September 21, 2014
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$15.7 Million Grant Awarded to Champaign-Urbana

There was a big announcement last week. An MTD News story was published on our website on September 12 to share the word:

On September 8, 2014 MTD was informed by Senator Durbin’s office that the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) will award MTD a $15.7 million TIGER grant on September 12, 2014 to rehabilitate streets on core transit corridors to bring them into a state of good repair while redesigning them to safely accommodate all roadway users including bicyclists, pedestrians, vehicles, and transit riders.

What are TIGER grants?

Funds for the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Program are awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on their region. The DOT defines the TIGER Program as a “unique opportunity for the DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives.”

This year, the U.S. DOT received 797 applications totaling $9.5 billion in funds applied for. The amount applied for was 15 times the $600 million allocated for the TIGER Program.

MTD and our partners submitted an application for a TIGER Grant in late April 2014. This was the third time the group had pitched this project to the DOT. The streets within the proposed corridor, which we’ll get to later, are subject to three different jurisdictional agencies: City of Champaign, City of Urbana, and the University of Illinois. MTD makes the fourth entity involved with this project. All four entities are contributing financially to the project and the grant would not be possible without everyone’s support. The DOT’s $15.7 million will go toward the total funds needed for the project, which are estimated to be $34,883,465. The community partners are contributing the remaining 55% ($19,178,138) of the project’s cost.

What’s the project?

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The tentative four phases of the MCORE Project. Photo Credit: Foth Infrastructure and Environment

The Multimodal Corridor Enhancement Project (MCORE) will accomplish many, many goals. The ultimate project goal is:

A multi-modal network of roads, on-street bike lanes, shared lane markings, bus-only lanes, and other transit services that will further enhance mobility for residents and visitors, particularly non-drivers, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and economically disadvantaged populations.

MTD, the cities, and the University agree that the areas outlined in the MCORE Project are in need of serious investment due to heavy mobility demands. Over 80 percent of the jobs in the Champaign-Urbana area are located within an approximate one mile buffer of the project’s corridors.

The streets that will receive improvements over a period of five years serve as critical linkages between the two cities and their downtowns. The corridors are:

  • Armory Avenue – Fourth Street to Wright Street (University)
  • Wright Street – Armory Avenue to White Street (Champaign + University)
  • White Street – Wright Street to Second Street (Champaign)
  • Green Street – Wright Street to Race Street (Urbana)
  • Green Street – Fourth Street to Neil Street (Champaign)

Anyone who has traveled down these corridors, by any mode of transport, can attest to their desperate need for rehabilitation. The current pavement condition threatens the efficiency of these networks for all roadway users. Safety is also threatened. A number of intersections with the highest crash frequency are in the corridors included in the MCORE Project.

The MCORE Project will bring these streets into a state of good repair and greatly enhance safety for all modes of travel. In addition to the street improvements, the Project will also incorporate complete street design components. Several were mentioned above, but here is a complete list:

  • Reduced-width vehicle lanes
  • On-street bicycle lanes
  • Shared lane markings
  • Bus only lanes
  • Bicycle/bus lanes
  • Curb bump-outs
  • ADA accessible curb ramps
  • Enhanced bus stops
  • Vehicle and pedestrian level street lighting
  • Bus prioritization of traffic signals
  • Streetscape elements
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An example of a complete street, White Street is pictured with vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian amenities. Photo Credit: Foth Infrastructure and Environment

Why is everyone congratulating MTD?

MTD will serve as the grantee of record, which means we’re ultimately responsible for all the paperwork and every step from start to finish within each of the four phases. MTD is responsible for the successful completion of the MCORE Project and we’re the ones who will answer to DOT. The execution of the four phases will be handled by the entity who owns the right-of-ways under improvement.

MTD is contributing a total of $3,884,200, 20% of the total local match, to the MCORE Project with local capital funds. MTD’s contribution covers mobility improvements within these corridors. This may include multi-modal amenities like bus shelters, digital kiosks, bike racks, and other streetscape elements depending on the corridor. In addition to the $3.8 million, MTD is acting as the grant recipient and is ultimately responsible for the grant funds and the execution of the overall project. This will be administrated by frequent guest blogger, Jane Sullivan, MTD’s Grant Manager and Sustainability Planner.

Want more?

You can go through all 27 pages of the application. Then there is this News-Gazette article and you can also watch this WICD News Story.

