November 30, 2015
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What MTD is Thankful for in 2015

It’s the week of Thanksgiving. University of Illinois Fall Break Service Reductions are in effect. This Thursday, November 26, MTD will not operate so employees and their families can enjoy the holiday. A common Thanksgiving tradition as friends and family gather around a table is to say what each person is thankful for. Here are some of our top items from 2015.

Environmental Gains

In February, MTD was thrilled to snag third place in the Illinois Green Office Challenge. This competition among area office buildings (as far as Peoria and as close as Champaign-Urbana) sought to track achievements in energy and water conservation as well as waste reduction. Thanks to the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center for organizing the challenge and cheers to MTD’s Administration & Operations Facility for making top ranks!

We announced on the blog in March that we were expanding the fenceline of our Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) to include Illinois Terminal. This meant targeting new (and additional) significant aspects, developing standard operating and emergency response procedures, and a few rounds of employee training. MTD was thankful when our auditor visited last summer and certified both facilities the ISO 14001:2004 standard!

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This solar array was installed on the roof of MTD’s Maintenance Facility over a year ago and is generating substantial savings.

It’s been over a year since we turned on the 1,212 panel solar array on the roof of MTD’s Maintenance Facility. And in that year, we’re thankful that the solar energy produced replaced about 22% of the Maintenance Facility’s energy consumption. This prevented 201 metric tons in Carbon Dioxide Equivalents from entering the atmosphere. This is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions from 466 barrels of oil consumed, 215,446 pounds of coal burned, or the annual electricity use of 27.6 homes. These savings are equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 164 acres of U.S. forests in one year! We calculate a savings of about $26,200 from utilizing the energy from our solar array between September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015.

Expanding Fleet

We announced in November 2015 that new buses are on the way! MTD plans to purchase 12 40-foot diesel-electric hybrid buses in 2016. Three of the 12 will go towards the retirement of 40-foot buses from 2003. The remaining nine will, thankfully, go towards fleet expansion. This will bring MTD’s fleet from 102 buses to 111!

University of Illinois Transportation Contract

The transportation contract negotiated between the University of Illinois and MTD was up this year. In February, we raised awareness of the proposed service and fees by collecting student signatures. This allowed two campus transportation questions to make the student election ballot.

Both ballot measures passed with healthy ‘yes’ majorities! We’re thankful for the continued support from the University of Illinois. MTD is grateful to transport the students, faculty, staff, and retirees around campus and beyond!

Construction and Infrastructure Projects

Platform construction at Illinois Terminal took place in early spring. Work focused on the train platform and the land beneath it. The two month project was an inconvenience for many Illinois Terminal visitors because Platform A was blocked off entirely. But the benefits included increased safety, security, and aesthetic improvements on Platform A and the Amtrak boarding platform.

Construction continues at MTD’s Maintenance Facility. We’re thankful that demolition is done, the elevator shaft is built, and steel frames are going up and up! The upgrade will enable our entire fleet to be stored indoors as well as expand the offices of our Safety & Training Department. There is much to look forward to in 2016!

The Multimodal Corridor Enhancement Project (MCORE) is a $35 million project focused on improving mobility in the campus core. MTD is thankful for a year of planning and collaboration with the cities of Champaign and Urbana as well as the University of Illinois. An Open House in September marked substantial progress as members of the community were invited to view final plans for all five project areas.

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For this year’s Combined Charities Campaign, MTD’s CEO Karl Gnadt tolerated a unique fundraiser. Employees purchased pieces of tape and raised campaign awareness.

Our Outstanding Employees

Every year, MTD acknolwedges a year of labor and the employees who went above and beyond the call of duty. At the 37th annual MTD Employee Awards Banquet, 12 people were recognized for 20 plus years of service. These 12 employees accumulated 345 years of service to the District. Many more were acknowledged for a year of safety accomplishments and outstanding work in the categories of Bus Operators, Illinois Terminal, and Maintenance.

And it is work worth complimenting! Between January 1 and October 31, 2015, passengers and community members have submitted 80 formal compliments. Thank you!

In turn, MTD employees give back to our community, again and again, through the United Way’s Champaign County Combined Charities Campaign. So far, MTD employees have raised over $33,000 for dozens of non-profit organizations.

