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Regional Coordination Project for Lake, Mineral and Sanders Counties

Project #: 4W4463
Start Date: 06/01/2013
End Date: 12/31/2013
Status: Completed

The final report summarizes efforts to identify potential cost-effective alternatives to private automobile travel in Lake, Mineral, and Sanders Counties. As of this report, there are currently six organizations in these three counties that provide transportation services. The current transportation providers and other regional stakeholders have a strong interest in providing quality public transportation services. The Western Transportation Institute (WTI) identified and analyzed alternatives related to improved coordination of transportation among the current providers. WTI also facilitated meetings among stakeholders to discuss potential implementation of these alternatives. This project yielded numerous benefits:
• Identification of existing resources available for transportation services, including vehicles, staff, and funding.
• Identification of viable alternatives to enhance transportation coordination in three categories: communication, cooperation, and consolidation. The alternatives require varying levels of time, complexity, and resources, ranging from initiatives as simple as email notifications of scheduled trips to more comprehensive initiatives such as consolidated services.
• Creation of a forum for coordination. The meetings brought together regional stakeholders to identify needs, discuss available resources, and evaluate alternatives. The meetings helped establish and/or strengthen working relationships among potential partners. The forum could serve as the structural basis for ongoing interagency collaboration and coordination.
• Development of a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU): Initially, Mineral County Pioneer Council, Inc. and Mineral County Hospital and Regional Medical Center agreed to sign an MOU for consolidating transportation services. However, the hospital decided to opt out of the public transportation business. Thus, the MOU development process did not move forward.


Frontier areas of Montana face many challenges, including transportation within, and to small communities (towns), as well as transportation to larger communities. People living and traveling in frontier areas need reliable transportation for a variety of purposes, including employment and educational opportunities, as well as for medical, recreation and other “life” purposes.

Lake, Mineral, and Sanders Counties in western Montana generally fit into the definition of a rural area and have similar transportation issues. The goal of this technical assistance project, which was conducted by the Western Transportation Institute in cooperation with the Montana Department of Transportation and other stakeholders, was to assess public transportation (transit) providers and specialized transportation providers’ cooperation, coordination, and cooperation efforts in these counties.

The purpose of the assessment was to determine if there were any opportunities to increase the efficiency of the services through coordination so that more rides could be provided. The research team collected and analyzed necessary information so that coordination alternatives could be developed and considered. This included interviewing stakeholders, reviewing data, and preparing recommendations.


The objective of this research was to assess public transportation (transit) providers and specialized transportation providers’ cooperation, coordination, and cooperation efforts in Lake, Mineral, and Sanders Counties in Montana.


  • David Kack
    David Kack