Keep visiting The Inside Lane! We can guarantee we’ll keep the updates coming as the projects go out for bid and construction begins.

MTD cannot thank our community partners enough, as well as everyone who supported this application with their letters. Senator Durbin in particular made a huge effort to encourage DOT to take Illinois projects seriously. Let the MCORE Project begin!

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MTDer: Clair Sullivan

Thousands of customers depend on MTD every day to get to work, school, and other important destinations. Inspired by our Passenger Media Campaign, we’d like to get to know more of you. MTDers are regular riders who have a transit story to share. Want to share your story? Email and we may share your story in a future blog.

Clair Sullivan got our attention with this tweet on July 24, 2014:

Thanks to and , my car will be for sale on Craig’s List this weekend. Anyone want a 2007 Subaru Impreza with 53k mi?

There was a story here and the tweet earned her the inaugural MTDer blog post. Sullivan has had our attention for a couple of years. She frequently tweets @CUMTD with her commute experiences which include compliments to operators, reports on capacity concerns on her 4 Blue route, thoughts on reroutes, and a cool picture of an iced over bus shelter.

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Sullivan’s tweeted image of an iced over bus shelter.

Reason to Ride

A professor of Nuclear Engineering, Sullivan moved to Champaign-Urbana in July 2012. Her office is in the heart of campus in Talbot Laboratory, located just north of Green Street.

“When I first got here, it didn’t initially cross my mind to take the bus,” Sullivan said. “But I don’t believe in paying for parking. Plus my house in Champaign was just two miles from work.” After learning about the fare-free benefit the University of Illinois offers faculty and staff, she began to reconsider her commute options.

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Sullivan poses with her bike outside of Illinois Terminal.

“I’ve gotten really dependent on the bus system here,” Sullivan said. “The bus here is so convenient and clean. The digital connectedness of the bus here makes it so much easier to be a rider. I love the apps that tell me where the bus is and if I’m running late, let me know that I should run! ”

Sullivan is also an avid cyclist and frequently commutes with a mix of transit and biking. “I ride my bike when the weather is good and take the bus when it’s not. Then there are some days when I don’t have the time to change into biker clothes,” Sullivan said.

Thanks to her switch to multi-modal transportation, Sullivan’s household was able to put their second car, her car, up for sale. When we interviewed Sullivan in August, she had not fueled her car since February 2014. “It’s just sitting in my one car garage, forcing my husband’s car to be parked outside,” Sullivan said. Her husband stays at home with their three and a half year old daughter.

Sullivan is also a member of Zipcar, a car share service with over a dozen cars available to rent by the hour. The cars live in Champaign and Urbana, with several in the heart of campus. “It’s been very convenient – not necessarily good for emergencies – but good for running errands and getting to appointments. It cut down on our excuses to have a second car,” Sullivan said.

Once they sell their car, Sullivan’s family will be saving both kinds of green. “Being a nuclear engineer, I’m very concerned about the environment and climate change. I’m capable of biking, running, or busing to work, so I need to live what I teach,” she said. “We’re a single income family, so going down to one car also means not throwing money in a hole for registration, insurance, and maintenance.”

What do the Sullivans plan to do with the extra money? “We need a new sump pump in our basement. We can also use the money to cover private preschool tuition fees,” Sullivan said.

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Sullivan can mix her commute any day she wants because all MTD buses have a bike rack.


If she’s commuting by bike, Sullivan reports she can make it to work in 10 minutes. But she usually clocks in at 15 to 20 minutes to look presentable. Her bus ride on the 4 Blue takes 20 minutes. “When I’m riding the bus, I’m usually on my smart phone, on social media tweeting, and on Facebook. Or I’m reading books on the Kindle app.”


Sullivan recommends using our website and the community-built apps. She’s a fan of the iOS app, CU Transit. “Build in a couple minutes of buffer into your trips and always plan ahead.”

For cycling, Sullivan values comfort. “If comfort is important to you, then make sure you get the right bike. Also, have a plan for getting stuck out in the weather.”

After getting caught in a heavy rainfall on her way to a doctor’s appointment, Sullivan learned the value of waterproof saddlebags for her bike. “It’s a learning process,” she stressed.

Thanks to Clair Sullivan for being an MTDer!

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Green Light: Solar Dashboard

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

The roof of MTD’s Maintenance Facility in Urbana is now home to more than one thousand solar panels. Installation of this 296.94 kilowatt photovoltaic system began in November 2013 and was completed in August 2014. Solar energy is captured by the 1,212 solar panels that make up the array. It is expected to replace about 25% of the facility’s annual electricity needs.