We could go on…2015 was a bus-tastic year with much to be thankful for. Share what you’re thankful for in the comments!

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Fall Break Service Reductions 2015

"no service" "Thanksgiving"

This art is currently posted inside all MTD buses behind the driver’s seat. “There will be no MTD service on Thanksgiving.”

The University of Illinois Fall Break begins this Saturday, November 21 and runs through the following Saturday, November 28. There are no classes for the University  the entire week of Thanksgiving. A majority of students will migrate out of the area over the weekend, which is why MTD reduces some of our campus bus service.

Service Affected

2 Red: The Express trips, marked with “L” and “U” footnotes will not operate Monday through Friday. These trips will resume operation on Monday, November 30.

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. The frequency is every 30 minutes.

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

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 22.

Sunday Evening & Late Night: Year-round, MTD’s Sunday service groups evening and late night routes. When the UI is not in session, the 50 Green, 100 Yellow, 120 Teal, 130 Silver, and 220 Illini routes do not operate late night service, as detailed above, but they also do not operate evening service on Sundays. This will affect Sunday, November 22. Regular SafeRides service, as well as evening and late night fixed-route service, will return Sunday, November 29.

There will be no MTD service all day on Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 26. Thanks for making adjustments so MTD employees can enjoy the holiday with their families.

Why is Service Reduced?

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The 13/130 Silver is one of the routes affected by UI Break Service Reductions.

University of Illinois students, faculty, and staff make up a large portion of our daily ridership. Every three years, MTD meets with the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and the Illinois Student Senate to come to an agreement on desired services and the resulting costs. Students vote to approve the proposed referendum concerning student fees. Currently, students pay a $59 transportation fee in the fall and again in the spring.

The fees and University contribution fund the high frequency service on the 1/100 Yellow and YELLOWhopper, 5/50 Green and GREENhopper, 10 Gold, 12/120 Teal, 13/130 Silver, and 22/220 Illini. These routes serve central campus locations with 10 or 15-minute frequency. These routes share their high frequency with corridors outside of campus like Country Fair, downtown Champaign, Lot E-14, downtown Urbana, and Sunnycrest. The community benefits from the ridership of the University students.

The student fees also help cover the costs of purchasing and maintaining 60-foot articulated buses that offer increased capacity. Our standard 40-foot buses just simply can’t cut it when 43,000 plus students are using the buses during the hourly class change.

Another service funded by the University is 335 SafeRides. Three vans operate a curb-to-curb service Sunday through Wednesday, and four vans operate Thursday through Saturday, through the wee hours to provide safe transportation to individuals travelling alone to areas of less frequented service. During UI Breaks, the service still operates but is curtailed.

From everyone at MTD, we wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

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I Forgot Something on an MTD Bus

This blog post was originally published on December 23, 2013. We’re reprinting it with a few tweaks as it is a common topic of inquiry.

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Leave something behind? Give us a call ASAP!

They come in the form of tweets…they are found in Facebook messages and posts…emails are sent through website feedback forms…what are they? Pleas for help.

Help! I left my [insert lost item here] on the bus, what should I do?

Responses are dispensed and the rider is (hopefully) on their way to recovering their forgotten item. Here are the steps these MTD passengers are given.

1) File a Lost Item Report

Step one is to call MTD Administration and Operations at 217.384.8188. While it may seem old fashioned, and inconvenient if you just left your phone on a bus, it is the route we prefer since this is the first step in a well-established and effective process. A customer service representative or a radio dispatcher will ask you a series of questions for the report. This includes a description of the item, route and direction of travel, bus number, time and location you boarded and alighted, where on the bus the item was left, and contact information.

This report is used by the radio dispatcher to identify the coach and page the operator. The more detail from the customer the better. At their earliest convenience, the operator will search the bus and update the dispatcher on whether or not the item was found.

If the item is found, the operator will drop off the item at Illinois Terminal‘s Customer Service Center where items are securely stored and logged. Or an MTD Street Supervisor will meet up with the bus, secure the item, and take it to the same location.

We recommend customers only call and complete a lost item report if they are calling on the same day their item was lost. If more than a day has passed, we direct customers to go directly to step two. This is because one bus is not assigned to one route. In one service day, which are nearly 24 hours long when the University of Illinois is in session, a single bus can operate on more than three different routes. Every bus also returns to our Maintenance Facility at least once before a new service day begins to be cleaned. These facts combined ensure that a lost item will not stay on board for more than one day.

"Illinois Terminal" "Customer Service Center"

The Customer Service Center at Illinois Terminal is located on the first floor.

2) Call Illinois Terminal’s Customer Service Center

Sometimes items are found by passengers or the bus operator before a report is filed. Other times, a service worker may discover an item while they are cleaning a bus. In the former case, the operator or a Street Supervisor will get the item to Illinois Terminal. In the latter instance, service workers put all found items in a box and once a day the items are delivered to Illinois Terminal.

You can call Illinois Terminal’s Customer Service Center at 217.384.3577 to see if your item was found. The Customer Service Center is open Monday through Friday 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturday 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Illinois Terminal Manager Stu Smith recommends people wait to call until 9:00 am.

“Items are usually dropped off at around the time of the 7:40 am Universal Transfer. So it’s better if people give our customer service staff some time to get organized,” said Smith. “It is unbelievable how many items are lost.” Illinois Terminal stores lost items for two weeks.

“There are policies in place for taking care of lost items that all MTD employees are responsible for following. We take a lot of time with this,” Smith said.

A statement is published in our annual Maps & Schedules Book as well as our website that MTD is not responsible for items left on buses, in shelters, on any MTD property, or not claimed in the two-week period. But as you can see from the information above, MTD employees take every effort to secure and return lost items.

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Green Light: MTD’s Fleet is Growing

Six years ago, MTD added its first hybrid buses to a fleet of 98 total buses. Today, MTD’s fleet has increased to 102 buses and the percentage of hybrid buses has increased from 9 percent to 54 percent. Next year, we’ll see those numbers change once again.

Expanding the Fleet

MTD plans to purchase 12 40-foot diesel-electric hybrid buses in 2016. The contract with New Flyer gives MTD the option of purchasing 35 additional 40-foot and 60-foot diesel-electric hybrid buses over the next five years. Nine of the 40-foot buses in the first order will be expansion vehicles and will not replace any buses in the fleet. This will increase MTD’s fleet from 102 buses to 111 buses.

MTD’s spare ratio is currently 9.68 percent, well-below the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) recommendation of 20 percent. Karl Gnadt, MTD’s Managing Director, explained the issue to Tom Kacich in an article published by the News Gazette on September 30, 2015:

“We have been operating with a smaller-than-recommended spare ratio for many years now, and what that means is that when we have all our vehicles out on the street for peak levels of service, the number of buses still in the garage that our maintenance crew can work on for preventative maintenance or repair work or for training new operators, we have only four or five vehicles as a spare ratio. That’s beyond bare bones for a really functional operation. That’s why we’re adding nine to the fleet size. I’ve had some people ask if we’re anticipating some major growth to our service. It’s just to get us back to a point where we’re better able to handle our resources.”

Aging Fleet

Three of the buses purchased in 2016 will replace 40-foot standard diesel buses purchased in 2003. The plan for additional buses is to replace the 2003 40-foot buses and 2001 60-foot buses.

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As this graph displays, a majority of MTD’s fleet is in the green with diesel-electric hybrid buses!

The Federally defined useful life of a heavy-duty bus is 12 years old or 500,000 miles (either requirement can be met first). 43 percent of MTD’s fleet has exceeded the age and/or mileage requirement. The District currently has 33 40-foot standard diesel buses purchased in 2003, all of which have driven over 500,000 miles. The District also has 12 60-foot standard diesel buses purchased in 2001, nearing 15 years old.

Going Greener

The 2016 bus order will bring the percentage of hybrid buses in MTD’s fleet to 60 percent. Diesel-electric hybrid buses consume less diesel fuel, which significantly reduces emissions. This leads to better air quality and fewer greenhouse gasses.

Particulate matter (soot), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), and other hazardous air pollutants are significantly reduced when a standard diesel bus is replaced with a diesel-electric hybrid. To reduce these pollutants even more, all MTD buses are built with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF).

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Each year the portion of brown, representing diesel buses, continues to shrink.

