Mountain Line officials began researching the possibility of a zero-fare service after requests from the Missoula community. Mayor John Engen supports the effort, though funding for a zero-fare program is not currently in the 2015 fiscal year budget.

"It would cost about $400,000 a year to move to a zero fare," Engen said. "That would get about 40 percent more folks riding the bus. We think that's a pretty sound investment. So, if our property tax base grows in a way that makes sense we would like to help fund that zero-fare program."

NBC Montana said Mountain Line officials stress two things though. They said they won't be raising taxes in order to pay for free buses, and that the money generated from a $1.7 million levy passed in November won't be going to free buses either. Those funds will go to expanded bus services and more vehicles on the road.

Mountain Line General Manager Michael Tree said a scenario that might play out in the future would be partners coming together to help fund the fair-free system, though he's not sure who those might be at the moment. He said examples could be downtown businesses, or the University of Montana.