A small but vigorous crowd stood atop the Higgins Avenue Bridge during the noon hour Thursday carrying letters that spelled out 'Stand Up 4 Transportation', chanting 'Ride The Line'.

photo by Peter Christian

The event was part of a national Stand Up For Transportation Day. Community members were asked to help take a stand for long-term investment and support for public transportation. The key is a long-term transportation funding bill which up for renewal this spring in Washington, D.C.

photo by Peter Christian

Missoula's public transit system, Mountain Line was well represented at the event, as well as numerous employees of the Missoulian newspaper. Mountain Line Operations Manager Jeff Logan described the nationwide purpose of the event.

"This is to encourage our senators and congressman to provide funding for transportation," Logan said. "We're partially funded by MAP 21, that expires on May 31st. The bill is not just to fund mass transit, but it's for highways and bridges, everything that needs to be funded. Right now, we've got an $86 billion backlog of stuff that needs to be fixed, so we're encouraging folks to get out and stand up for transportation."

photo by Peter Christian

Holding up one of the letters on the Higgins Avenue bridge was Missoulian publisher Jeff Heintzelman, who said a good number of his employees took part in the event.

"We're just wanting to show up and show support," Heintzelman said. "I've got about 25 employees here who are raising the flag proudly. Mountain Line is such an integral part of our community. They're a leader in transportation, not just in Missoula, but across the country. Public transportation is super important, and Mountain Line is leading the way."

In 2014, Americans took 10.8 billion trips using public transportation, the highest annual ridership in 58 years.