Business leaders support Mountain Line mill levy request

Hey, check out this awesome guest opinion that appeared in today's Missoulian!  Written by Missoula Downtown Association's President, Todd Frank, and General Manager of Southgate Mall, Tim Winger, the article focuses on all the great reasons why Mountain Line is good for Missoula's businesses and community. A successful mill levy means that Missoula will have late evening and more frequent bus service. Share this with your friends and don't forget to vote FOR the mill levy and Missoula's future.

Business leaders support Mountain Line mill levy request

Guest column by TODD FRANK and TIM WINGER

As community leaders involved in making Missoula businesses successful and our community prosperous, we believe that the overall health of our community directly affects the bottom line – for everyone. That’s why we’re joining together in support of the proposed mill levy increase for Mountain Line bus services. A comprehensive transportation system is vital to community health – one that effectively accommodates multiple ways of getting around, from bikes to buses, cars to feet. Everything needs to work seamlessly to keep people moving and our economy growing.

Like Missoula, Mountain Line has “grown up” since its start more than 35 years ago. In 1977, when bus fare was just

25 cents, Mountain Line buses could give you a ride along three different routes. Within a year, six more routes were added. Today Mountain Line operates 12 different routes, taking people to work, students to school, and senior citizens and disabled people to places they can’t get to any other way. The familiar, teal-colored buses provide almost 1 million rides annually. All of that traveling not only drives Missoula’s economy, but contributes to Missoula’s exceptional quality of life. In a word, Mountain Line is essential and benefits us all.

A 2012 Montana Department of Transportation economic analysis of Mountain Line showed that without the local bus agency, Missoula income would be reduced by $2.4 million, goods and services would drop by $2.3 million, and the area economy would have

63 fewer jobs. In short, public transportation investments boost wages and economic productivity.

What is more, wherever there is public transit, there tend to be opportunities for work. A recent American Public Transportation Association study shows that jobs cluster around neighborhoods with high-frequency public transportation. The study found that in some areas with frequent buses there are as many as 500 percent more jobs per square mile compared to nearby areas without high-frequency public transportation.

Missoulians will have an opportunity to increase the quantity of high-frequency transportation in Missoula by voting for the proposed mill levy increase for Mountain Line in the mail-ballot election this November (with mailed ballots going out Oct. 22). The proposed mill levy will provide funds to transform Route 2 to a Bolt! high-frequency route, with a 15-minute maximum wait time. The route connects downtown Missoula, Southgate Mall and Target, and will interchange with Missoula’s first Bolt! line, Route 1, which serves the downtown, the university and Southgate Mall.

The increased mill levy will prevent future cuts in service and fund additional services to the highly popular and much needed senior and paratransit van services, which serve people with disabilities and our oldest residents. And it will fund extended bus services until nearly 10 p.m. for Mountain Line’s four most-used routes, providing a nighttime service for the first time.

The big bonus? Every dollar Missoula invests in transit is matched by federal transportation dollars. Those dollars would go to other communities without our local support.

Anyone who goes into business puts hard-earned money and time into transforming an idea into a successful reality, providing goods and services and serving customers and clients.

Missoula voters are being asked to do something similar. Mountain Line hasn’t requested an increase in its mill levy in more than

35 years. Now is the time for our community to further invest in our transit system – a system that started as a good idea. We need to make sure it continues to meet current demand and also works even better as Missoula grows.

Mountain Line benefits everyone and funding the mill levy increase is essential to its continued fine service. Dollars spent for Mountain Line reduce vehicle miles traveled, improve local air quality, reduce congestion, and help to eliminate parking headaches for visitors and locals alike.

Missoula voters have the opportunity and responsibility to vote for the mill levy to support Mountain Line. Having a strong public transit system for all is at the heart of what makes a good community truly great. And you benefit whether you ride bus or not.

We urge Missoula voters to vote for our bus and Missoula’s future.

Todd Frank is president of the Missoula Downtown Association and owner of The Trail Head. Tim Winger is the general manager of Southgate Mall. Both MDA and Southgate Mall support the Mountain Line levy request.

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/business-leaders-support-mountain-line-mill-levy-request/article_5b4557b4-3665-11e3-a5f3-0019bb2963f4.html 

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John Engen, Treasurer ● PO Box 484 ● Missoula, MT 59806
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