Valley Journal
Valley Journal

This Week’s e-Edition

Current Events

Latest Headlines

What's New?

Send us your news items.

NOTE: All submissions are subject to our Submission Guidelines.

Announcement Forms

Use these forms to send us announcements.

Birth Announcement

Tribal bus system offers affordable rides in 4 counties

Hey savvy news reader! Thanks for choosing local. You are now reading
1 of 3 free articles.

Subscribe now to stay in the know!

Already a subscriber? Login now

Do you have eight quarters, 20 dimes or 40 nickels? For just a handful of change, you can take the Department of Human Resources Development van anywhere in Lake County. 

Twelve years ago, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes opened a bus system with only two 13-passenger buses. It is now one of the largest in Montana, offering nearly 50,000 annual rides on 18 buses.  The buses travel more than 650,000 miles through four counties each year. 

Transportation manager Corky Sias said there have been quite a few upgrades to the system as of late. 

“We just updated the radio system and added 18 new bus stops reservation wide last year, including four in Ronan,” Sias said. 

The tribe plans to add another five stops in the months to come. A new mechanic shop and bus barn were built last year, and an all-new dispatch system featuring iPads is soon to follow. Sias said the new dispatch system will save the tribe quite a bit of time and money in the long run, as it allows bus drivers to see other driver’s locations, destinations and number of passengers. 

Bus driver and dispatch worker Leroy Black Jr. has been driving for one year. Black’s favorite part of the job is helping and meeting different people. 

“I coordinated rides for one man for three years before we met face-to-face,” Black said. 

With 48 hours notice, bus passengers can ride to Missoula and Kalispell for the same price: $2. Anyone on any state or federal aid, like Medicare and Medicaid, as well as individuals 62 and older, can ride for free. 

Mechanic Bob Graham started working for the bus system nearly five years ago, and agreed his favorite part of the job is the people.

“Everyone is great here; you couldn’t ask for more,” he said.

Sponsored by: