HELENA — On Monday, Helena’s Capital Transit began running its fixed-route buses through the city again, for the first time since they were temporarily suspended Nov. 8.
The north-south “Red Route” and east-west “Blue Route” will now be back on the street.
Leaders said a “perfect storm” of factors had forced them to cut back the service. They had already been trying for some time to fill open driver positions. Then, they had some staff out due to illness and medical leave, adding an extra strain.
Capital Transit had previously suspended its East Valley-East Helena route Nov. 1. That service still isn’t operating, because some full-time drivers aren’t available. City leaders hope to have it back up and running soon.
One service – Capital Transit’s paratransit bus for people with disabilities – has kept running all along.
Leaders say, because they’re still understaffed, Capital Transit’s services could still change based on driver availability.
The city has been looking at the future of the transit system. Ridership had been fairly consistent, with 85,633 riders in fiscal year 2018 and 90,568 in fiscal year 2019. However, numbers dropped dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2020, Capital Transit reported 6,268 riders. In February 2021, they had just 2,002.
From October 2020 to September 2021 – the most recent data available – average monthly ridership was 2,264.
You can find full updated information on Capital Transit’s service at their website.