November 28, 2014
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MTD is Hiring

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to bring you this service reminder: There will be no MTD service all day on Thanksgiving, November 27.

MTD is hiring! There are several positions for which MTD is currently accepting applications. If you or someone you know is interested in one or more of these positions, please encourage them to apply. An application must be submitted for every position an applicant is interested in pursuing. Cover letters and resumes are not required, but welcomed. MTD is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Candidates for any position must pass a drug test.

"MTD" "bus operator" "street relief"

MTD is hiring bus operators for our fixed-route service.

Bus Operator

This is the position with the most availability. Don’t have your Commercial Driver’s License? No problem! We’ll pay you while we train you. Not sure if the position is right for you? Read the blog posts in our Training Section to get an inside look at the position. Here is the official posting:

The District is looking for self-starting, friendly individuals to become bus operators. Applicants must have an excellent driving record and be 21 years of age with a high school diploma or equivalent. Must pass a physical exam and have outstanding customer service skills. Operators must complete up to 8 weeks of training with pay and then pass multiple parts of the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) exam.

During training wage is $11.00 per hour. Following training, starting wage is $13.54 per hour. Bus operators are eligible for vacation, uniform allowance, life insurance, and credit union membership with many additional benefits available after completing one year of service.

Operators work a minimum of 20 flexible hours per week with opportunity for additional hours, and must be available weekends.

Part-Time Technician

MTD is proud of our top-notch Maintenance Department. The facility is ISO 14001 certified, which means the Maintenance employees are committed to an efficient operation with little environmental impacts. The Maintenance Department’s commitment to quality is also evidenced in the delayed retirement of our buses. Successful management of the fleet has kept buses in service five plus years over their expected life. Here is the official posting:

"Maintenance" "bus" "technician" "lift" "bay"

Technicians service a 40-foot bus up on a lift.

The District’s Maintenance Department is accepting applications for a highly motivated and a career minded part-time technician. Candidates are expected to have a basic understanding of diesel and gas engines and the ability to diagnose and repair all associated vehicle systems. Individuals must have a clean driving record, be able to obtain a Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), and pass a Type II and Type III Refrigeration exam. This position requires a minimum Associate’s Degree in Diesel Mechanic or Trade School or military mechanical equivalent.

Applicants will maintain Public Transportation vehicle systems which include Hybrid technology. Starting pay is $16.54/hr. After training, hours for this position will be overnights/weekends.

Specialized Services Operator

This position operates MTD’s ADA Paratransit Service. Operators receive special training to provide our curb-to-curb service for qualified passengers who are unable to ride MTD’s fixed route service. Here is the official posting:

The District is hiring for the position of Specialized Services Operator. Must be at least 21 years of age; have a high school diploma or equivalent; and have an excellent driving record. Applicants must be able to pass a physical exam; are required to take a drug test; and have outstanding skills in dealing with the public. Operators must successfully complete four weeks of paid training.

Starting salary is $12.15 per hour following training. Operators are eligible for earned time, uniform allowance, life insurance, and credit union membership. Operators are expected to work a minimum of 20 hours per week and be available on weekends.

Part-Time Operator (C-CARTS)

As covered in a previous post, MTD is the manager of rural service in Champaign County. The Champaign-County Area Rural Transit Service (C-CARTS) is looking for operators to transport residents county-wide in small vans. Here is the official posting:

C-CARTS is looking for part-time vehicle operators. Candidates must be at least 21 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and have an excellent driving record. Applicants must pass a physical exam and drug screening. Outstanding skills in dealing with the public are a must.

Starting salary is $11.00 per hour. Operators are eligible for earned time, life insurance, and credit union membership. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

MTD is thankful for the over 340 employees we have now. The District’s employees are committed to yes, which means quality service on the street, behind a counter, over the phone, and behind the scenes. We hope you’ll join us and give MTD even more reasons to be thankful!

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Fall Break Service Reductions 2014

"tranSPORT" "Fighting Illini Football" "MTD" "bus"

Cheer on the Illini for their last season game! Ride the 280 tranSPORT Champaign or Urbana starting at 9 am.

The first University of Illinois Break for the 2014-2015 academic year is five days away! Fall Break is the last week in November and MTD will reduce services beginning this Saturday, November 22. Reductions continue through Saturday, November 29.