Along for the Ride

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The Solar Dashboard compares energy generated by the array against energy consumption at MTD’s Maintenance Facility.

In addition to our intention to replace a portion of purchased electricity with this renewable source, MTD has also committed to continuous monitoring of the system and sharing the information with the public in real time.

MTD’s solar array is being monitored at all times and the data is publicly available on our Solar Dashboard. The “Solar Electric” page on the Dashboard displays solar energy production of MTD’s Solar Array, as well as electricity consumption of MTD’s Maintenance Facility. Viewing solar production alongside electricity consumption is a straightforward way to observe the progress of our solar array.

We view the Dashboard as a communication tool that enables transparency. It is publicly accessible on any computer, which empowers building occupants, visitors, and the public to view our data. Electricity consumption and generation figures can be expressed in everyday units such as dollars spent or pounds of carbon dioxide emitted. Users have the ability to view energy data on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis. MTD is committed to reducing our environmental impacts and the Dashboard helps us prove it to you!

Hitting Goals

The Solar Dashboard is a powerful internal tool, as well, for monitoring MTD’s progress towards our sustainability goals. Utilization of renewable energy is one component of MTD’s ISO 14001:2004-certified Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS). This system sets environmental objectives and established action plans to achieve our goals. An important element is monitoring progress towards these goals. The Solar Dashboard provides us accurate and reliable data to keep track of our progress.

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The Dashboard offers information about MTD’s other sustainability initiatives.

The Solar Dashboard can also be used to learn about more of MTD’s other sustainability initiatives. The “Sustainability” page outlines projects that MTD completed in relation to renewable energy, energy conservation, water conservation, vehicle improvements, and active transportation initiatives. The “ESMS” page provides information about MTD’s robust Environmental and Sustainability Management System.

So please, visit the Dashboard and take a self-guided tour through our green world!

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Happy Fall Semester

"FAR" "PAR" "students" "bus" "MTD"

Students board the 13N Silver at PAR before their 9:00 am classes. Can you say, standing room only?

Welcome to another school year, Chambana students! It is hot, hot, hot out there and our service is busy, busy, busy. So we’re going to keep this week’s post brief. We want to roll out some reminders and pro tips for newbies as well as our returning passengers.

Hey, Middle and High School Students!

Happy second week of school! We’ve been taking a lot of calls from you, your parents, and the administrators at your school. Everyone is asking for school tripper information, regular MTD route information, and how to find and report lost items.

1) If you’re looking up school trip information, start in our Maps & Schedules section. Under the green box, you’ll see all the area schools listed. Click on your school and find the “zone” that your family lives in. Your morning and afternoon bus trips to school are detailed on the zoomable map as well as in the text above.

2) If you live in Urbana but go to school in Champaign, or vice versa, you will need to use regular MTD bus service to get to and from school. Start with our Trip Planner, it’s super customizable and provides detailed itineraries.

3) Forgot something on board? We covered the entire lost and found process in this post.

Go Cobras!

Parkland College students started class a week ago and boy, did we notice! A few things to remember:

1) The bus stop for Parkland is moved to the Student Union.

2) During the weekday daytime, you can ride the 7 Grey, 9A Brown, or 9B Brown to class. If you’re staying on board after these routes serve Parkland, please reference the schedule. The routes don’t cleanly turn back around to head in the direction they came in.

3) On Saturday, ride the 180 Lime B to Parkland. There are a few trips in the morning and in the afternoon.


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The calm before the Quad Day storm.

And an #ILLINOISwelcome to all! Quad Day was out of control fun yesterday. Thanks to the hundreds of students who visited MTD’s booth on the north side of the Quad. What we noticed was most useful:

1) Download an app! We have community-built apps for iOS, Android, and Windows. Use our App Garage to find them. Want to flex your developer muscles and build an app of your own? We’d love to showcase your work.

2) Not sure how to get from your dorm to class? Want to go to the mall? Our Trip Planner has all the answers.

3) For campus dwellers, Hoppers are your new best friends. They double the frequency for the Yellow, Green, and Gold routes.

4) Please check for assigned bus stops, we call them iStops and designated stops, for the routes you ride. Look for symbols on the route maps on our website and in our Maps & Schedules Book.

That’s all folks! Staff are monitoring school dismissals, schedule adherence, crush loads, fleet performance, and more nearly 24/7. We gotta get back to work. See you out there!