Funding for the contract with New Flyer will come from multiple sources. We anticipate utilizing 100 percent Federal funding for the initial purchase of 12 40-foot diesel-electric hybrid buses. The additional buses purchased in the future will be paid for with a combination of Federal, State, and Local funding.

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United Way Combined Charities Campaign 2015

"combined" "charities" "campaign" "champaign county" "donate"

To incorporate this year’s theme, Stronger Together, MTD’s Combined Charities Committee invoked the strongest of them all!

The 2015 Combined Charities Campaign (CCC) has begun in Champaign County! Organized by the United Way of Champaign County, this annual event facilitates donations to over 550 charitable organizations that operate at the local, state, national, and international levels. Donors can support all causes imaginable from hunger and homelessness to mobility needs and public libraries to parks and cancer research to care for children and families.

The CCC is a “workplace charitable-giving program that offers local public employees the opportunity to contribute to charities using the convenience of payroll deduction and more.” Area employers that also participate include the cities of Champaign and Urbana, Urbana School District 116, Champaign Unit 4 Schools, Urbana Park District, Champaign Park District, and more. The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Stronger Together.’

Why MTD Participates

At MTD, we put our hearts into supporting the Combined Charities Campaign. The over 350 employees at MTD are grateful to be employed in the beautiful cities we serve. With employees continuing to participate in ever-increasing numbers, it would seem the opportunity to give back is popular.

Karl Gnadt, MTD’s Managing Director, reminded employees in a recent internal newsletter article how cyclical the system of support is in our community.

“Please consider showing the community how grateful you are by giving to the Combined Charities Campaign. Giving to the campaign not only shows our gratitude, but it infuses even more support back into the community – creating this really wonderful feedback loop.”

MTD’s total employee participation was 50% in last year’s campaign! Through fundraisers and formal donations, MTD raised $41,781 during the 2014-2015 campaign. This contributed to the total raised in Champaign County, which was  over $200,764 with close to 765 donors. We’ll honk to that!

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Jeans Days are a popular incentive for MTD employees, a majority of whom wear a uniform.

Bus Passes for Human Service Agencies

A local organization many MTD employees choose to donate to is Bus Passes for Human Service Agencies. Managed by the Community Foundation, local agencies can receive funds to help purchase Annual and Monthly Passes for the populations they serve.

Jeans Days

MTD’s internal Combined Charities Committee decided to host a four-week campaign that began October 19 and ends November 13. One feature of the campaign is four jeans days – available to all employee every Wednesday during the campaign.  The $5 donation allows the employee to break uniform and break out their dungarees. We’ve also upped the ante to include a baseball cap for favorite sports teams. Each week’s donations are directed to a popular charity.

So if you see your operator wearing jeans this Wednesday, thank them! If you see an Illinois Terminal employee sporting a Chicago Bears cap, thank them! And thanks to you, Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy, for allowing us the opportunity to serve.

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How to Ride the Bus: Student Edition

This blog post was written by Samantha Kammerer, MTD’s Marketing and Communications Intern. She is a junior at the University of Illinois in the College of Business.

With the weather getting chilly and the possibility of snow quickly approaching, this is the time to make sure you have the bus system down. As a student who took advantage of the bus service from day one, I’ve had my fair share of experiences. I admit I have taken the bus in the wrong direction, but I learned how to overcome this sometimes daunting service. In this post, I’ll explain what I learned over the years and share my advice on how to ride the bus.

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The 1 YELLOWhopper serves Armory & Wright.

The Basics

Below are the bus routes that are most beneficial to UIUC students. Depending on where you live, on or off campus, these routes will ensure that you get to (what I think) are the most common destinations. As a student with an iCard, you are able to access any and all bus routes throughout the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District.

1/100 Yellow: The Yellow runs through campus but also connects you to other areas of the community. The Yellow goes from the Savoy Walmart, through campus, to Illinois Terminal, up to Marketplace Mall, Target, and the Champaign Walmart.

5/50 Green: As the name sounds, the Green travels down Green Street, the center of campus, to connect you to downtown Champaign and downtown Urbana.

10 Gold: The Gold route runs from Lincoln Square, west on Springfield Avenue, south on Goodwin Avenue to go past Krannert, west on Gregory to the Main Library and Ikenberry Commons, and finishes near Memorial Stadium and the State Farm Center. The Gold and GOLDhopper combined run every 10 minutes during the weekday daytime only.

