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'Without this, I couldn't get around': Carbon County nonprofit helping Montanans run errands

CART Service
Posted at 5:18 PM, Mar 28, 2024

BRIDGER - A Carbon County nonprofit is looking for more money to help run their program, which helps elderly Montanans run errands around the state.

The program, called Carbon County Area Ride and Transit (CART), has existed for three years, and gives Carbon County residents rides for medical appointments, grocery shopping and other stops. Typically, these rides are from their homes in Carbon County with destinations as far away as Billings.

Navy veteran and Bridger resident Richard Mundt is among those who have used the service, which is funded through donations and not taxpayer dollars, in the past three years.

"Without this, I couldn't get around," Mundt said Thursday afternoon after receiving a ride to Billings. "All I've got to do is basically call and if it fits with their schedule. They stick it in."

Mundt needed a ride to the DMV to renew his license Thursday, and he said he knows many others like him who need the service.

"I've used it many times in the last three years," Mundt said with a laugh. "Probably two or three times a month. And I know lots of others that struggle to get around as well."

Red Lodge resident Deb Morgan used CART for a ride to her dentist appointment in Billings on Thursday. She hit a deer and totaled her car and said the option has become critical for her in the last month.

"It is very convenient and I don't know what I would have done otherwise," Morgan said. "It's a godsend to be honest with you."

Morgan said it helps make these long drives less stressful, especially in Montana when the road conditions can be unpredictable.

"It's really helpful," Morgan said. "In Red Lodge, it snows a lot and the roads are icy. You just never know."

CART driver Mike Taylor spends many hours shuttling people around the state. He said it's a fulfilling job that helps people like Mundt and Morgan get to where they need to be safely.

"A lot of the visits are going to Billings for either shopping, but mostly medical stuff or medical issues," Taylor said during his drive Thursday. "It's a cool job because I think it helps these people have human interaction, which they otherwise wouldn't have."

CART Transportation Manager David Kallenbach said the rides their service offers are essential.

"Over 5,000 rides a year, so that's 2,800 people that have used it," Kallenbach said. "Usually about 400 rides a month. It's important, especially in these rural communities."

That significance has been felt by Red Lodge Area Community Foundation Director Traci Timmons, and that's why their foundation is helping raise money for the program to help keep rides affordable.

"We haven't quite found the financial stability that we need on that, so we're raising money for that right now so people can get to where they need to go," Timmons said.

She said the organization is collecting donations and that anything helps. Currently, the rides are free for customers, but there's a possibility that small charges could be added if not enough money are raised.

It's a small service, but one that hopes to continue making a huge impact.

"They've done a lot for me," Mundt said. "I wouldn't be able to get around without them."