On behalf of Human Resource Development Council, our partners, volunteers and customers, I want to thank the editorial board for their support over the years. Your words have helped highlight pressing community challenges and supported our work, including our Fork and Spoon, Warming Center and Gallatin Valley Food Bank programs.

I want to take this opportunity to address some common misconceptions surrounding our pending transportation study. As reported in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, HRDC has released a request for proposals for transportation planning services. The primary scope of the consultant’s work will be to lead our community in an assessment of Streamline routes. Streamline’s routes were developed nearly 15 years ago. Clearly, our community has grown and changed in many ways since that time. As such, it is our primary goal to assess our system of routes to ensure that it reflects the changing needs of our community.

Recommendations for scaling our system to meet growth patterns will eventually lead to an exploration of funding. As part of the consultant’s scope of work, they will be charged with exploring national best practices for funding transportation networks. While the Urban Transit District is certainly one tool to be evaluated along with fares and other mechanisms, it would be premature to suggest that a UTD is the desired solution to scaling our transportation network.

The recent editorial noted that funding for the Streamline Transit System needs a long-term fix. As with many segments of our public infrastructure in a growing area, that is true. Streamline was able to start service without raising local taxes. HRDC was operating Galavan at the time and was able to leverage Galavan’s funding with funding from the Associate Students of Montana State University (ASMSU) to start Streamline.

I would be remiss to mention that the editorial did contain an error regarding Missoula’s Mountain Line system. While this system did run for decades using a fare-based model, the system switched to a fare-free model some four years ago, resulting in increased ridership and improved community service, all while increasing the financial viability of the system. It’s also important to note that Streamline, while fare-free at the rider level, is paid for in part through contributions from Montana State University, the Associated Students of MSU, the city of Bozeman, and the city of Belgrade. The fact that these partners pay fares in advance allows us to forego the costs of fare collection on our buses, which can be significant.

There are many partners who help make Streamline a reality. Those partners, along with the community, will need to have a conversation on how best to fund Streamline moving ahead so that it can keep up with the growth in the region.

David Kack is the chair of the HRDC board of directors and one of the “founders” of Streamline.