It will take about 5 years for Mountain Line to bring its new operations center online in Missoula. But when it is up and running it will mark the transit system's complete conversion away from diesel over to electric buses.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced last week that Mountain Line is being awarded more than $ 39 million to pay for the new Maintenance and Operation Base. It's a major upgrade for the Missoula Urban Transportation District since the buses started rolling in Missoula nearly 50 years ago.

"I couldn't be more excited. I think I'm more excited about this win for us and being selected as a transit system of the year for North America." - Mountain Line CEO and General Manager Corey Aldridge

A long time in the idea stage

"This is something that we've been working on for at least the last five years," Aldridge told me this week. "We knew we needed a space. We've been out of space for a long time, you know, to the point that we're parking vehicles and our bus wash bays, our electric chargers main units are also in that same Bay, which is not ideal."

The current site on Missoula's North Side is only two acres. Aldridge says they need a new location closer to 10 acres to meet current, and future growth.

"We have very efficient usage of our space. We've been storing vehicles over at the city Public Works lot. We have 'hot desks' built into our conference rooms so that people can work a hybrid schedule. Just trying to make the best use we can of the space that we do have."

Photos courtesy Mountain Line
Photos courtesy Mountain Line

Several years to plan and build

Aldridge says it will take about 5 years to find a location for the new operations center, finish the design, and complete construction.

"We don't have the location solidified yet. We're looking at this as about a 5-ish year project. That's our anticipated timeline."

The new facility will be completely state-of-the-art. And completely free of diesel fumes in keeping with Mountain Line's goals to be "zero emission" by 2035.

"Our goal and plan with this new facility is to be all-electric. We will not have any fossil fuels on site." 

Missoula Businesses Where You'll Feel Like Family

Whether you're visiting or living in Missoula, you want to go where you'll feel welcome. There are the places that Missoulians recommend to go to feel like you're family.

More From Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM & 98.3 FM