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Service Reductions Lift for Fall Semester

MTD summer service reductions will lift at the start of Friday, August 22 service. But they’ll be back. This week, we’re covering what service reductions are and when you can expect them again.

Why Reduce Service?

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Students board a 13N Silver at Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall (PAR) to go to morning classes.

MTD reduces bus service for extended periods four times during the year. When the University of Illinois is in session, the 43,000 plus students require high frequency service and lots of vehicles, particularly big ones of the 60-foot articulated persuasion. When the students go on break and the academic year ends, campus transforms. So, we do too.

During every seasonal break, summer, fall, winter, and spring, MTD reduces service on a few routes. A majority of these reductions stay the same across the University of Illinois Breaks, but there is some variation. We always dedicate a blog post the week before a UI break begins to the upcoming service reductions. So please continue reading this blog and/or subscribe to an RSS feed! We’ll also post the same information on our website and share it on Facebook and Twitter.

What’s Affected?

Even though the calendar dates of University breaks may change slightly, MTD reduces most of the same services each time. The below reductions are in effect during breaks, days outside of the UI Fall and Spring Semesters. Let’s pull through them:

  • 2 Red Express does not operate during breaks. This means trips marked in the schedule with “L” and “U” footnotes do not operate.

  • Trips marked with the “U” footnote in the 12 Teal Weekday Daytime schedule do not operate when the UI is not in session. This reduces the route’s frequency from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.

  • Trips marked with the “U” footnote in the 13 Silver Weekday Daytime schedule do not operate when the UI is not in session. This reduces the route’s frequency from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.

  • During the evenings and on the weekends, the 130 Silver Limited operates instead of the regular 130 Silver. The routing is much reduced, but the evening and weekend frequency of 20 minutes remains the same year-round.

  • The 22/220 Illini Limited operates during all daytypes. The frequency is reduced to 30 minutes and the routing is abbreviated.

  • Monday through Saturday, any trip scheduled after midnight does not operate. Routes that offer Late Night service are the 50 Green, 100 Yellow, 120 Teal, 130 Silver, and 220 Illini.

  • Sunday Evening and Late Night service does not operate when the UI is not in session. This affects the same routes listed above.

What About SafeRides?

During the fall and spring semesters, 335 SafeRides operates seven days a week until 6:30 am. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, MTD adds a fourth van to respond to demand. Three vans are scheduled Sunday through Wednesday.

During the UI summer break, there is no 335 SafeRides at all.

But during the UI fall, winter, and spring breaks, thanks to the most recent transportation contract, 335 SafeRides continues but in a limited operation. The service operates until 12:00 am with one van. Designated pick-up locations will be served, but not on the 30-minute schedule detailed. You will need to call MTD to request a pick-up for all stops. During breaks, 335 SafeRides only operates Monday through Saturday. There is no Sunday SafeRides.  Learn how to love SafeRides and let it love you back.

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Socialize with us! Download an app from our App Garage!

And Remember, Folks…

If you plan on riding MTD during the fall break, November 22-29, please stay connected with us! We will post detailed information about the phasing in and out of service reductions on this blog, our website, Facebook, and Twitter pages. All routes affected by service reductions are reflected in our data, which can be found on our website and in our API. Developers then use this data to build apps. Search and download a community-built app from our App Garage!

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MTD’s 2014-2015 Service Year Begins August 17

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The cover of MTD’s 2014-2015 Maps & Schedules Book. “MTD Opens Doors to New Connections and Stronger Communities”

MTD’s new service year begins this Sunday, August 17. For MTD employees, riders, and bus lovers, it’s an exciting time. Our service is updated once a year and it requires months of feedback, planning, preparation, and production.


We covered the significant changes in a June post that preceded our June 16 public hearing on the proposed service improvements. When those were endorsed by the public, we elaborated on the addition of designated stops in downtown Champaign in this July post.

On July 28, we published a link on our website to a PDF of all 176 pages of the 2014-2015 Maps & Schedules Book. This gives everyone extra time to study route and timetable changes as well as look up the new designated stops for their routes that serve downtown Champaign.

Yesterday, August 10 was the last day MTD service workers stocked buses with the 2013-2014 Maps & Schedules Book. Today, August 11, our fleet hit the streets stocked with the new 2014-2015 Maps & Schedules Book. Please pick up a copy the next time you ride or grab a new edition at Illinois Terminal.