12/120 Teal:  The Teal runs from FAR/PAR residence halls, north on Goodwin Avenue, west on Green Street, and then west on White Street. This route runs every 10 minutes on the weekday and every 20 minutes on the weekday evenings and weekends.

13/130 Silver: The Silver goes from FAR/PAR residence halls, to the Main Library, Transit Plaza, east on Green Street and Springfield Avenue, to end at Lincoln Square. This route runs every 10 minutes during the day and every 20 minutes on the weekday evenings and weekends.

21 Raven: The Raven is a newer route for the UIUC campus, but similar to both the Teal and the Silver. That’s because the Raven travels on both the west and east sides of the Quad! It goes from FAR/PAR to west on Pennsylvania, north on Sixth Street past the BIF, to the Transit Plaza, then east on Green Street to serve the Illini Union, and then south on Goodwin Avenue to pass Krannert. The Raven also serves Vet-Med on weekdays. This route runs every 30 minutes.

22/220 Illini: The Illini is the all-encompassing route. It goes from FAR/PAR residence halls, to ISR residence hall, to Krannert, to the Main Library, to Ikenberry Commons, north on First Street, to the Transit Plaza, then east on Green Street, and up to ONE North and South on Lincoln Avenue. This route runs every 10 minutes during the weekday daytime, weekday evening, and Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Hoppers: Of the routes listed above, the Yellow, Green, and Gold routes have Hopper service. A Hopper means it does not travel the entire length of its parent route from start to finish. Instead, these routes travel just between the downtowns and campus to help increase frequency and bus access. The GREENhopper combines with the regular Green to provide a trip every 15 minutes. The YELLOWhopper and GOLDhopper partner with their parent routes to offer a trip every 10 minutes.

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This 60-foot articulated bus is operating as 13S Silver and is serving Springfield & Harvey.

Which Bus Route is Mine?

If you do not know what bus you should take, there are many ways to figure it out. First, there is the MTD website. On the landing page, you can use the Trip Planner and the Bus Stop Lookup features. The Trip Planner allows you to enter your starting and end destinations with the ability to choose your arrival or departure time, date, and maximum walking distance. The resulting itineraries will tell you everything you need to know about your trip.

Bus Stop Lookup allows you to see which routes serve a bus stop and when they will be departing next in STOPwatch real-time. In the Maps & Schedules section, you can view every map and timetable for the weekday, weekday evening, and Saturday and Sunday day and night services. The mobile site for MTD is basically the Bus Stop Lookup feature compacted for your browser.

Other resources include applications for your mobile device. Check out the staff picks in MTD’s App Garage for apps built by community developers.

Other non-electronic options for figuring out the bus system are the shelter boards posted inside bus shelters. The shelter boards display maps and scheduled departure times for the stop.

There are also Maps & Schedules Books on every bus. Take note of the designated (assigned) stops for some routes, especially on campus, which are marked with a star symbol. These are the only stops that buses will serve. Another symbol you’ll see is the orange iStop symbol. An iStop means that anyone getting on the bus does not have to show an ID or pass or pay a fare. Some routes, like the Green, do not have iStops. Therefore, they require students to show their ID even on campus. It is recommended that you have your ID ready, especially as you reach off campus locations.

Once you have your route figured out, it is time to ride the bus! Most campus stops are marked with a bus stop sign, which lists the routes that serve the stop, a shelter with maps and timetables, and/or a STOPwatch kiosk. These kiosks have real-time information on an LED and LCD screen.

All buses have the route number, name, and end destination on the front of the bus. Look at this to make sure you board the right bus headed in your direction. If you are not at a stop that is densely populated with students or at a designated stop, please wave at the bus driver as they approach. You can double check your route with the bus driver. As you travel closer to your destination, pull on the yellow cord about half a block in advance to request the stop. If there are no people at a stop and no stop is requested, the bus driver will not stop.

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Mentioned several times in this post, the Transit Plaza is located on Wright Street between John and Daniel.

Parting Words of Wisdom

My advice to students is to plan ahead. Figuring out the bus routes and how to ride the bus comes with practice. But as long as you know where you want to go and the route to ride, it is pretty easy. I always double check my route and the scheduled times to make sure I am getting where I want on time. If you have questions ask other students and bus drivers, contact MTD on social media, or take an adventure and ride a bus route from start to finish! Once you have the routes figured out, the cold weather will not phase your travels one bit.

