If your coverage is active, we can bill Montana Medicaid for approved medical trips.  48 hours advance notice is required, and payment by Medicaid is not guaranteed.

safety & personal assistance

Our experienced drivers all are PASS (Passenger Service and Safety) certified.  This training focuses on the critical elements of safety, sensitivity and passenger assistance.

What We Do


our service:

We provide reliable service to surrounding areas for those who are in need of transportation.  We pick up locally and coordinate trips to both local and regional destinations.  Our friendly drivers take passengers to grocery stores, shopping centers, medical appointments and SO much more.



Transportation Coordination Plan

Sanders County Council on Aging
Sanders County Transportation

For the period July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025

The Sanders County Council on Aging (SCCOA) is the lead agency involved in providing transportation services to the elderly, disabled and general public in Sanders County, MT.  These services are provided with financial support from the Federal Transit Administration, the Montana Department of Transportation, Sanders County taxpayers (through a mill levy) and individual and corporate donors.  Fares are also important to our program, but they are kept low due to economic issues in the county.

SCCOA partners with a variety of government agencies, social services agencies, senior centers, and county businesses to provide transportation locally, inter-county and (minimally) inter-state.  Cooperative Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding are reviewed every 3 years and copies of all current agreements are attached to this Coordination Plan.

Partner Agency Listing:
Camas Hot Springs Community and Senior Center
Plains Paradise Senior Center
Thompson Falls Senior Center
Trout Creek Senior Center
Heron District Senior Citizens, Inc.
Helping Hands, Inc. (ecumenical social support agency)
Missoula Ravalli Transportation Management Association
Hot Springs Health and Rehabilitation Center
Plains Hospital Corp. dba Clark Fork Valley Hospital
Sanders County Coalition for Families (domestic violence agency)
Sanders County Community Development Corporation
Western Montana Area VI Agency on Aging, Inc.
Montana Child and Family Services
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (Flathead Transit)
Lake County Transit
Summit Independent Living Center
Working Innovations, Inc.

Program Description
SCCOA/Sanders County Transportation serves residents in the following Sanders County communities:  Hot Springs, Lone Pine, Camas Prairie, Plains, Paradise, Dixon, Thompson Falls,
Belknap/Whitepine, Trout Creek, Noxon, and Heron.  The program provides demand response transit within the county and to residents that require transportation locally and out-of-county to Missoula, Kalispell, Polson, and Sandpoint, ID.  Clients are asked to make reservations 24 hours in advance, and are picked up at home, at one of our partner agency sites, or other public meeting places.  We accept reservations for:

  • medical appointments
  • transit to work
  • training sessions
  • meetings with case workers
  • personal business trips to the Courthouse and State Buildings
  • shopping
  • visiting family members and recreational trips

SCCOA/SCT also provides transportation of clients to 4 participating senior centers in Sanders County.

SCCOA/SCT is a Medicaid provider and processes Medicaid Transportation payments as applicable for our clients.

Our Communities and their Needs
Sanders County is located in Northwestern Montana.  It is bordered on the west by Idaho's Panhandle, the east by Lake and Missoula counties and the north by Lincoln and Flathead counties. There are approximately 13,442 residents which is an 8.4% increase in the last 2 years, or about 4.5 people per square mile.  A portion of the Flathead Indian Reservation lies in eastern Sanders County and the Clark Fork River, a tributary of the Columbia, runs the length of the county.  The county also encompasses the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness and two National Forests. A rugged landscape supports mostly health care/social services businesses, government workers, ranching, logging and basic retail establishments.  There is little manufacturing, and natural resource management is mostly a function of government rather than private industry.  The area is remote, rural, and poverty-stricken, with approximately 14.5% of the population below the poverty line (vs. 12.1% statewide).

There are eight (8) Senior Centers in the county:  one tribal and 7 non-tribal facilities.  Additionally, there is one large full service rehabilitation/nursing home facility, and one smaller one associated with the local hospital.  There are 6 senior/low income/disabled apartment complexes spread throughout the county, there are no longer any adult care facilities.  There are two sheltered workshops for the developmentally disabled, and there is one hospital with limited surgical abilities.  Most residents seek specialist care in Missoula, Kalispell, Libby, Polson or Sandpoint.  This includes weekly dialysis treatment, cancer treatment, trauma care, and is not limited to those with the ability to pay for specialized services.  Thompson Falls is located roughly in the middle of the county and is home to the Courthouse which provides vital services to county residents.

