New Bus Service Links Whitefish to Glacier Park

Pilot project to explore viability of operating service during future summer seasons

By Tristan Scott

A new bus service will ferry visitors from Whitefish to Glacier National Park this summer beginning July 1.

The service is funded by the Big Mountain Commercial Association, which is the same group that backs the SNOW Bus to Whitefish Mountain Resort during winter months. Stops in Whitefish include the Mountain Mall, Whitefish Community Library and Whitefish Mountain Resort.

“It is the vision of the Big Mountain Commercial Association Board of Directors that this new summer transportation system will attract more people each summer to Whitefish and the valley,” said Rick Cunningham, Big Mountain Commercial Association’s Executive Director.

The service will be a pilot project to explore the viability of operating the service during future summer seasons and is scheduled to coincide with Glacier National Park’s shuttle system schedule. The service will run from Whitefish to Glacier four times per day, and from Whitefish to Whitefish Mountain Resort four times per day. Schedules are available online at www.bigmtncommercial.org and at a variety of Whitefish locations.

“I think this is a terrific pilot to look at how we might serve visitors who would like to have a more European style of visit, by utilizing transport that doesn’t require visitors to have their own vehicle,” added Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow.

“For many years, we have identified the lack of convenient public transportation as a challenge to our visitor experience,” said Dylan Boyle, executive director of the Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This service is another good step to ensure that tourism continues to play a positive role in the development of Whitefish and the Flathead Valley. With fewer vehicles making the trip to Glacier, it will also help to sustain the geographical character of our special area.”

Bus tickets to Glacier Park are $10 round trip for adults, $5 for children under 12, and children under 2 ride for free. Summertime rides up to Whitefish Mountain Resort are free.

The bus will make four round-trips daily through Sept. 7, which coincides with the Glacier shuttle system and dovetails with the Park’s effort to encourage more sustainable transportation along the congested Going-to-the-Sun Road.

In the morning, a SNOW Bus will make the morning runs, while a motor coach with air conditioning will serve the valley in the afternoon. Both buses are equipped with bike racks.

The initial budget for the summer transit is estimated at about $90,000 to $100,000. The bus will not make a stop in Columbia Falls.

Riders must purchase passes to Glacier Park at the entrance, or show proof of an annual pass. A park employee will board the bus at the West Glacier entrance so riders can purchase passes.

Tickets for the bus are available online or at outlets around Whitefish, including Montana Coffee Traders, Whitefish Chamber of Commerce, Sportsman Ski Haus in Whitefish and Kalispell, the Whitefish Mountain Resort Base Lodge, and other locations. No tickets will be sold on the bus.

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