The numbers are in: 71% of Missoulians drive alone to work, according to the city’s recently published neighborhood data.

Driving oneself to work in a five-seat vehicle powered by fossil fuels is not the most earth-friendly mode of transportation. In fact, a 2016 study shows the United States could conserve an average of 33 million gallons of gas each day just by carpooling with one other person.

Would you be more apt to share a ride if it was in the sky?

If you ever watched Hanna-Barbera’s hit animated sitcom The Jetsons, you probably have thought once or twice about what it might be like to drive a car above the road. Kids from the 60s—and their kids and grandchildren who got to watch the show on the Boomerang channel—fantasized about being able to commute in the air via flying car.

Those nostalgic dreams are now one step closer to being parked in your driveway. The newly approved-for-experiment Armada Model Zero by Alef Aeronautics claims it will be able to fly in the sky and drive on the road.

The vehicle also has one convenience the cars seen in cartoons don’t have: it doesn’t need to stop at the gas station! The car that’s been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration is fully electric and doesn’t need a landing strip to take flight and land. Even The Jetsons had to fill up with “high-octane” fuel pellets.

The FAA approval, however, does not mean we’ll be looking up and pinching ourselves to see if we’re dreaming what we’re seeing any time soon. While the company that created the car is accepting pre-orders, the airworthiness certification only allows the vehicle to be operated in specific areas, and, for now, only for testing use.

Navigating Missoula in the traditional ways

In the meantime, around Missoula, we are stuck commuting on the road and trails. Lucky for us, the city has lots of different ways to get around without a car, whether it’s equipped for the road or air.

While the city is looking into micro-mobility options such as scooters available for rent by an app, those entertaining rides aren’t available just yet.

The Mountain Line bus system has stops all over town, has electric buses, and even won the 2021 award for best public transit system in the country. Over 40% of residents in Missoula are within walking distance of a bus stop, according to the city’s neighborhood data.  The University of Montana’s bus system, UDASH, even has a summer river shuttle for floaters to enjoy decreased congestion at river access sites.

Another on-ground way to get around town is by bike, a mode of transportation that is set to get easier in Missoula. To create a more scenic route, bikers can use the trails on either side of the Clark Fork, with a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour. If you’re in need of new wheels, you can build your own after a couple of hours of volunteering at Free Cycles. Don’t forget your helmet!

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