Service Reductions

2 Red: The Express trips, marked with “L” and “U” footnotes will not operate Monday through Friday. These trips will resume operation on Monday, December 1.

12 Teal: Trips marked with the “U” footnote do not operate Monday through Friday. This reduces the Teal’s frequency to every 20 minutes. The routing remains the same.

13 Silver: Trips marked with the “U” footnote do not operate Monday through Friday. This reduces the Silver’s frequency to every 20 minutes. The daytime routing remains the same.

22/220 Illini Limited: This abbreviated route will operate all eight days of the UI Fall Break reductions. The frequency is every 30 minutes.

27/270 Air Bus: The route will operate all scheduled trips Monday through Saturday.

50 Green, 100 Yellow, 120 Teal, 130 Silver, and 220 Illini: During the UI Fall and Spring Semesters, these five routes offer late night trips after midnight. These routes will not operate these late night trips during the Fall Break.

"University of Illinois" "Main Library" "13N Silver" "bus"

The 13/130 Silver is one of the campus routes that adapts reduced service during University of Illinois Breaks.

130 Silver Limited:  This shortened route will operate evenings and weekends during the Fall Break. The frequency is the same as the regular 130 Silver – every 20 minutes.

335 SafeRides: The after-dark van service continues operation through the Fall Break, but is reduced. SafeRides is available from 5:00 pm until 12:30 am. Designated pick up locations are not served. There is no SafeRides at all on Sunday, November 23.

Sunday Evening & Late Night: Year-round, MTD’s Sunday service groups evening and late night routes. When the UI is in session, five routes operate evening and late night service. They are the 50 Green, 100 Yellow, 120 Teal, 130 Silver, and 220 Illini. When the UI is not in session, these routes do not operate late night service, as detailed above, but they also do not operate evening service on Sundays.

Final Notes of Note

There will be no MTD service all day on Thanksgiving, November 27. We hope you enjoy the holiday and hope to see you at the Parade of Lights! The 14th annual parade will be Saturday, November 29 in downtown Champaign and it walks off at 6 pm.

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Champaign County Area Rural Transit Service

"rural transit" "champaign county" "c-carts"

Champaign County Area Rural Transit Service (C-CARTS) Logo

MTD became the operator of rural transportation in Champaign County on October 1, 2014. Formerly managed by CRIS Rural Mass Transit District, the Champaign County Board asked MTD to operate the service when CRIS declined their annual contract renewal.

MTD’s Special Services Manager, Drew Bargmann, said CRIS offered to get the program up and running but did not plan to manage the service long-term. “CRIS managed the system for three years and got it off the ground. Prior to FY2011, there was no rural transit service in the County – at all.” Bargmann will now manage the rural transit system out of MTD’s Administration & Operations Facility.

Division of Services

Champaign County is the recipient of federal and state grants to provide transportation to rural residents. MTD agreed to operate the service as the County designed it. Rural transportation in Champaign County is newly branded Champaign County Area Rural Transit Service (C-CARTS). Their website went live today! If you’d like to schedule a trip, please call 217.344.4287. This is the same phone number CRIS used. The offices have moved from 801 East University Ave in Urbana, to MTD’s Facility located at 1101 East University Avenue.

There is a distinct line between MTD operations and the added rural, C-CARTS operations. “MTD is not contributing any money to C-CARTS,” Bargmann said. “MTD operators will not be asked to operate the rural service and vice versa. No rural operator will be asked to operate MTD services.” 15 former CRIS Rural Transit employees became employees of the District.

MTD’s Maintenance Department has been servicing and maintaining CRIS’s eight vans. They will continue to do so and the payment for their labor will continue to come from the County. Just like with employees, no MTD vehicles will be put in service for rural transportation. Everything is kept separate.

Services Available

"C-CARTS" "Champaign County" "rural transit" "service" "map"

C-CARTS serves rural Champaign County. This map details their service area.

So what service is available to rural Champaign County residents? C-CARTS operates Monday through Friday from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. Passengers need to schedule their trips 48 hours (two working days) in advance. The fare varies depending on the passenger’s age and destination.

