HELENA – Residents may notice something new on Helena’s streets this week. Capital Transit, the city’s public bus service, introduced its newest bus.
The 27-seat bus officially went into service on Thursday. It travels along the Red Route, which runs from Target, south through downtown, then east to the Capitol area and St. Peter’s Health.
“It goes through the State Capitol and goes through some larger retail areas and covers the hospital,” said Capital Transit supervisor Elroy Golemon. “It’s places where people are going more frequently, so that was the logical choice, to get it there.”
The bus replaces an older one that could hold around 18 passengers. Leaders say it provides easier access for people with disabilities and is better able to make difficult turns.
“It’s got a great ride,” said Golemon. “The passengers seem to enjoy it; I know the drivers are impressed with it.”
Capital Transit leaders also hope the new bus will attract the public’s attention, since it looks more like a traditional urban bus.
“It’s a very important element to it, because it gives people the sense that there is an actual transit system in operation,” he said.
The new bus cost around $250,000. Golemon said most of that money came from the state, but the city of Helena paid about $40,000 in a local match. He said the old bus could be kept as a backup or declared surplus property.
Capital Transit plans to add another 27-seat bus late this year or early next year, to serve the Blue Route between Walmart and Helena’s West Side. Golemon said that bus is already under construction. The service will also add new 12-seat buses, to replace their current paratransit buses.
You can find Capital Transit’s full routes and schedules at their website, ridethecapitalt.org.