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Upcoming Outreach Events

MTD wants to see you! We’re attending several outreach events in October and we wanted to be certain you got an invitation.

Diesel Power Open House

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MTD’s Technicians are highly trained and in high demand!

MTD’s Maintenance Department will send representatives to staff this event at Parkland College on Thursday, October 15. It runs from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Visit our booth to learn which fields of study we employ.

The open house will have information on Automotive, Collision Repair, Ford ASSET, Diesel Power Equipment, Case New Holland (CNH), Electronics, HVAC, Industrial Technology, Construction Design & Management, Engineering Science, Trades, and welding.

Ride the 5 GREENhopper, 7 Grey, 9A Brown, 9B Brown, or 16 Pink.

Campus Housing Fair

The leasing calendar turns over quickly on campus. Students are asked to re-up with University Housing or re-sign leases before the end of October. And just in time, is the Housing Fair on Thursday, October 15 at the Illini Union South Lounge B and C. Resources will be available from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

MTD will be there to help you compare transportation options for locations you may be considering.

Ride the 1 Yellow/YELLOWhopper, 2 Red, 4 Blue, 5 Green/GREENhopper, 8 Bronze, 9A Brown, 9B Brown, 10 Gold/GOLDhopper, 12 Teal, 13 Silver, 21 Raven, or 22 Illini.

disABILITY Resource Expo

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The Champaign County Area Rural Transit System (C-CARTS) helps connect residents across the county.

Not to pick favorites, but this is one of MTD’s top annual events. This year’s event returns to the Fluid Events Center from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. We blogged about last year’s most frequently asked questions.

As mentioned in that post, MTD staff will have information on our services including fixed route, ADA Paratransit, and the Half Fare Cab Program. We can also answer questions about DASH Passes and the rural public transportation provider, C-CARTS.

Ride the 70 Grey or 180 Lime.

University All Employee Expo

The All Employee Expo is a combined effort among Staff Advisory Council (SAC), Council of Academic Professionals (CAP), Academic Human Resources (AHR), and Staff Human Resources (SHR). The Expo will be on Tuesday, October 20 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in rooms A, B and C in the Illini Union.

MTD will bring copies of our latest Maps & Schedules Books, rider tools, and some goodies to leave you with that bus lovin’ feeling.

Ride the 1 Yellow/YELLOWhopper, 2 Red, 4 Blue, 5 Green/GREENhopper, 8 Bronze, 9A Brown, 9B Brown, 10 Gold/GOLDhopper, 12 Teal, 13 Silver, 21 Raven, or 22 Illini.

Other Noteworthy Events

We’ve covered the need for nationwide advocacy to pass a long-term transportation funding bill. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is hosting a nationwide “Voices for Public Transit” Town Hall on Wednesday, October 14 at 1:00 pm CST. Join the call.

The Color Run returns to Champaign on Saturday, October 17. Runners will get colorful all around Market Place Mall. This will result in reroutes on the 20 Red and 100 Yellow. So riders, beware!

The Illinois Homecoming Parade is on Friday, October 23. This will impact evening service as primary campus corridors will be closed. Stay tuned for reroute information! And, of course, ride the 280 tranSPORT to the Homecoming Football Game on Saturday, October 24. The Fighting Illini take the field against the Wisconsin Badgers at 2:30 pm. This means the tranSPORT will begin operating at 12:30 pm.

The R.E.A.D.Y Program is housed on the second and third floors of MTD’s Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign. The alternative school program maintains close ties with MTD and Illinois Terminal employees. To celebrate this partnership, MTD is hosting a career fair on Thursday, October 29. MTD staff from all departments will chat with R.E.A.D.Y. students about their career journeys.

Did we miss something? Want to invite MTD to an event you’re hosting? We’d love to come! Let us know in the comments.

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Green Light: Solar Energy Check-in

MTD’s 296.94 kilowatt photovoltaic system has been generating solar energy since August 2014. Now that our solar array has a full year of clean energy generation under its belt, we thought we would check in and see how our panels are performing.

