Lowe takes over as local transit director


November 3, 2017

Havre Daily News/Floyd Brandt

North Central Montana Transit Director Tom Lowe poses Thursday by one of the system's buses.

Tom Lowe started driving buses for the North Central Montana Transit in 2012 as a way to occupy his retired life, and two weeks ago he became the new director of the region's transit system.

Lowe is a native Havreite who moved back in 2009 after retiring from years working for BNSF Railway. In 2012, he took a part-time job with North Central Montana Transit as "a reason to get up in the morning," he said, and he took the wheel as director after the former director, Jim Lyons, retired.

Opportunity Link Inc., the poverty reduction organization that helped create and oversees the transit system, said in a statement, "Tom has proven to provide fine service to the Hi-Line and beyond as NCMT strives to provide quality transportation for those in the community and surround areas. ... Tom is enthusiastic to jump in to work again for the public."

"I've always enjoyed the people that ride with us," Lowe said Thursday, adding that his new position may entail some driving when drivers are scarce.

The transit system carries about 20,000 passengers a year, Lowe said, with an average of 70 to 80 a day. It has five buses that make possible two daily routes to and from Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and two to and from Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. Routes also run throughout Havre on weekdays and from Fort Belknap through Havre and Box Elder to Great Falls and back Tuesdays and Thursdays.

One-way trips to Rocky Boy, Havre, and Fort Belknap cost $1 and the Great Falls service is $10 one way, $20 for a round trip. Twenty-dollar punch card passes are available for purchase from bus drivers.

In addition to increasing ridership, Lowe said, further new plans have been unveiled and recently implemented. North Central Montana Transit has partnered with the public libraries in Havre, Chinook and Harlem to carry books back and forth between the libraries as citizens request books that are available but need to be transported from another library.

"They'll meet us at the bus stop and give us a bag of books," Lowe said.

Buses roll Mondays through Fridays, but there have been times when they've added to their routine routes, such as for Living History and the system was driving passengers in a route to the area's tourist attractions.

Lowe said they are experimenting with other regular routes and always working on improving.

"We've proved reliable, safe, on-time service," Lowe said.


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