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) inspectors shut down the Billings-based Rimrock Stages bus fleet.

“We are thrilled to be able to help out in the interim covering several of the routes previously serviced by Rimrock Stages,” said Jacob Price, Operations Manager at Salt Lake Express (SLE). “SLE believes Rimrock Stages may resume operations in the future. If this occurs, these lines will be picked up again by Rimrock.” Price says SLE will be hiring 10 to 15 local Montana drivers to cover these routes. All ticket agency and boarding locations will remain at the same locations that have served Rimrock Stages.

SLE and Minnesota-based Jefferson Lines are working together to restore service to six of Montana’s seven largest cities. They have been assisted by Lisa Ballard of the Missoula-based transit consulting company Current Transportation Solutions, who has been volunteering her time to act as a central point of contact and facilitator for the parties involved. Ballard said that Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are also working hard to seek solutions.

On Saturday, March 30 Jefferson Lines began one round trip from Billings through Butte to Missoula and extended its Glendive run from Fargo on into Billings. In combination, Salt Lake Express and Jefferson have been able to restore most of Montana and North Dakota intercity bus service to previous levels. US 93 from Missoula to Kalispell, and I-94 between Glendive and Bismarck remain without service. This restored service allows daytime bus travel to many Montana destinations, and removes 12-hour layovers for cross country travelers.

“As a progressive business with great customer service we feel privileged to be able to help passengers by making national connections through our main express routes between Montana and Salt Lake City,” said Price.

All SLE’s schedules are programmed to link with Greyhound, Arrow Stages and Jefferson Lines. Salt Lake Express currently provides a bus connection from Southeastern Idaho to Butte, Montana and Salt Lake Valley in Utah. They also serve West Yellowstone, Pocatello, Boise and the Cache Valley in Utah. By April 21st, their express routes will service Moab, UT and Richfield, UT.

Current Transportation Solutions has been involved because the company has worked closely with Rimrock Stages, gaining a detailed knowledge of the Montana bus service through development of a 2011 transit plan completed under contract with the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT). Current Transportation Solutions has also created a temporary website with updates and information about the situation:https://mtndintercity.wordpress.com/

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This morning Salt Lake Express started service between Missoula, Helena, Butte, Bozeman, and Billings

This morning around 8:45 am a bus left Billings to head west towards Bozeman. At 11:15 am another bus headed east from Missoula. They will meet around 1:00 pm in Helena and continue on to complete the first Salt Lake Express (SLE) east-west Montana run. Their second run will begin around 1:45 pm in Billings and 4:00 pm in Missoula and meet in Butte around 6:00 pm. Along with Jefferson Lines’ Missoula to Billings service, this corridor is back to the level of service it had before.

Yesterday Salt Lake Express announced it will pick up Rimrock’s scheduled runs between Great Falls and Butte starting April 15. Their General Manager, Jacob Price, told me, “We are thrilled to be able to help out in the interim covering several of the routes previously serviced by Rimrock.”

Still no information on Missoula to Whitefish and I-94 from Billings to Bismarck.

New services are fairly close to the Rimrock timetables (yes I know bus timetables are nearly impossible to understand). I think SLE is running the same schedule as shown in the Missoula-Billings and Great Falls-Helena-Butte table. Jefferson is running at the same general time but has had to shift schedules a little.  Anyone wanting to book a ride should visit their local ticket agent. They have the most accurate, up-to-date information.

Articles about service restoration

These are some but not all of the articles.

“Waiting for the Bus” , Missoula Independent, April 4

“Jefferson Lines extends bus services”, Sidney Herald, April 2

“Bus Line Needed Between Missoula, Whitefish”, ABC Fox Montana, April 1

“Limited bus service on Rimrock Stages routes starting again”, Billings Gazette, March 29

Companies step up to return bus service to Montana” KBZK April 1