Category Archives: what service is available?

New companies provide fewer bus service options – Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Laura Lundquist of the Chronicle wrote an insightful piece about the economics of intercity bus service.
http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/economy/article_08343272-a4cc-11e3-be27-001a4bcf887a.html

“A year after Montana lost its homegrown bus company, many towns still don’t have reliable or affordable bus service. That’s not uncommon in a rural state, but bus companies aren’t helping.”

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Service between Butte, Helena, and Great Falls to be restored February 20, 2014

Salt Lake Express announced today that they will begin intercity bus service between Butte, Helena, and Great Falls starting February 20th.  Stops on the route will include Great Falls, Ulm Junction, Cascade, Craig Junction, Wolf Creek, Helena, Boulder, Basin, and Butte. This new service will connect at the Butte Bus Transfer Center with the Salt Lake Express bus to Rexburg, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and Salt Lake City via I-15; and the Jefferson Lines I-90 eastbound and westbound routes to Missoula, Bozeman, Billings, and points beyond.

Great Falls to Butte southbound via I-15: Great Falls 3:15pm; Helena 5:00pm; arriving in Butte at 6:15pm.

Butte to Great Falls northbound via I-15: Butte 6:45pm; Helena 8:00pm;  arriving in Great Falls at 9:45pm.

To see all Salt Lake Express schedules or make reservations visit www.SaltLakeExpress.com or call 1-800-356-9796.

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Salt Lake Express previously operated this service last summer but due to low ridership it was terminated until a funding source could be found.  Montana Department of Transportation and Salt Lake Express have been working on restoring the connection since that time, culminating in a signed contract today.  Funding comes from the Federal Transit Administration 5311(f) Intercity Bus Program, which is designed to connect rural communities into urban cities as well as connect to the national bus network.

Salt Lake Express’s goal is to reach all rural and urban communities with their own connections as well as coordinating with numerous other providers throughout the state in these regions they serve. This goal of connectivity is shared by Montana Transportation Department.

About Salt Lake Express: Currently Salt Lake Express provides service from Rexburg, ID to Salt Lake City, UT (11 times daily), Salt Lake City, UT to Provo, UT (2 times daily), Idaho Falls, ID to Butte, MT (2 times daily), Rexburg, ID to West Yellowstone, MT (2 times daily), Rexburg, ID to Jackson, WY(2 times daily), Pocatello, ID to Boise, ID (2 times daily), Logan, UT to Salt Lake City, UT (11 times daily), Logan, UT to Rexburg, ID (5 times daily), and points in between. All these routes connect to each other in a timely fashion with very few layovers and waiting time. Seamless connectivity throughout this region has been achieved as a result of an outstanding management team.  Tom Price, the owner of Salt Lake Express has won awards for his business. He was named Businessman of the Year by the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce and has led the Salt Lake Express administration team to success by his wisdom, perseverance and inspiration. Tom was quoted regarding this project, “This is a great additional connection for us.  This will allow the people living in this corridor to have access to all the destinations we serve as well as into the National Bus Network which includes the continental U.S.  This gives them more options for transportation.  We are excited to partner with Montana Transportation Department on this project!”

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Overall status of Montana’s intercity bus network: With the addition of this route, all communities that had intercity bus service prior to March 2013 when Rimrock Trailways shut down now have service, but at a lower frequency.

  • I-15 has 1 round trip per day instead of 2
  • US 93 has 1 round trip instead of 2
  • Missoula-Bozeman,Billings has 2 round trips instead of 3, with the east-west route that went from Missoula through Helena to Bozeman eliminated.
  • Travel from Great Falls and Helena to Missoula, Billings, and Bozeman is worse than pre-March service, requiring a detour through Butte.

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Update: 2/19/2013: Montana’s media coverage is shown below.

