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Montana Intercity Bus Service Study

Project #: 4W3400
Start Date: 11/01/2010
End Date: 08/31/2011
Status: Completed

As described in the final report, the research team conducted an extensive literature review of intercity bus service studies in other states. Following that, a survey of peer states, with characteristics similar to Montana’s rural/frontier nature was performed to understand funding practices and perceive barriers of intercity bus service. Two additional surveys were distributed to intercity bus riders and the general public in Montana to provide insight into the use of intercity bus services and the attitudes toward the services. The research team then examined the connectivity of current intercity bus services with local public transportation providers in Montana, as well as other transportation modes. In addition, a survey of local transit agencies in Montana was conducted. The results from the network connectivity analysis and the survey were used
as a basis to help define “meaningful connections” for intercity bus services in Montana. Finally, this research provided a methodology that can be used by MDT to determine intercity bus service needs are being adequately met. The methodology consists of an annual process to support existing intercity bus services and a triennial process to determine if there is the need for new services.


Intercity bus service is an integral part of a larger transportation network that provides smaller communities with access to larger communities and connections to other transportation services. Intercity bus service has been funded through the federal surface transportation bill since 1991, and federal guidelines require that states must have a process to determine if service needs are being met. Intercity bus systems currently face numerous challenges, including limited funding and a decline in routes and ridership. In Montana, additional challenges include a high use of personal vehicles in rural areas; low population densities which are not conducive for public transportation; and a lack of coordination between local transit and intercity bus services. This project will provide the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) with an assessment of the current need for intercity bus services in the state, a review of available services, and an analysis of how well needs are being met. Researchers will identify any gaps and overlaps in services, as well as the associated costs or potential savings. They will also document barriers that hinder intercity bus service, and best practices and actions to improve and increase its use in Montana. WTI will also develop and provide MDT with the structured methodology used in this project, so that MDT can conduct future assessments of intercity bus service as needed.


The goal of this project is to provide the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) with an assessment of current intercity bus services within the state, and a methodology for determining future needs.


  • David Kack
    David Kack