The first year of Missoula’s experiment with a zero-fare bus system has led to a dramatic jump in ridership.

"Our ridership is up over 38 percent since January of last year," said Mountain Line Spokesman Bill Pfeiffer. "We've seen over 300,000 additional rides this year. This is our first calendar year that we've broken a million rides. We've also had over 100,000 rides every month except for January and August."

Pfeiffer says that Mountain Line had never had a single month with 100,000 riders before 2015 and that Mountain Line is already more than three quarters of the way to its three year goal.

"Our goal over the three years of the demonstration project is to increase to 400,000 additional rides, about a 40 percent increase over the three years. So we are thrilled that in just the first year we are most of the way toward that goal."

The zero-fare program was made possible with 460,000 dollars that was donated by 14 groups, including the University of Montana, ASUM, the City and County of Missoula, Missoula Metropolitan Planing Corporation, Missoula Downtown Association, Homeword Incorporated, Missoula’s two hospitals, Missoula County Public Schools, Missoula Aging Services, The Missoulian, Missoula Parking Commission, Missoula, and Southgate Mall.