Sanders County Transportation is the primary public transportation service available to the people living within the county.  The only other transportation services available in the county are the DAV and VTS (Veteran’s Transportation Service) vans that assist in the transportation of veterans for VA provided health care and in-take appointments.  CSKT Transit operates on the CSKT Reservation which is located in the eastern portion of the county.  Currently, we have no coordination with other agencies, public or private.

With a minimum of 20 miles between communities, and well over 100 miles between them and the larger metropolitan areas mentioned above, landscape/weather conditions/travel time is one of the larger barriers in the attempt to meet the transportation needs in Sanders County.  Additionally, the vehicles in our fleet are aging, so we applied for a new 9 passenger, wheelchair accessible, van from the state last year.  We have no delivery time confirmed from the state for this new vehicle.  We are also applying for another 9 passenger, wheelchair accessible van this year.  The average age of vehicles in our fleet is 9 years old.  With this addition we can begin to cycle out some of our older vehicles which should keep our maintenance costs to a minimum.

According to the Rural Passenger Needs Study, completed in March 2001 for the Montana Department of Transportation, Sanders County is only meeting four (4) percent of the estimated needed rides in the county: “needed rides” are those to households without transportation, seniors, low-income families, and persons with disabilities.  Also included are trips associated with specific programs, i.e. Head Start, Senior Nutrition, and Sheltered Workshop client transportation.

The necessity to keep the small communities of Sanders County linked through transportation is vital for not only the survival of the individuals, but the communities themselves.  If residents are unable to access necessary medical and social services, they are forced into making the decision to let their health deteriorate or move to another community.  If their only option is to move to communities that offer the needed transportation services, we will certainly see decline of small towns across the county.

Partner and Public Involvement
Sanders County Transportation has sixteen (17) “Partner Agencies” (listed on page one) who have signed Cooperative Agreements with us.  These agencies agree to publicize the availability of transportation services to their own constituents, to utilize our services where applicable, and to assist in the operation of the program through participation at our Transportation Advisory Committee meetings.

The Sanders County Transportation program has six public meetings per year (TAC meetings), taking place on the second Thursday of each even month.  The meeting time and location are publicized through our Partner Agencies and via notices posted on local information boards.  There are limited radio and television outlets in the county, although there are two print publications.  Only one publication has been willing to publish free announcements of our meetings although both will publish our schedules for a fee.  We will also utilize our established website to publicize the meeting information in addition to Fare Schedules and appropriate fees.  The meetings are held in Thompson Falls and Plains, the two largest communities in Sanders County, and are in handicapped accessible facilities.  The meetings are held during the day so that as many as possible can attend without worrying about driving in the dark.

In addition, a county wide survey was conducted in 2012 by the County Commissioners where the public was asked to rate and comment on the availability of public transportation.  Those figures were shared with SCCOA, resulting in some changes in our public relations approach: The biggest lesson for us was that the public didn’t know about our services, so we increased our community profile, increased circulation of our printed schedules and began making the rounds to address community groups about the program.  Additionally, we conducted a logo contest to help establish a branding of lettering amongst all vehicles in the fleet.  Each vehicle has been lettered with the new logo, our name and our phone number.  This visual on each vehicle should help the public realize that the service is open to everyone, not just Seniors.  A SCCOA website has been established with links to services provided.  We are also looking to utilize local TV access and area radio stations to increase public awareness of our services with public service announcements.  Since implementing these strategies we have seen a significant increase in our ridership.

Transportation Advisory Committee
The Sanders County Transportation Advisory Committee meets bi-monthly on the second Thursday of even months.  The public is advised of TAC meetings by email and through notices posted at member agencies and on local info boards.  Advisory in nature, all transportation and policy matters come before the TAC and are then recommended for adoption (or not) by the full Sanders County Council on Aging Board of Directors.

The TAC membership is comprised of Representatives of Partner Agencies and the Sanders County Council on Aging. All drivers, passengers, and the general public are welcome. Officers are elected annually in February.

Both a full listing of TAC Representatives and minutes from the last six TAC meetings are included with this application.

Lyn Hellegaard, President                                                                                                           

Sanders County Council on Aging Board of Directors