Crunching the Numbers

Solar panels on the roof of MTD's Maintenance Facility

1,212 solar panels sit on the roof of MTD’s Maintenance Facility in Urbana.

During the period of September 1, 2014 through August 31, 2015 MTD’s solar array produced 290,885 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity. This solar energy was fed directly into MTD’s Maintenance Facility. Any excess solar energy generated is fed back into the grid and MTD is provided credit. During the same period, the Maintenance Facility consumed 1,021,333 kWh of electricity from the utility provider.
The solar energy produced on our site over the past year replaced about 22 percent of the Maintenance Facility’s energy consumption. This prevented 201 metric tons in Carbon Dioxide Equivalents from entering the atmosphere. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, this is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions from 466 barrels of oil consumed, 215,446 pounds of coal burned, or the annual electricity use of 27.6 homes. These savings are equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 164 acres of U.S. forests in one year! We calculate a savings of about $26,200 from utilizing the energy from our solar array during this period.

Graph showing production and consumption for Maintenance Facility from September 2014 through August 2015

Total electricity consumed in MTD’s Maintenance Facility from September 2014 through August 2015. The breakdown of solar production and electricity consumed from the utility provider is shown in orange and grey.


See for Yourself

A unique aspect of MTD’s solar array is our commitment to transparency. A monitoring system continuously tracks the energy production and this information is shared with the public in real time. The public can view this data at any time online and building occupants and visitors can see the live data on display in the Maintenance Facility. 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.

The Sun’s Shining on Champaign-Urbana

Up until completion of the 5.87 megawatt solar farm (whoa!) on the University of Illinois campus, MTD’s solar array holds the title for the largest photovoltaic system in Champaign-Urbana. There are also homes and small businesses throughout town who have taken the initiative to install solar panels. We are proud to be part of a community making great progress on renewable energy consumption.

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International Walk and Roll to School Day

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International Walk and Roll to School Day is an annual event that brings awareness to safe routes to school.

“In my day, we walked to school! In the rain, in the snow, and it was uphill both ways!” said your parents, grandparents, or maybe even you, dear reader. This story is usually told to a youth perceived to be ungrateful about the ease of their modern day existence.

Well, MTD and many other community groups believe there’s something to this walking to school bit. So on Wednesday, October 7 several Champaign and Urbana schools will participate in International Walk and Roll to School Day. And they’ll be in good company. Thousands of students, parents, and communities representing more than 4,300 schools across the United States have pledged to walk, roll, and bicycle to school as well. Events are held annually in 40 different countries.

Ten area elementary schools, four in Champaign and six in Urbana, signed on to participate. Each school is taking their own twist on the morning event and some will even welcome local officials and Fighting Illini athletes.

Locally, school events are organized by the Champaign-Urbana Safe Routes to School Project (C-U SRTS) in cooperation with MTD, C-U Public Health District, City of Urbana, City of Champaign, University of Illinois, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, and the Urbana and Champaign School Districts.

Why Elementary Schools?

Safe transportation to and from school is elementary. This young population is the perfect inspiration for quality roads and sidewalks. They are also at a great age to start developing healthy transportation habits early.

Creating safe routes to school for pedestrians, cyclists, students, and families of all physical abilities, is critical to making active transportation possible. Walk and Roll to School Day shines a spotlight on the importance of safe routes, which also goes hand in hand with increasing physical activity among children, decreasing traffic congestion, and improved environmental sustainability.

This year’s participating schools are:

  • Bottenfield Elementary
  • Carrie Busey Elementary
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary
  • Dr. Williams Elementary
  • Leal Elementary
  • Robeson Elementary
  • South Side Elementary
  • Thomas Paine Elementary
  • Wiley Elementary
  • Yankee Ridge Elementary


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Walk and Roll to School participants in 2013 at Yankee Ridge were accompanied by City of Urbana council member Diane Marlin and a City of Urbana Police Officer.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day. Walking to school, to the bus stop, or to a friend’s house, is a great start to reaching this recommended goal.

In 2009, 203,000 children ages 15 and younger were injured in motor vehicles crashes; 15,000 of those injured were pedestrians (NHTSA, 2011). It takes time and attention from all roadway users to make it possible for everyone to walk safely, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.

All participating schools are provided Walkability Checklists. These are completed by school staff and families to report specific areas needing attention.

