A new bus service connecting Whitefish to Glacier National Park is set to begin this summer.
The Glacier Express includes stops at the Mountain Mall, Whitefish Community Library and Whitefish Mountain Resort before traveling to the Apgar transit center in Glacier Park.
The bus will make four round-trips daily beginning July 1 through Sept. 7, which coincides with the Glacier shuttle system.
Tickets to Glacier Park are $10 round-trip for adults, $5 for children under 12, and children under 2 ride free. Rides up to Whitefish Mountain Resort are free.
The service is funded by the Big Mountain Commercial Association, the same group that backs the SNOW Bus during winter.
The initial budget for the summer transit is estimated at about $90,000 to $100,000.
“We know we’re going to spend some money this year, but we think it’s worth the investment,” said BMCA member Chris Schustrom. “It’s been talked about for years and years about how important it is to more closely connect Whitefish with Glacier Park.”
The service has been developed in coordination with Park officials, Schustrom said.
“We’ve met with Glacier Park a few times and they’re very excited about the possibility.”
Bus riders will still be required to purchase a Park pass or show proof of an annual pass. The Park plans to have an employee load the bus at the West Entrance gate so riders can purchase passes.
The service will utilize a SNOW Bus for the morning runs, while in the afternoon a motor coach with air conditioning will be used. Both buses will be equipped with bike racks.
The possibly of a stop in Columbia Falls was discussed but won’t happen this summer.
“It’s a possibility in the future, but not this year,” Schustrom said.
“This is experimental,” he added. “We’re going to see if it will fly and we’re hopeful that it will.”
Tickets will be available online or at outlets around town. No tickets will be sold on the bus.
About 10,000 printed copies of the summer schedule will be made available.
For more information, visit online at www.bigmtncommercial.org.