GALLATIN COUNTY — The streamline bus service started 13 years ago to the day.
But Bozeman and the surrounding area have grown significantly since then, and current routes are not keeping up with the growth and dispersion.
"There is growth outward and certainly that can be seen on the west side of town and the northwest side of town and those are areas we are not serving," said Sunshine Ross, Transportation Director at HRDC.
"The new high school will be out there and we don’t currently have a route that goes to it. But that will be necessary to serve that population as well."
The Montana Department of Transportation, city of Bozeman and Gallatin County have all chipped in to pay for a consultant to perform a study that will help redesign the bus routes in Gallatin Valley.
"What we’re asking the consultant to do is come in and show us how we can better serve the community with the funding sources we have now, and what it would look like if we had additional funding sources and then also help identify what some of those funding sources might be," said Ross.
The Streamline bus service hopes to have a consultant lined up by September.
"We’re seeing that the study could really help grab the data they need to inform the public about an urban transit district," said Gallatin County Commissioner Joe Skinner.
An Urban Transit District can be adopted by voters, and would create sustainable funding tied to property taxes, and would affect only those who have access to the bus service.
"Instead of going to the city and the county and the university every year and begging for money, to keep the bus system going, they’d actually have a district which would be funded and would be a reliable source of income and budgeting for the district and for the bus system," said Skinner.
Part of the consultant’s process will be gathering public comment from different communities in the area. Their work is expected to carry on until next summer.