Bus route along I-15 to resume Thursday – Helena Independent Record
Whether you need to go to Salt Lake City, Fort Belknap or only Great Falls, a bus will be able to take you there, beginning Thursday. Bus service is being restored along Interstate 15 from Butte to Great Falls with a stop in Helena. The service had been …

Bus route resumes Thursday between Butte and Great Falls  – Montana Standard
Starting Thursday, cost for a one-way Salt Lake Express bus ticket from Butte to Great Falls is $47.75; a round trip ticket is double that amount at $95.50. A one-way ticket from Dillon to Butte costs $31.50; a round-trip ticket costs $63. Salt Lake Express …

On the road again: Intercity bus service restored to I-15 corridor from Butte to …  Great Falls Tribune
Francis Skinner is a driver for the Fort Belknap Super Shuttle, which provides passenger service from Fort Belknap to Great Falls twice a week. Salt Lake Express will begin passenger bus service from Great Falls to Butte Thursday, a route that was …

New bus service along I-15 begins Thursday KXLF Butte News
HELENA – Montanans between Butte and Great Falls will have a new transportation option starting Thursday, when Salt Lake Express will launch service with stops at Ulm Junction, Cascade, Craig, Wolf Creek, Helena, Boulder, and Basin. The company plans

Bus company to offer service between Butte, Great Falls
The Missoulian
lost routes after Rimrock Stages’ shutdown. BILLINGS – Bus riders traveling west and east between Billings and Missoula have three daily round trips to choose from again. Read more · Rimrock Stages president says Montana-based bus company will reopen.

Intercity Bus Service Restored To I-15 Corridor From Butte To Great Falls – Beartooth NBC
Salt Lake Express announced today that they will begin intercity bus service between Butte, Helena, and Great Falls starting February 20th, serving eight communities on the I-15 corridor north of Butte that have been without service since last summer.

Missoula to Whitefish Service Launched by Salish Kootenai Tribes

In mid-December, Flathead Transit began operating an intercity route providing connections to Greyhound in Missoula, Amtrak in Whitefish, and local and regional services in Missoula and Kalispell. The route operates seven days a week, serving eight communities between Missoula and Whitefish. Ronan will be added as a ninth community if a business can be found to host a stop. The information in this update is from a December 10, 2013 article in the Missoulian announcing the new service.

Highlights of the new service:

  • This returns service to a corridor previously served by Rimrock Trailways between Missoula and the Flathead Valley.
  • Flathead Transit is a service of the Confederated and Salish Kootenai Tribes, and this is the first time Greyhound has collaborated with an Indian tribe to offer bus service.
  • The route is being funded using federal funds ($204,688) administered through the Montana Department of Transportation, and funding from Greyhound ($133,934). No state or local funds are being used.
  • A 17-passenger cutaway bus from Flathead Transit’s existing fleet is being used.

Schedule:

Missoula to Whitefish – Missoula 11:30 a.m. – Evaro 11:50 a.m. – Arlee 12:00 p.m. – Ravalli 12:10 p.m. – St. Ignatius 12:15 p.m. – Pablo 1 p.m. – Polson 1:25 p.m. – Lakeside 2:10 p.m. – Kalispell 2:30 p.m. – Whitefish 3:10 p.m.

Whitefish to Missoula – Whitefish 4:45 p.m. – Kalispell 5:25 p.m. – Lakeside 5:45 p.m. – Polson 6:30 p.m. – Pablo 6:40 p.m. – St. Ignatius 7:40 p.m. – Ravalli 7:45 p.m. – Arlee 7:55 p.m. – Evaro 8:05 p.m. – Missoula 8:25 p.m.

Tickets:

A one-way ticket between Missoula and Whitefish costs $31. Tickets cost less for shorter trips – a one-way ticket between Missoula and Polson costs $19.

Tickets can be purchased at the Greyhound Terminal in Missoula, Stuart’s Cenex in St. Ignatius, Quick Silver in Pablo, Kwa Taq Nuk Resort in Polson; and Brian’s Conoco in Kalispell. Tickets can also be purchased online from Greyhound’s website, and from any Greyhound selling locations nationwide.

