Havre Daily News - News you can use

Havre bus system is a great idea


November 11, 2013

You’ve probably been in a similar situation.

I drove to Great Falls for a day a year or two back.

With my gas tank near empty, I drove to a gas station to fill up the tank.

I reached for my wallet. Oops. I suddenly remember leaving it on my dresser that morning.

There I was in Great Falls. No identification. No driver license. No money. No one could wire me money since I had no ID.

How does one get back to Havre in such a predicament?

Fortunately, it was a day that North Central Montana Transit was running.

I drove over to Benefis Medical Center, hopped on the bus and headed back to Havre.

That was my first direct contact with North Central Montana Transit. All of the good things I had heard about the operation turned out to be true.

The bus was packed. The people were friendly. The driver was courteous — and funny.

When I got to Havre, the driver went out of his way to drive me to the office.

I was one of many happy transit system users.

The system brings passengers from Fort Belknap, Harlem and Chinook into Havre, and brings people from Havre to Great Falls.

Once in Havre, passengers are taken to key shopping, entertainment and medical facilities.

It‘s been good for the passengers and good for the businesses and medical facilities.

Now, the transit system is looking at the possibility of an intra-city route — a bus service that would take people from one part of Havre to another. Operators of the system are trying to find out if there is public interest in such a system. I’m only 1/9,300th of the Havre public, but I think it’s a great ideas, and I hope the hard-working people at Opportunity Link Inc., the brainchild behind the system, can come up with a way to fund such a tremendous idea.

Havre, like most cities, has an aging problem, and as us baby boomers grow older, we will be looking for ways to get around town without having to drive.

But there is a much larger audience for such a bus system.

If your car is in the shop, if your spouse has the car, if it snowed out and you are weary of driving .... and the list goes on, you might just want to get on the bus and let the transit system do the driving for you.

The bus service would be a convenience for many and an absolute necessity for some. For some older people, such a system would enable them to stay in their homes longer.

The present system relies in part on federal subsidies. Local governments and Montana State University-Northern have contributed to the operation.

Spare me the argument that the Hi-Line should not be depending on the federal government to make life better for our residents. Providing essential services to the public is one of the main reasons we have a government.

Local governments are strapped for funds, but we hope that if they are asked for funds to help out, they will be willing to chip in.

The bus service will be a tremendous advantage to Havre people.

We hope the transit system can make this work.

(John Kelleher is editor of the Havre Daily News.)


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