An advisory group is managed by Champaign County to determine the needs of the service, develop it, and guide it as it grows. The service is structured around color-coded zones. Passengers wishing to take a trip within one zone pay less than passengers seeking to travel between two zones. Ridership in Rantoul is strong. Passengers travelling within the Rantoul-area pay $2 each way. Passengers wishing to go from Rantoul to Champaign-Urbana, for example, pay $5 each way.

“We’re keeping the current system structure as it exists with CRIS and as is determined by the County,” said Bargmann.

Thanks to the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission for their oversight and support with this transition!

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Green Light: Saving Green in Winter Months

Cold weather is upon us, Chambana! There are seven weeks left of fall, but the heaters are already turned on. The cold months can be one of the most difficult times to save energy. Here are three ways MTD works to save energy on heating our facilities:

"rapid roll" "doors" "safety cones"

Rapid roll doors have been installed on the east side of the building, the direction of pull out.

Rapid Roll Doors:  There are eight large openings through which buses enter and exit the storage area of MTD’s Maintenance Facility in Urbana. Buses are constantly entering and exiting this area throughout the day, which poses a challenge to our energy conservation efforts in the winter. Each time the doors open on either end of the garage, a tremendous loss of warm air occurs. Thankfully we don’t cool the garage in the summer, so this is only a challenge for part of the year.

To combat heat loss, MTD installed rapid roll doors on both sides of our Maintenance Facility. These fast moving doors save energy by helping to minimize the heat loss each time a door is opened. Read more about these special doors in this blog post.

"CUMTD" "MTD" "geothermal"

Tom Costello, Assistant Managing Director, monitoring construction of the geothermal HVAC system back in 2011.

Waste Oil Heaters: Waste oil is recovered from vehicles during oil changes and inspections. But instead of disposing of it, MTD stores it. We burn the waste oil to heat MTD’s Maintenance Facility, specifically our work bays. Since 2003, two waste oil heaters have been used to safely and cleanly burn waste oil, heating over 75 percent of the maintenance shop every winter. Learn more about this sustainable initiative in this blog post.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling: Geothermal energy is used to heat MTD’s Administration & Operations Facility. This system significantly lowers our natural gas demand by accessing the stored, renewable energy that already exists in the ground. Read this blog post to learn more about how this system works and the energy savings that we have experienced from it.

You probably know how green our fleet is since over half our buses are hybrids. But now you know we’re as green on the street as we are back at home! Here’s to an efficient, and hopefully not too cold, winter.

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MTD Service After Dark

"CUMTD" "MTD" "urbana meijer" "solar lighting" "bus shelter"

To increase night-time safety, MTD installed solar lighting at 10 bus shelters.

Campus and community safety are a topic of constant concern. Recent crimes on and off campus are encouraging many to redouble their efforts to be safe after dark. This blog covers the services MTD provides in the evening and late night hours.

Evening Fixed Route Service

MTD’s fixed route daytime service wraps up by the end of the 6 o’clock hour all seven days of the week. There is more evening service Monday through Friday than on the weekends. Evening fixed route service begins at approximately 7 pm and runs through the 11 o’clock hour.

Monday through Friday, evening service is available on the 50 Green, 70 Grey, 100 Yellow, 110 Ruby, 120 Teal, 130 Silver, 180 Lime, and 220 Illini. It’s important to check the route and timetable for evening service as there is often some variation from the weekday daytime version of the route. The routing and frequency can also change whether or not the University of Illinois is in session or on break. All variations are detailed on the schedule and map. You can always contact us for clarification!

The same routes that operate evening service Monday through Friday operate Saturday evenings. Again, there is some variation in the routes and timetables, so please reference the appropriate schedule.

Sunday evening service is combined with late night service and fewer routes operate. In the 7 o’clock hour, passengers can ride the 50 Green, 100 Yellow, 120 Teal, 130 Silver, and 220 Illini.

Late Night Fixed Route Service

"Wright & Green" "22 Illini" "uiuc" "mtd" "cumtd"

Photo Credit Siyao Luan

Service that operates after midnight is categorized as late night. Thanks to the needs and funding from University of Illinois students, five routes operate seven days a week during the University of Illinois Fall and Spring Semesters.

