Helena Capital Transit fare increase could pave way toward expanded service

Riders of Helena’s public transportation system, Capital Transit, may have noticed an increase in the rate this month, and with approval from the city commission, the transportation department will increase it 200% come September.

The Helena City Commission approved the increase during its Aug. 7 meeting from 85 cents to $3 a ride, stating that the rate had not been raised since about 1975 and no longer reflected the level of service provided.

A Capital Transit vehicle drives riders through a residential area in Helena on Thursday.

THOM BRIDGE, Independent Record

The bus switched from traditional fixed-routes to a hail-a-ride model during the COVID pandemic, allowing riders to schedule a pickup and drop-off anywhere within the city through an app on their cellphones. The longstanding rate of 85 cents per ride was carried over to the new model.

Helena Transportation Systems Deputy Director Chris Couey said in an interview that Capital Transit has an about $1.9 million budget this fiscal year and that includes a $447,000 subsidy from the city’s general fund.

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