We can benefit from public transportation in Ravalli County

Public transportation provides freedom, mobility, opportunity, and choice. Across the nation, more than 14 million people choose to ride public transportation every day. By doing so, they’re able to do the things they want and need to do, like shopping, visiting the library, going to medical appointments, volunteering in the community, or running errands.

By MARY MILLIN For the Ravalli Republic

And when people have the opportunity to do the things that better their lives, the whole community thrives. Public transportation reduces traffic congestion, reduces air pollution, decreases the dependency on foreign oil, stimulates the economy, creates jobs, and yields safer roads. Wouldn’t it be advantageous to reduce traffic on U.S. 93?

I believe Montanans have become dependent on automobiles simply because public transportation has not been made available. Yet wouldn’t it be nice for all of us to have a choice? I have talked to people who, at times, would prefer to ride rather than drive. Many people love the independence a public transportation system provides, free from all the hassles of driving in traffic, free from the frustration of finding a parking place, free from the tension of driving on snow or ice, and free to hop from here to there without having to warm up their own vehicle between hops.

Are you aware that Ravalli County Transit serves the public, not just seniors and people with disabilities? I am a rider of Ravalli County Transit. I shop in Hamilton, I volunteer in the community, and I am able to participate in many community activities because of the transit system. I have been legally blind since the age of 16. I have lived in a city where an established transportation system existed, so I know first hand how a public transit system benefits a community.

Living here in the Bitterroot for the past 30 years, I have witnessed the slow evolution of public transit, with Mountain Line in Missoula, and Ravalli County Transit here in Hamilton. Just because we enjoy living in a rural setting doesn’t mean we have to live without modern conveniences. Public transportation provides everyone with a choice. With a system in place, you could actually choose to ride, rather than drive, whether or not you are transportation dependent.

For me, it is very exciting to be a part of the expansion plans for the new transit system. As a new member of the Ravalli County Transportation Advisory Committee, I am currently involved in the design and implementation of a city bus route for Hamilton. Specialists have been consulted and grants are being written.

In the very near future, a fixed bus route for the city of Hamilton will become a reality. A pending dilemma is a name for our community transit system. Do you have any suggestions? The Ravalli County Transportation Advisory Committee welcomes any ideas, comments or suggestions you may have.

Mary Millin is a Peer Advocate at Summit Independent Living Center. Summit is a nonprofit, nonresidential program that coordinates benefits and services to assist people with disabilities remain independent in their own homes. Summit is a member of Healthy Families and presides as chair of the Ravalli County Transportation Advisory Committee, for more information call 363-5242 or 363-2296 or e-mail at .

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