The Gallatin County Big Sky Transportation District, established in 1991, is an Urban Transportation District, established under the laws of the State of Montana. Until December 2006, the District ran a service known as Snow Express, a transit system that operated from mid-December to mid-April, to serve locals and winter visitors to Big Sky.
In 2002, Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute (WTI) began working with the District to review services, including routes and schedules. Through the work of WTI, the District received funding from the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) to create a Transit Development Plan (TDP), which was the first step in beginning a year-round public transportation system. After the TDP was completed, WTI collaborated with the District to complete an application for Federal Transit Administration Section 5311 Funds. These funds, administered by MDT, would allow for the creation of a year-round transit service in Big Sky. Through this process, it was decided not only to continue the service within Big Sky, but to also have a link between Big Sky and Bozeman.
The service in Big Sky would expand to serve areas throughout Gallatin Canyon. The Link service serves several areas in Bozeman such as Strand Union Building on the campus of MSU and the Gallatin Valley Mall; Four Corner’s, and Gallatin Gateway. In October 2006, the District was informed that it would receive funding to operate the new bus system. Skyline, Link to the Peak! began service December 1, 2006.
Community impact has been significant and Skyline has seen an increase in ridership in its first few months of operation. Previously, the Snow Express system provided approximately 45,000 rides during its four-month season (mid December thru mid April). Skyline, since beginning December 1, 2006, has already provided more than 55,000 rides through the end of February, 2007. This is in addition to over 6000 rides provided by the Link. On December 12, 2006, Moonlight Basin, announced its commitment to sponsor the Link bus service between Bozeman and Big Sky. Moonlight Basin’s sponsorship of the transportation system allowed the service between Bozeman and Big Sky to be free for all riders through September 2010.