Recent service in Montana and North Dakota

I have been asked to share a description of services that Montana had prior to March 26, 2013. I pulled this map from Rimrock’s website. The map is not totally accurate. The corridor shown in red had two round trips per day through Butte, and one from Bozeman-Three Forks-Townsend-Helena-Drummond-Missoula.

In combination, intercity providers usually operate on the following corridors that start or pass through Montana:

  • The corridor between Missoula and Billings usually is served with three round trips a day. Two round trips run on I-90 through Butte. The third round trip passes through Helena. Two of the three routes are currently being operated by Jefferson Lines
  • Greyhound operates two round trips connecting Missoula to Seattle.
  • Jefferson Lines runs one round trips a day between Billings and Fargo, snaking between I-94 and US 2 through Miles City, Glendive, Sidney, Williston, Bismarck, and Fargo.
  • There currently is no intercity service on US 93 between Missoula and Whitefish
  • Usually an intercity operator will run one round trip a day on I-15 between Butte and Great Falls, and a second round trip between Great Falls and Helena with timed connections to Missoula, Bozeman, Billings, and points beyond. These routes are no longer in service.
  • North Central Transit travels between Fort Belknap and Great Falls via Havre on Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Northern Transit Interlocal runs one round trip a day between Shelby and Kalispell on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
  • Northern Transit Interlocal operates two round trips a day between Shelby and Great Falls on Monday and Thursday
  • Salt Lake Express runs two round trips a day on I-15 between Butte and Salt Lake City via Idaho Falls
  • Arrow/Black Hills Stage Lines runs twice a day between Billings and Denver. One route runs through Lovell. The other route runs through Sheridan, Wyoming.
  • This Amtrak schedule operates on the Highline across northern Montana and North Dakota.

Greyhound, Salt Lake Express, Arrow/Black Hills Stage Lines, and Jefferson operate 365 days a year and are interlined. Rimrock’s old schedules are listed below.

Tickets can be purchased at the bus depot

Good to know you can buy your ticket at the bus depot prior to boarding the bus. What’s more, these local guys can book you onto any bus in the country that is part of the interlined network. They are not restricted to selling for one company or another.

I’ve heard that the local agents have gone above and beyond this week and deserve a big thank you. Many of them are independent contractors.

Information about Jefferson Lines new route connecting Billings to Missoula

Here is the press release from Jefferson Lines

Jefferson Lines Expands Montana Service

 Billings, MT – On Saturday, March 30th, Jefferson Lines Bus Company will launch new routes connecting Billings and Missoula, Montana. Jefferson will also be extending its Glendive run from Fargo on into Billings. The routes will include daily service in either direction between the two cities, and will facilitate Jefferson Lines adding bus service to several other Montana communities, including Livingston, Bozeman, and Butte.  “We are excited to extend Jefferson Lines’ trademark comfortable ride and quality customer service to these communities,” said Kevin Pursey, Jefferson Lines Director of Marketing and Culture. “This is going to be a real benefit to passengers in the northwest states of Washington, Idaho and Wyoming as well as those passengers going east to North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and on into Chicago.”

From the new service areas in Montana, Jefferson Lines will continue to connect with existing intercity bus networks like Greyhound and Arrow Stage Lines. This will make it more convenient for passengers to travel the area and points beyond.

Jefferson Lines is a family-owned company founded in 1919 that is currently being run by the third generation to actively manage the business. The company is a member of the American Bus Association, United Motorcoach Association, National Tour Association and many other local visitor associations and chambers of commerce.

Schedule and fare information is available at www.jeffersonlines.com or call toll free 800-451-5333.

About Jefferson Lines

Founded in 1919 in Minneapolis, Jefferson has maintained its position as a leader in providing transportation throughout the Midwest. Jefferson Lines provides intercity bus service to thirteen states, serving more than 160 communities nationwide. Jefferson Lines provides direct connections to thousands of destinations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.