New CART vehicle arrives for the Holidays

Thursday, January 7, 2021
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Standing with the new public transport van for Red Lodge is left to right, Therese Picasso-Edwards and Stephen Kalb-Koenigsfeld of RLACF, Transit Coordinator David Kallenbach, Barbara Marquardt, Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), and Adam Kraft, Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) in Helena. Courtesy photos

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On Friday, Dec. 18, three elves from the Montana Department of Transportation in Helena delivered a brand-new van to the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, Red Lodge, kicking off the new public transportation system, called “CART”.
CART stands for Carbon County Area Ride and Transit. It is intended to provide free public transportation to citizens of Carbon County who have transportation challenges and need a ride somewhere in Carbon County.
Later in 2021, a second vehicle will be delivered and will offer scheduled rides to the Billings medical complex. While the program was conceived as a service for Carbon County’s elderly and disabled, new Transit Coordinator David Kallenbach wanted to emphasize that the program is not exclusively for these users.
“Anyone with a legitimate need—whether it be a ride to a doctor’s or physical therapy appointment, getting groceries, getting a lift to or from work or school, getting to the library or picking up a prescription, seeing a movie or attending an organizational meeting, catching a ride to the local senior centers or the bank—should consider and call CART to arrange a ride,” said Kallenbach.
“CART will be a very limited service initially, due to the COVID pandemic which will decrease our capacity to two riders at a time, and because we are only operating a single vehicle at first,” he said. “Because of this, it will be a first-come, first-served reservation, and you must call at least the day in advance. We will consider all the requests for a particular day, and then do some prioritizing of rides. We will then get back to you whether we can accommodate your request or not. Medically-related appointments, for instance, will get priority.”
The program was made possible by several grants, one from the Montana Dept. of Transportation that paid for the vehicles, the operation of the program, and the salaries for the staff; and one from the Montana Health Care Foundation, that provided money for planning and getting the program started. The Red Lodge Area Community Foundation took the lead to pursue these grants and initiate this program.
CART is aiming to be operational by the end of January and will be a “Demand-Response” system, meaning that when you call ahead to the CART phone, at least a day in advance, they will arrange to pick you up at your doorstep, provided you live within 3-miles of the Highways 212 and Highway 310 corridors, and get you where you need to go.
“Don’t be afraid to utilize the system! The more riders we get and the successes we achieve with this transit program, the more likely we are to get more funding in the future to expand our services,” said Kallenbach.
Kallenbach said interviews for a van driver will take place in January. Applicants can go to the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation website, to find out more.
The phone number for CART is (406) 426-4506.