When I went to The University of Montana for freshman orientation in the summer of 2006, I received my very first Griz Card — the student ID that would later be confiscated by the Grizzly Pool when I lent it to a male friend who had misplaced his (that’s another story for another day).

Anyway, one of the perks of being a student at UM is that you can use your Griz Card to ride any Mountain Line Bus free of charge. I thought this was really, really cool, especially since I was trying to keep the fact that I had a car on the down low to avoid becoming the unofficial Miller Hall taxi driver.

Shortly after I arrived for school that fall, I spread out the route map on my dorm room floor and tried to figure out how to get to the mall. Unfortunately, I was too cartographically challenged to decipher the maze of colorful dots and squiggly lines. I gave up about 10 minutes later and decided that taking my dorm mates to the movie theater every now and then wouldn’t be so bad.

In hindsight, I probably should have spent more time with that map.

Fast forward six years: the price of gas is going through the roof, and I live far enough away from my office for it to put a pretty big dent in my monthly budget. There is a bus stop nearby, but with all of the stops between my starting and ending point, it would take almost 50 minutes to get to work — which to me, makes it worth it to drive. But if things keep going the way they are now, I might soon be forced to leave my car in the garage.

With new route alternatives recently proposed by Mountain Line, however, my potential bus commute could potentially be shortened. The bus company has put together several proposals for route changes, most of them focused on improving transportation in high-traffic areas such as downtown and the University area.

The company will hold three interactive workshops this week to collect public input on the proposed alternatives, the first of which will take place at 12 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, in the University Center Theatre. The second will be at the Western Montana Fairgrounds from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday evening. The final workshop will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the downtown Holiday Inn.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.