County receives new citizen bus

Christmas came early with the county receiving a new transit service bus.

Commissioner Janice Hoppes tells the I-O, “We became part of the Golden Triangle Transit service in December of 2012.”

The Golden Triangle Transit is located in Shelby and coordinates the services of the Northern Transit Interlocal, Pondera, Toole and Glacier county transit.

The Pondera County bus was ordered and Sandy Syvertson was hired by the county to be the driver.

From 2012 until now, the county has used the smaller Council on Aging bus to transport citizens to the transfer center in Shelby for continued travel to either Great Falls or Kalispell.

The new 17 passenger bus for Pondera County was purchased by the Golden Triangle Transit using grant funds from the Montana Department of Transportation. Pondera County had to pay the grant matching funds of $8,716.83. The new bus was delivered to Conrad on Nov. 7 and will be in service beginning the week of Nov. 11.

“The county paid the Interlocal an initial fee of $20,000 to get them up and running with the Interlocal, with the understanding that any monies remaining would apply to the operational costs of our program,” said Hoppes.

The counties pay the set up and operational costs to the Golden Triangle Transit system which then reimburses the counties for expenses directly paid by the county for wages, gas and maintenance.

Syvertson will pick up the Pondera County riders on Mondays for connection to the Transit system bus heading to Great Falls. On Tuesday, the county bus takes riders to the Transit Center to continue on to Kalispell and then on Thursdays, the connection is again to Great Falls.

The bus stops at the Transit Center, and in Kalispell at the Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

Once in Great Falls or Kalispell, the individuals arrange for their own transportation around the cities whether by the cities’ transit buses, taxis or friends.

The primary stops are convenient for those having doctor appointments. However, any citizen can ride the bus, for free, for any reason.