We can’t stress this fact enough so let’s put it in bold italics: The new routes and timetables found in the 2014-2015 Maps & Schedules Book begin with the start of service on Sunday, August 17 and not a moment before.

Please continue to reference the 2013-2014 book or our website for accurate map and schedule information for the final week of our current service year.

Rider Tools

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Our Trip Planner allows you to select a day in the future to get itineraries that reflect service changes.

Our Trip Planner is already loaded with the updated route and schedule information for the 2014-2015 service year including school trippers to area middle and high schools, reduced service when the University of Illinois is not in session, and regular service during the UI fall and spring semesters. To access this information, you need only set the calendar date to the future. Wait a minute, Doc. Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a Trip Planner? Precisely.

When planning your trip, enter your starting and ending points. The Trip Planner accepts addresses, intersections, and landmarks. After hitting enter, the next page gives you the option to set a few preferences. One of the choices is a date and if you click on the date, you can set the calendar for the first day of class at Parkland College (August 18), the first day of regular UI service (August 22), or the first day of class at the University of Illinois (August 25). The Trip Planner will adjust the resulting itineraries accordingly.

The data that feeds our developer-made apps operates the same way. So no excuses that you didn’t have enough time to study before the test!

Service Reductions

This week is the last week of our 2013-2014 service year as well as the last full week of our summer service reductions. Full regular UI service returns at the start of service on Friday, August 22. In next week’s post, we’ll cover the difference between a “UI Day” and a “Non-UI Day.”

Questions? Comments? We’re open doors in the comments below.

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Green Light: Waste Audit

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MTD’s Administration and Operations Facility is located at 1101 E. University Ave.

Setting a Baseline

MTD’s Administration and Operations Facility in Urbana recently took a test. This facility, as it so aptly named, houses the departments at MTD that manage our operations and administrative needs. A majority of the District’s 325-plus employees work out of these offices or report here daily.

Over 200 employees pass through the Administration and Operations doors daily, located at 1101 East University Avenue. Needless to say, we produce a lot of waste. But simultaneously, we have the opportunity to minimize our waste and increase our recycling impacts.

So that’s why we registered for the test, a waste audit, which was administered by Green Purpose. A local membership-based business, Green Purpose helps businesses and organizations achieve their sustainability goals by providing customized waste and recycling programs. They aim to improve an organization’s operating efficiency, maximize resource recovery efforts, and help lower overall collection costs.

MTD has enrolled our Administration and Operations Building in Green Purpose’s Zero Waste Program, which aims at ensuring that 100% of recyclables are truly being recycled. MTD is working to achieve the highest possible percentage of Zero Waste compliance.

Getting Dirty

We kicked off these efforts in early June 2014 with a full-scale waste audit. Before making changes to our current recycling system, MTD is first quantifying the various components of our waste/recycling stream, evaluating the effectiveness of our current recycling efforts, and identifying all areas where improvements are required. This will hopefully make the goals we set in the future attainable and measurable.

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Thanks to Green Purpose’s Sustainability Interns for sorting and auditing MTD’s waste and recycling!

The Green Purpose auditors analyzed trash and recycling from MTD’s Administration and Operations Facility for one week. Employees were not informed and no special instructions were given to change habits. Trash was collected in special clear plastic bags and delivered to the Green Purpose facility in Champaign for sorting.

Recyclable samples were sorted into six categories: cardboard, paper, plastics, aluminum cans, and glass. Waste and recyclables were collected, sorted, and weighed during the waste audit. The results of the audit are as follows:

Trash: 146 pounds

  • Trash in trash: 116 pounds
  • Recyclables in trash: 30 pounds
    • Mixed paper: 17 pounds
    • Plastics: 10 pounds
    • Glass: 2 pounds
    • Aluminum: less than 1 pound
    • Cardboard: none

Recycling: 145 pounds

  • Mixed paper: 88 pounds
  • Trash found in recyclables: 38 pounds
  • Cardboard: 12 pounds
  • Plastics: 4 pounds
  • Glass: 2 pounds
  • Aluminum: less than 1 pound

Total amount of waste (trash + recycling) = 291 pounds

After completing the audit, Green Purpose put together a report that will be used to help establish the baseline data for material generation, examine any existing issues that may threaten the success of an improved recycling program, and also give suggestions for ways to address any concerns that were raised.

Over 20% of the materials in our waste samples were recyclable, while over 25% of the materials in the recyclables were trash. Clear areas for improvement!