Walking and rolling to school are also better for the environment. Fewer emissions help improve air quality. (MTD is doing our part, too!)

There are many more benefits to our community when active transportation to school is supported. Share your favorite benefit in the comments. And we’ll see you next Wednesday for Walk and Roll to School Day!

Posted in CUMTD News | Tagged , , , , , | 273 Comments

Multimodal Corridor Enhancement (MCORE) Project Open House

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The displays at the MCORE Project Open House included animations of the new and enhanced traffic flow.

Last week on Thursday, September 17, the partner agencies and consultants of the MCORE Project hosted a public meeting to get input on final designs for the five project areas.

Around this time last year, we blogged about the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant awarded to our community. We covered the partner agencies (MTD, City of Champaign, University of Illinois, and City of Urbana) seeking to improve mobility through the core of our community with improved and enhanced infrastructure. The partner agencies put up 55% of the funds needed ($19,178,138) and the Federal (TIGER) Grant came through with the rest and awarded $15.7 million.

The $35 million dollar project targets portions of Green Street, White Street, Wright Street, and Armory Avenue. So, this you knew. So what’s taken place in the last year since the grant was awarded?

Meet the Consultants

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An attendee views the summary of bus enhancements which include STOPwatch kiosks, level boarding at transit platform, bus shelters, and transit platform islands.

Consultants were hired to provide expertise and rigorous research to realize quality mobility transformation in each of the project areas. The agencies include Clark Dietz, Inc., Hanson Professional Services, T.Y. Lin International, Millennia Professional Services, Third Coast Design Studio, Site Design Group, Ltd., The Roderick Group, and Engineer Research International.

Each consulting agency offers professionals with different industry expertise including engineers (structural, geotechnical, and field), landscape and architecture specialists, sustainable designers, utility coordinators, and drainage experts. The consultants are also working to help the five projects maintain ADA compliance along with complete street designs.

Months of Collaboration

After the grant was awarded and the consultants were hired, the partner agencies began meeting regularly. Jane Sullivan, MTD’s Grant Manager and Sustainability Planner, serves as one of the MTD representatives.

“The partner agencies and consultants have discussed every single decision presented in the now public project plans,” said Sullivan. “Each partner agency comes to the table with their own agenda. And at first, everyone might not agree.”

While all partner agencies agree on the overarching project purpose, the real-life selection of those details is more complicated. MTD seeks to improve service to our passengers. We want to see projects that make riding the bus easy and safe for all users. The University is thinking about the campus flow and the ease of access to visitors. And then the cities are looking at the big picture, the community at large.

“We didn’t always start the meetings with 100% agreement, and sometimes it took a four-hour meeting, but all four agencies did meet in the middle,” Sullivan said. “Ultimately we all want streets that are safe and functional for all modes of transportation.”

The partner agencies also need final approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) who is responsible for monitoring the funds and execution of the grant. The agencies continually keep IDOT in the loop as plans for each project are developed.

Project Schedule

Because of the nature of the grand funding requirements, the five projects have been divided into two phases.

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This map displays all five projects and their boundaries.

The first phase includes Projects One through Three. Project One is on Green Street from Wright to Busey. Project Two is also on Green Street from Neil to Fourth. And Project Three is on White Street from Second to Wright and on Wright Street from White to Springfield. Bid Letting is scheduled to occur for Projects One, Two, and Three in June 2016 and construction is slated to start August 2016. The target for Substantial Completion, which means the streets are open to traffic and safe for use, is late 2017.

The second phase includes Projects Four and Five. Project Four is on Armory Avenue from Fourth to Wright and on Wright Street from Armory to Springfield. Bid letting is expected to occur early in 2018 with construction beginning in spring 2018. Substantial Completion for Projects Four and Five is expected in late 2019.


The MCORE Project is committed to maintaining frequent communication. The website is updated regularly and the team has Facebook and Twitter accounts dedicated to the project. You can also sign up for email updates and submit project questions.

All travel modes will be impacted when construction begins! MTD will distribute detailed reroute information as soon as timelines are finalized. Thanks for making adjustments and let’s look forward to a healthy and active community core.

Posted in CUMTD News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 110 Comments

Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District
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Urbana, IL 61802-2009
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