By Bella Butler EBS EDITORIAL ASISSTANT
BIG SKY – After 18 years of being Big Sky Transportation District’s sole employee, Richard Shultz retired in late July. Shultz began serving the district as the general manager in 2001, when the only bus line in Big Sky was the Snow Express, only offering limited services during the winter.
BSTD has since expanded from offering service three months out of the year to 12, with two bus lines—the Skyline and the Link Express—transferring riders all around Big Sky as well as to and from Bozeman.
Shultz recalls the major transition period for BSTD coinciding with the addition of David Kack as BSTD coordinator in 2003. The district underwent large-scale changes in order to be eligible for grants and federal funding. During this period of growth, Kack said Shultz was instrumental.
“Richard was invaluable in the transition,” Kack wrote in an email to EBS.
Shultz credits his influence on the district to having been the only hands-on, eyes-on person in the field. Although Shultz was charged with general operations and supervising, it wasn’t uncommon to see his famous grin behind opening bus doors. In addition to overseeing drivers and evaluating ridership, Shultz often drove routes in the summertime. He was no stranger to the Skyline’s bike racks and would often hop out at each stop to help riders load their bikes.
“I’ll miss all the passengers I’ve gotten to know over the years,” Shultz said.
Shultz said he’s also sad to leave behind the camaraderie and community among the Skyline and Link Express drivers, but he is excited for the new opportunities retirement presents.
“It may sound silly, but I’m excited about getting to all the things that get ignored around my house,” he said.
He also looks forward to spending time with his youngest son, Yasin.
Although no one has yet been hired, Schultz’ position will be filled by a Kart Stage “mountain manager,” who will conduct much of the work Shultz did, though under a contract, according to Kack. Kack expressed gratitude for Shultz’s time with the transportation district.
“It will be hard to imagine the service operating without him around.”