The 50 Green  Late Night operates between Lincoln Square and Illinois Terminal only with 20 minute frequency. The 100 Yellow Late Night operates between the Champaign Walmart and Lot E-14 with 30 minute frequency. The 120 Teal Late Night operates between Orchard Downs and Illinois Terminal with 20 minute frequency. The 130 Silver Late Night operates between Lincoln Square and PAR/FAR (Vet-Med every other trip with the last trip at 1:42 am) with 20 minute frequency. Finally, the 220 Illini Late Night operates the same routing and maintains 10 minute frequency.

These late night routes cease operation between 3 and 5 am. The final trip depends on the route as well as the day of the week. Four of the five routes operate later on Friday nights to respond to demand.

335 SafeRides

335 SafeRides is a demand response service that operates seven days a week during the UI Fall and Spring Semesters. A common saying at MTD when explaining the service is, “It’s not FastRides, it’s SafeRides.”

We inform riders to expect wait times of 15 minutes during the week and up to 30 minutes on the weekend. The purpose of the service is to provide safe transportation to individuals who are travelling alone and when no other means (read: not along fixed-route service) of safe transportation are available within the designated boundaries. Sunday through Wednesday three vans operate the service and divide the boundaries into distinct service areas. Thursday through Saturday four vans operate the service. The vans meet every 30 minutes at the Illini Union to transfer passengers, if needed, to each other’s service area.

The Illini Union, Armory & Wright (Main Library), and Illinois Street Residence Halls (ISR) offer designated pickups twice an hour. You do not need to schedule a pick up if you are boarding at one of these locations.

Daylight Saving Time Ends at 2:00 am this Sunday, November 2. As a result of fewer daylight hours, MTD pushes the start time of SafeRides from 7:00 to 5:00 pm. The 5:00 pm start time will run from November 3, 2014 through March 9, 2015.

SafeWalks

SafeWalks is a terrific resource on campus for late night travel. The service is operated by students and managed by the University of Illinois Police Department. The UI Police Student Patrol will meet faculty, staff, and students and walk with them to their home, a nearby bus stop, etc. The Student Patrollers receive training and have radio communication with police officers. You can contact SafeWalks at 217.333.1216.

To close, please read this post from earlier in the year on things to do when riding at night. Be aware, be alert, and be seen. Be part of the Bee Scene! See you on the street.

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FAQs from the Disability Resource Expo

MTD attended the 8th Annual “disABILITY Resource Expo: Reaching Out for Answers” Saturday, October 18 at the Fluid Events Center. The 70 Grey and our ADA Paratransit service brought many community members to the event! After five hours of connecting with riders, inquiring riders, and community agency representatives, we began to see a trend in the questions asked. Here’s an FAQ from the 2014 disABILITY Resource Expo.

"CUMTD" "MTD" "bus" "lincoln square" "kneel" "ramp"

All MTD buses can kneel, lower to the ground, and a ramp. Just ask your operator if you need the assistance!

Fixed Route Service

All buses in MTD’s fleet can be kneeled, lowered to the ground, and a ramp deployed. No explanation required, please just ask the operator! Many attendees had concerns that the route and vehicle they would ride would not be equipped with these resources. We assured them, as we are assure you reader, you can board a route with confidence that these tools will be available to you.

Professionals from across disciplines attended the expo to collect resources for their clients. We told many representatives that MTD is at their service! If you want a box of Maps & Schedules Books delivered, information pamphlets, or an in-person presentation on “How to Ride,” please give us a call! You’re also welcome to visit our Administration & Operations Facility to collect resources in person or just to connect with the appropriate staff person.

Seniors Ride Free

This conversation happened countless times at the expo.

Attendee approaches MTD table and sees brochure titled, ‘Seniors Ride Free.’

“How old do you have to be to be considered a senior?”

“65 years of age,” MTD representative replied.

“Oh wow, I’m [insert age that’s 65 or older]! How do you get a pass?”

“You need to go to Illinois Terminal, MTD’s intermodal facility in downtown Champaign. Just

"CUMTD" "bus" "seniors"

Seniors age 65 or older ride MTD for free! All day, everyday.

show them proof of age and you’ll be issued a DASH Card. It’s good for three years and you can ride any time, any day.