Making the Grade

Zero waste compliance report:

  • Pounds of waste generated per person: Grade = A
  • Percentage of material in waste stream that is recyclable or compostable: Grade = C
  • Percentage of materials that is recycled vs. thrown away and contamination percentage of recyclable trash: Grade = C

Green Purpose gave MTD several recommendations for improving recycling levels at our Administration and Operation Facility. We will begin moving forward with these recommendations right away!

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Designated Stops in Downtown Champaign

Do you board or alight an MTD route in downtown Champaign? If yes, then this post is a must-read!

Any route serving downtown Champaign will only serve designated stops beginning Sunday, August 17 at the start of MTD’s 2014-2015 service year. The boundaries for the designated stop corridor in downtown are Church Street on the north, First Street on the east, Springfield Avenue on the south, and State Street on the west.


MTD introduced designated stops to the University of Illinois campus and nearby areas over five years ago. The specified intersections and stops for boarding and exiting the bus improve on-time performance. Serving every possible intersection can make getting in and out of a busy area like campus even more difficult and time consuming. Designated stops turn, “board at every safe intersection” to, “board at approximately every other intersection.”

Designated stops also clarify for both passengers and operators where riders may hop on and off. This improves confidence and streamlines our service. Bus stop signs were placed at all the designated stops on campus, which helps the constant stream of newcomers, or new tenants, easily find their closest stop.

The same, we predict, will be true for downtown Champaign. Bus stop signs will be placed/updated at all designated stops. The routes and directions serving the stop will be listed along with the stop’s unique four-digit code. Passengers can text that code (ex. ‘mtd2746′ for Springfield & State) to ‘35890’ and instantly get the STOPwatch real-time departure information.

Getting Informed

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The 3/30 Lavender serves only designated stops in downtown Champaign beginning August 17, 2014.

Now that you’ve read our pitch, where can you look to find the designated stops for your route? Let’s start with the routes affected:

1/100 Yellow

2/20 Red

3/30 Lavender

5/50 Green and GREENhopper

6 Orange and ORANGEhopper

7/70 Grey

9A and 9B Brown

Designated stops in downtown Champaign apply across daytypes. The designated stops listed for each route remain the same between daytypes, barring any routing change already in place for the route. So if you’re riding the 5 Green Weekday Daytime, the designated stops in downtown Champaign are the same if you were to ride the Green in the evening or on the weekend.

A few of the routes affected already had designated stops and/or iStops (designated stops where neither an ID nor a fare are required to board) when serving campus and surrounding areas. Those designated stops remain in effect. The new designated stops in downtown Champaign are added to the route’s list of stops.

A list of a route’s assigned stops is featured on every route map in a designated stop box. This is displayed in the pages of our Maps & Schedules Book as well as in the Maps & Schedules section on our website. The designated stops are also marked on the route map with a white star encircled in pink.

MTD’s real-time information and our API (Application Programming Interface), which feed our website and developer-made apps, will reflect the new designated stops in downtown Champaign. For example, if you try to search for Logan & Market on our mobile website or in an app on August 17 or any day after, the stop will not report back any departure times because it is no longer a stop for any route.

Worth It to Check It

Not only should you be checking your route for designated stops, but it’s always worthwhile to double check the updated schedules. We shared the big changes at our public hearing on June 16, but small tweaks have been made across many schedules. Referencing an updated map and schedule before riding on August 17 or beyond is worth your time.

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Jump to page 5 in MTD’s Maps & Schedules Book to view a map of the designated stops in downtown Champaign.

One prime example is the change to the Illinois Terminal Universal Transfer. It now takes place at 6:35 am instead of 6:33. While those two-minutes may seem minor, it could add up to a several minutes of difference for your boarding point.

Ready to do your homework? We’ve posted the full PDF of the 2014-2015 Maps & Schedules Book on our website. The web schedules, maps, and data will be updated before the start of the service year. The physical Maps & Schedules Book is being printed this week! MTD will have the updated books at the Taste of C-U (August 15 and 16) and the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival (August 22 and 23). Another reason to come to these wonderful community events! We hope to C-U there.

We realize the addition of designated stops in downtown Champaign will require some change and patience on your part. MTD thanks you in advance. We’ll get through the adjustment period together and hopefully be better off for it as we enjoy improved on-time performance and clearer stop information. Thanks for riding.

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What’s a Hopper?

