STREAMLINE HITS 2 MILLIONTH RIDER MARK
Streamline’s ridership is increasing. It took five years and three months for the system to reach the million-rider mark, but only another three years and three months to serve the second million. Streamline’s buses provided about 330,000 rides last year. See the 2 millionth rider!
By Eric Dietrich, Chronicle Staff Writer
A crowd gathered outside Montana State University’s Strand Union Building to mark a milestone for Bozeman’s Streamline bus system Tuesday morning, greeting arrivals with balloons and cookies.
For the backpack-clad students who trooped off the Yellow Line bus shortly after 9:15 a.m., though, it was business as usual.
David Kack, a Western Transportation Institute staffer who manages the public transportation program, clicked away with a handheld counter as the students debarked, then pulled aside a young man wearing a Bobcat ball cap and a Carhart hoodie — Streamline’s 2-millionth rider.
The student, it turned out, wasn’t interested in sticking around to chat. Offered a gift basket, he grabbed a blue and gold umbrella and fled into the SUB before he could be mobbed by the local press.
Kack and the other officials assembled — representing MSU’s student government, the Human Resource Development Council and the city of Bozeman — took it in stride.
Streamline’s ridership is increasing. It took five years and three months for the system to reach the million-rider mark, Kack said, but only another three years and three months to serve the second million. Streamline’s buses provided about 330,000 rides last year.
He still has old Chronicle letters to the editor arguing, “it would never work,” he adds.
Given Bozeman’s continuing growth, Kack said he sees the service as playing an important part in helping address street capacity challenges.
“You can’t build your way out of traffic congestion,” he said.
“We are taking cars off the street,” he adds, noting surveys indicate 40 percent of Streamline’s users own a vehicle.
Hannah Wilson, a history and economics student — who proudly noted she was rider number 2,000,002 — said it’s apparent from riding the bus just how much value it provides to the community.
“It’s always full,” she said, saying she rides the bus almost daily to get to campus from her apartment in the university’s family-graduate housing complex.
“It’s like the closest thing to teleporting from Peter Koch Tower to the Strand Union Building,” Wilson said.
Kack added that he hopes to see the service continue to expand in the coming years, increasing bus frequency and adding routes to serve more of south and northwest Bozeman.
“It takes money,” he said.
The service costs about $1.5 million a year to operate, according to numbers provided by HRDC. Of that, about $1 million comes from federal transportation funds, complemented by $132,000 from fees levied by MSU’s student government and smaller contributions from the MSU administration and the cities of Bozeman and Belgrade.
Photography: Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez, Bozeman Daily Chronicle