We often say to seniors that acquiring a DASH Card is like a transportation insurance policy. You may not need it now, but it’s a resource during bad weather and when health and family plans change.

DASH Card for Riders with Disabilities

Medicare Card holders and persons having significant difficulty boarding or alighting from an MTD vehicle may qualify for a DASH Card as a rider with disability. The DASH Card is issued at no cost and provides unlimited access to our fixed route service. Dozens of attendees asked how people qualify and how they can renew their card.

Individuals need to present a letter from the Social Security office that confirms they are receiving aid because of a disability. The Customer Service Center at Illinois Terminal can take the letter and then issue a DASH Card. The letter must be dated within the last 30 days. This letter can be used for a first time DASH Card passenger or for someone who is renewing their pass.

There are also four certifying agencies locally who can issue a verification letter. They are Community Elements, Developmental Service Center (DSC), Division of Rehabilitation Services, and PACE Center for Independent Living.

Once issued, the DASH Card is valid for three years.

Rural Transportation

Many expo attendees read or heard that rural transportation in Champaign County was no longer operated by the CRIS Rural Mass Transit District. They were correct! MTD was asked by Champaign County to take over management of the service beginning October 1, 2014. Champaign County rebranded the service as the Champaign County Area Transit Service (C-CARTS).

Outside of the name change, the service is relatively the same. Champaign County receives the state funding and defines the service. All of the current C-CARTS employees are former CRIS employees.

The differences are that the service is now managed by MTD’s Special Services Manager, Drew Bargmann, and operations are based out of 1101 East University Avenue instead of 803 East University Avenue. If you have any questions about C-CARTS or want to schedule a ride, please call 217.344.4287. MTD’s Customer Service phone line, 217.384.8188, will not be able to provide trip information or schedule assistance.

ADA Paratransit Service

This curb-to-curb van service is available for qualifying individuals under the Americans with Disabilities Act who are unable to access fixed route service. An application must be completed, and approved, before passengers can schedule a trip. Trips must be scheduled a day in advance and cost $2 each way. ADA applications are available for pick up at our Administration & Operations Facility in Urbana. If you have general questions about the program, or need an application mailed to you, please call 217.384.8188 and ask to speak to someone regarding ADA.

Those are the highlights! Thanks to everyone who organized and attended the EXPO. It is a wonderful event. Also thanks to all the riders we met!

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MTD Does ‘Ask Me Anything’ on Reddit

Last Friday, October 10, user anchal26 posted this on Reddit in /r/uiuc:

AMA request: MTD operator/rep

Since MTD has a massive presence in CU because students and townies use the buses daily, it would be great to ask questions and learn more about how the service operates. Some questions I’d like to ask:

  1. When operators pick shifts, what’s the most preferred route and why? Which route is the smoothest?
  2. What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen or encountered on the bus?
  3. Did any rider say or do something to you that made your day?
  4. Bonus: what’s your favorite voice ad on the bus?

What is an AMA? Unique to Reddit, the social networking news and entertainment service, Ask Me Anything is a subreddit where notable figures, celebrities, and individuals with novel experiences host a press conference of sorts where questions are answered and commented on.

After 18 up votes to anchal26’s post, MTD decided to answer the request! Join me, Amy Snyder, Customer Service Manager, Jay Rank, Planner, and Ryan Blackman, Software Developer/Network Administrator this Friday, October 17 from 3:30-5:00 pm for an MTD Ask Me Anything (AMA). MTD’s Reddit account, /u/cumtd, will post an announcement for the AMA on /r/uiuc on Thursday, October 16. You’re welcome to post questions there in advance!

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Green Light: Going for Gold

This month’s Green Light was written by Jane Sullivan, MTD’s Grant Manager and Sustainability Planner.

MTD became a founding signatory of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Sustainability Commitment in 2009. In August 2014, MTD extended this commitment by reaching Gold Level Achievement recognition.

Signing the initial commitment required MTD to follow, and document, this set of core principles:

1) Make sustainability part of MTD’s strategic objectives;

2) Identify a sustainability champion within MTD coupled with the proper human and/or financial resources and mandates;

3) Establish an outreach program on sustainability for all MTD staff;

4) Undertake a sustainability inventory of MTD including: water usage, criteria air pollutant emissions, greenhouse gas emissions and savings, energy use, and recycling/waste levels

All signatories can obtain higher recognition levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum) by achieving action items and stretch goals, committing to additional action items and stretch goals, and attaining reduction targets for a series of set indicators.