To increase frequency along corridors of high demand, MTD provides Hopper service on four different routes. Hopper trips increase the frequency of their parent routes while also providing more opportunities for transferring. Consider this post a 101 course in MTD Hopper service.

First Things First

"MTD" "Hoppers"

From left to right: Yasmine, George, Oscar, Olivia, and Gizmo

Let’s begin with introductions. Meet the MTD Hoppers: Yasmine, George, Oscar, Olivia, and Gizmo. All Hoppers operate year-round. Yasmine is the YELLOWhopper and operates during the weekday daytime only. George represents the GREENhopper which operates during the weekday daytime, weekday evening, and Saturday evening. Oscar and Olivia, the kids of the bunch, are found on the ORANGEhopper. The twins represent the doubled service to Champaign-Urbana’s two hospitals, Carle and Presence, during the weekday daytime. Last is Gizmo and he represents the GOLDhopper which also operates during the weekday daytime only.

Hopper Existentialism

Why does MTD have Hoppers? The short answer can be given in two words: frequency and connection. But this is a blog post so we’ll also give you the long answer as explained in our Maps & Schedules Book:

Hoppers primarily connect downtown Champaign, downtown Urbana, and the University of Illinois. High-frequency service makes it quick and easy to get to work, entertainment, medical, dining, and academic destinations in the downtowns, on campus, and all places in between.

Hopper trips cover the most heavily utilized portions of their parent route, but not the full west/east or north/south portions. This allows MTD to provide more service to the places of greatest demand.

Hopper 101

Passengers should know the difference between the Hoppers and their parent route. You may be able to catch both the regular route and the Hopper counterpart to get to and from your desired destinations. But if you can’t, you will need to make a distinction and the destination sign of the bus is key.

To distinguish the parent route from its shortened Hopper route, look for the “hopper” designation on the destination sign. Clarification is also provided in the destination sign for Hopper trips that offer alternative end points like on the YELLOWhopper and GREENhopper. You can also view the trip differences in MTD’s STOPwatch real-time data which is available on our website, API (which powers developer-made apps), and on our mobile website. The route schedules also highlight and detail Hopper trips.

The 1 YELLOWhopper operates on weekdays between Illinois Terminal and Gerty & Griffith or Illinois Terminal and Lot E-14 depending on the trip. The full 1 Yellow operates between the Champaign Walmart and the Savoy Walmart. The distinction between the regular Yellow and the YELLOWhopper, as well as whether it ends at Gerty & Griffith or Lot E-14, can be gleaned from the destination sign of the bus. It also detailed in the Yellow schedule. The full Yellow runs every 30 minutes, but with the added trips of the YELLOWhopper, passengers can get service every 10 minutes.

The 5 GREENhopper operates on weekdays between Washington & Lierman and Fieldstone at Horizon Hobby. The full 5 Green weekday serves the Main & Brady area and the neighborhoods around John & Goldenview with 30 minute frequency. When the Hopper trips are added, passengers riding within GREENhopper and regular Green boundaries have 15 minute frequency. The weekday evening GREENhopper operates between Sunnycrest and Parkland College. The Saturday evening GREENhopper operates between Sunnycrest and Country Fair. George the GREENhopper has the distinction of being the only Hopper to operate outside of weekday daytime service.

The 6 ORANGEhopper operates during the weekday daytime between Illinois Terminal and Lincoln Square or Illinois Terminal and University & Cottage Grove – near MTD’s Administration & Operations Facility. The regular 6 Orange operates between Butzow & Lierman and Country Fair with approximately 30 minute frequency. Thanks to the ORANGEhopper, passengers riding between Illinois Terminal and Lincoln Square get an Orange bus every 15 minutes.

The 10 GOLDhopper operates between Lincoln Square and Lot E-14 during the weekday daytime. Passengers requiring the full Gold have 30 minute service but those riding in the GOLDhopper area can grab a bus every 10 minutes. The full Gold operates between Highcross & Kyle in northeast Urbana and the Mattis & Devonshire area in Champaign.

Pro Tips

1. Reference a schedule to make sure the trip you’re taking is going where you want it to go. A majority of Hopper trips will act as summarized above. But to ensure your trip gets you where you need to go and when, do yourself a favor and check a paper or web schedule. You can also give us a call at 217.384.8188 and we’ll do it for you.

