It seems North Central Montana Transit’s buses are so popular, people are even willing to pay to ride them.
Back in April the transit system started charging a $1 fare for the Blue and Red lines, that run from Box Elder/Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation to Havre and from Fort Belknap Indian Reservation to Havre respectively.
According to Jim Lyons, NCMT director, the new fares have had no effect on the amount of people using the system.
“It’s been positively wonderful, ” Lyons said. “The numbers have stayed right where they were before. ”
He said he had just been reviewing numbers for the stretch from January through the end of May for 2010 with 2011, and both of those periods had identical ridership, to a single rider, 7,611.
One of those riders, Laurie Stiffarm, said she uses the buses about twice a month to get from Fort Belknap to Rocky Boy.
Stiffarm said she didn’t mind the fare and that it had not affected her ridership in the past two months.
“I think it’s a good deal compared to gas prices these days, ” Stiffarm said.
In fact those gas prices were one of the main factors in the transit system looking at adopting fees in the first place.
“We realized in our planning process that the price of fuel is going up and our operating costs were going up with that, ” Lyons said. “We want to keep the system available and running.
“(The fare) provides a revenue source that we didn’t have before. ”
Lyons said that the plan to introduce fares would also help keep buses running if other sources of funding were to see cutbacks.