To achieve Gold Level, MTD identified short and long-term accomplishements and created additional goals. What follows is a sampling of those items.

Action Items Achieved

  • Reduce waste oil disposal
  • Use environmentally friendly building materials
  • Upgrade toilets to conserve water
  • Reduce greenhouse gas impact of buses
  • Establish program for employee input and engagement in MTD’s sustainability program
  • Support research in pollution prevention
"solar panels" "solar array"

MTD’s 1,212 panel solar array on the roof of our Maintenance Facility is accomplishing many environmental goals!

Action Items Committed To

Stretch Goals Achieved

Stretch Goals Committed To

"bus barn" "MTD bus" "hybrid"

As MTD’s buses come due for retirement, they are replaced with diesel-electric hybrids.

  • Achieve zero waste at all facilities (we’re working on it!)
  • Obtain green business certification of Administration and Operations Building (achieved in May 2014!)
  • Replace older diesel buses with diesel-electric hybrid to obtain 75% hybrid fleet
  • Expand ESMS to the remaining MTD facilities

To achieve Gold Level, MTD made the following improvements to our Sustainability Inventory. The reduction percent measures 2012 numbers against 2009.

Water Usage – Reduction = 20%

Criteria Air Pollutant Emissions – Reduction = 46%

Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Reduction = 10%

Facility Energy Use – Reduction = 22%

Vehicle Energy Use – Reduction = 11%

MTD was and is proud to be a recipient of the GOLD Level recognition for APTA’s Sustainability Commitment. This achievement represents years of hard work and our devotion to continuing the District’s sustainability efforts.

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Ride the 280 tranSPORT to Memorial Stadium

While unseasonably warm temperatures grace our area this week, we all know fall and winter temperatures are inevitable. The Fighting Illini Football Team and their fans have four more home games to weather. Don’t get caught in the cold! Let the 280 tranSPORT keep you warm and your wallet full.

"tranSPORT sign" "Ceramics" "football"

Signage is posted at each designated stop along both the 280 tranSPORT routes in Champaign and Urbana.

Follow the Footballs

There is a 280 tranSPORT Champaign and another route for Urbana. Both versions of the tranSPORT have designated stops marked on the route maps by footballs and on the street by big blue signs (pictured left). Both routes serve large parking decks that offer free or low-cost parking options.

The 280 tranSPORT Champaign begins on Church Street just west of Neil. Fans can leave their vehicles in the Hill Street Parking Deck and ride through downtown Champaign to campus. The second stop is at Green & Wright. Fans alight at Fourth & Peabody, just a couple blocks northeast of Memorial Stadium.

The 280 tranSPORT Urbana begins at the North Campus Parking Deck located on Goodwin Avenue just south of University. Fans can board at the Ceramics Building, across from the Alice Campbell Alumni Center on Gregory Place, and finally at Goodwin & Gregory. The 280 tranSPORT Urbana will alight fans at Fourth & Kirby.

Rules of the Game

"tranSPORT" "Urbana" "Krannert" "ISR" "Alumni"

Fighting Illini Fans board the 280 tranSPORT Urbana next to Krannert and across from the Alumni Center.

The rules to ride are simple. If you are a University of Illinois affiliate, just show your iCard. If you have an MTD Annual or Monthly Pass, just show your pass. If you have none of the above, you can pay just $2 to ride round-trip. Exact cash fare is preferred, but operators can make change up to $5.

The tranSPORTS begin operating two hours before kick-off. This Saturday, October 4 game against Purdue begins at 11:00 am, so you’ll see the first tranSPORTS depart at 9:00 am. Each stop will be served approximately every 15 minutes until the game begins. You may look to return on the tranSPORT any time during the game. Just look for the 60-foot buses labeled 280 tranSPORT at the stop you alighted at. So if you took the Champaign route, please walk back to Fourth & Peabody. If you want to return on the Urbana route, you can look for the buses on the east side of Kirby Avenue.