2. Know the difference between a designated stop and an iStop. All Hoppers operate along corridors with designated stops and/or iStops. This means that you can only board/alight at specified stops. Know your stops! The YELLOWhopper operates along an iStop corridor, which means passengers do not have to show an iCard, Annual/Monthly MTD Pass, or pay a fare at select stops. Just board and go! The GREENhopper only has designated stops, which means passengers must show their iCard, Annual/Monthly MTD Pass, or pay a fare upon boarding. The ORANGEhopper operates the same way. Gizmo the GOLDhopper is special as he features both designated stops and iStops. The different stops are clearly marked on the Gold route map and all other route maps.

3. Follow the striping. Hoppers are marked on system maps and individual route maps with two colored striping. This helps distinguish Hopper service paths from their parent route. The YELLOWhopper and the GREENhopper take on their own service paths, so follow the striping to make clear where the Hopper is going. The ORANGEhopper and the GOLDhopper follow their parent routing without deviation.

Was this guide helpful? Got a “what’s a…” question about a different service aspect? Let us know in the comments!

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MTD Receives Healthy Worksite Designation

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Stu Smith, Illinois Terminal Director, center, sat on a panel of other healthy worksite designees at Human Kinetics on July 1, when the announcement was made.

MTD is proud to announce that on July 1, 2014, we received a Bronze level Illinois Healthy Worksite Designation. The Illinois Healthy Worksite Designation program launched this year and was established to recognize workplaces across the state with healthy practices that benefit both employers and employees. The designation is sponsored by the Governor’s Council on Health and Fitness, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. MTD will hold the distinction for three years and is recognized state-wide by a Certificate of Achievement from the Governor’s Office [MTD Press Release].

MTD was one of six Champaign County employers to apply for the Healthy Worksite Designation. Statewide, 58 applications were submitted and 28 received recognition. Four applicants were recognized with Gold level, nine for the Silver level, and 15, including MTD, were designated Bronze level.

Providing Wellness Since 1985

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The first MTD Fitness Center may have been basic (and very orange), but it was an exciting offering for many employees.

A fitness center, funded by employees, opened in 1985 in MTD’s second facility located at 803 East University Avenue in Urbana. The goal, as stated in a News-Gazette article published in January 1984, was to provide “a way to improve employee health and performance and reduce costs associated with illness.”

When MTD opened its Administration and Operations Facility at 1101 East University Avenue in 2003, the Fitness Center was relocated. Today it includes over a dozen cardio machines, free weights, weight lifting equipment, and a stretching area. Participating employees elect to pay a fee every paycheck that goes towards access and maintenance costs. MTD spouses may also exercise in the Fitness Center.

Other benefits employees can enjoy are access to a personal trainer, health monitoring, and our Long-Term Fitness Program that awards employees for logging in high levels of exercise. Locker rooms are available for employees to store their belongings as well as take showers. This is perfect for operators working split shifts or for employees who bike to work. A bicycle repair shed is also available to employees along with bike parking.

An internal Wellness Committee is led by Stu Smith, Illinois Terminal Director. The committee of bus operators and maintenance employees meets monthly to discuss spending of the funds as well as special initiatives like the Long-Term Fitness Program and MYZONE activity monitoring belts.

“The Fitness Center and efforts of the committee are funded solely by the employee contributions,” explains Smith. “The fees cover our service contracts for the exercise equipment, investments in new equipment, and the gift cards given to employees in the Long-Term Fitness Program.”

"cumtd" "fitness center"

MTD’s Fitness Center offers employees variety and convenience, located at our Administration and Operations Facility.

Submitting an Application

In April 2014, Smith reached out to the Illinois Department of Public Health after discovering the worksite designation. “I had never heard of the program until someone in my Wellness Committee brought it to my attention,” said Smith. At the same time he discovered the program, Smith learned that the application was due in two weeks.

Smith connected with Tara McCauley, Special Projects Coordinator at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District for assistance in completing the application. “She was very helpful,” said Smith. “We met only a few times, by phone and in person, but it was enough to get the application in on time.”

The application included records of employee awareness pieces (pamphlets, internal newsletter articles, and posters), a description of programs (such as the Wellness Week we hosted in 2012 with a graduate student from the University of Illinois), and images of the facility itself.

Smith has led MTD’s Wellness Committee for over 10 years. He says achieving the prestigious designation is a testament to the people involved. “It bodes well for the committee and the time and creativity that we’ve put into health and wellness at MTD,” said Smith. “The designation puts our company on the map. We’re now known by the state as trying to make a difference in the lives of our employees.”

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