The 280 tranSPORT will continue northbound trips from Memorial Stadium 30 minutes after the game ends.

Have you taken the 280 tranSPORT before? How was your trip?

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New Bus Stop Lookup Features

Our mission at MTD is, “leading the way to greater mobility.” Technology and online passenger tools play a significant role in accomplishing this mission. Tools like mobile apps, Trip Planner, and Bus Stop Lookup increase passenger confidence while making our system easier to use.  So in our mission to be greater, MTD’s Software Developer recently released two new features in our Bus Stop Lookup tool.

"Illinois Terminal" "Bus Stop Lookup" "routes" "MTD"

The Bus Stop Lookup page for Illinois Terminal. Note all the routes serving the stop listed on the left-side navigation.

Routes by Daytype

Look up any bus stop in MTD’s system and once you’ve landed, check out the left side navigation. You’ll now see “This stop is served by” and routes organized by MTD’s daytypes. For Bus Stop Lookup this is organized by Weekday Daytime, Weekday Night, Saturday Daytime, Saturday Night, Sunday Daytime, and Sunday Night.

With one click, you’ll be directed to the map for the route and daytype you selected. Want to view the timetable? Just click the “SCHEDULE” tab right next to “ROUTE MAP.” Our route pages also display links to downloadable schedules and maps that are printer-friendly. You can also read the full reroutes in effect (if any) for the selected route.

This display is also a great way to see, at a glance, which routes serve a stop across daytypes. This is helpful if you are travelling outside of your normal origins and destinations, or just want to see if a trip is possible in the evenings or on weekends.

Word to the Wise

In a majority of listings, the routes displayed under a bus stop operate throughout the day with little variation. But in order to provide this handy tool, all routes and special trips must be displayed even if they don’t operate throughout a daytype. This includes routes that operate during peak times only, mornings and afternoons (for example the 5 Green Express, 11 Ruby, and 14 Navy), or during shift changes at locations like Plastipak. In a minority of cases, a route listed may only serve the bus stop two times a day because it is transporting middle and high school students to and from school. These are called School Trippers and they are open for everyone, student or non-student, to ride.

While the above details complicate things, these variables already exist in our system. What didn’t exist was a quick and easy way to reference variations in a single trips. So use this new route tool in Bus Stop Lookup to reference your trip in a route’s timetable and make certain it is operating where and when you expect it to.

Scheduled Time

"Illini Union" "scheduled time" "routes"

A scheduled departure is visible in this screenshot for the Illini Union bus stop.

When viewing STOPwatch real-time, you’re most likely to see a countdown to a trip’s departure listed in minutes. Have you ever seen the departure listed in clock time, like 11:36 am? If you saw this in Bus Stop Lookup or on our apps, what you were seeing was a scheduled departure time instead of a real-time departure estimate based on the latest GPS location of the route.

As a new added feature, Bus Stop Lookup alerts you that a time displayed is scheduled with a simple parenthesis “(scheduled)” next to the clock time. STOPwatch real-time departures are unchanged and will continue to list the countdown to departure with the clock time calculated next to the listing. We added this feature to provide more clarity for passengers.

Why do scheduled times sometimes get displayed instead of real-time? It’s usually one of three reasons:

  1. An in-service bus, for some reason, is not tracking real-time data. This could be because:
    1. The radio quality is so poor that data cannot be transmitted;
    2. The operator is not logged into his or her “block,” which leaves their vehicle unassigned and their data unmatched to a route.
  2. The hardware and/or software back at MTD headquarters is out of commission. This could be caused by a myriad of things such as a bad software update from our vendor or an electric outage.
  3. An extra trip was created but has not been assigned yet. MTD dispatchers will do this to respond to service delays or heavy passenger demands. The extra trip will support a route in need, say an additional 13 Silver, and it may show up in the data before it is assigned to an actual vehicle.

So while this added feature to Bus Stop Lookup is small, we think it’s worth mentioning because it stands by our mission to give you more. More transparency, more information.

Developers

Neither of these new features have been added to our API (Application Programming Interface) – yet. Developers, if we added these features to the API methods, do you think you’d code them into your apps? Let us know in the comments!

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Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District
1101 East University Avenue
Urbana, IL 61802-2009
(217) 384-8188
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