August 21, 2014
Receive our e-newsletter here.

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?

"13 Silver" "FAR" "PAR" "students" "university of illinois" "cumtd" "bus"

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.

"Facebook" "Twitter" "blog" "" "youtube" "flickr" "app garage" "bus"

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!

Posted in CUMTD News | 1 Comment

MTD’s 2014-2015 Service Year Begins August 17

"CUMTD" "MTD" "Maps & Schedules Book" "2014-2015"

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

"CUMTD" "MTD" "Trip Planner" "calendar"

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.

Posted in CUMTD News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Light: Waste Audit

"CUMTD" "MTD" "Administration" "Operations"

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.

"Green Purpose" "waste audit"

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!

Posted in Green Lights | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

"3 Lavender" "designated stops" "map" "downtown Champaign"

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.

"CUMTD" "MTD" "designated stops" "bus stops" "downtown Champaign"

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.

Posted in CUMTD News | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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!

Posted in Between the Lines | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

MTD Receives Healthy Worksite Designation

"cumtd" "health worksite designation" "human kinetics" "press conference" "panel

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

"cumtd" "fitness center" "1985"

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.”

Posted in CUMTD News | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Green Light: Environmental Compliance Audit

In September 2013, MTD’s Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) was certified by the ISO 14001:2004 standard. At the time of certification, MTD was the sixth transit agency in the country to achieve ISO 14001:2004 certification and the first in the state of Illinois.

We’ve explained what this certification means, so now we’re taking the opportunity to remind you of MTD’s enhanced commitment thanks to the certification.

Routine Check-Ups

MTD’s ISO 14001:2004 certification is “good” for three years. Part of the certification agreement is annual auditing to ensure we are still adhering to the International Standard. Because the ESMS MTD created had never been certified, MTD’s ESMS Team underwent three audits last year:

  • Preliminary Assessment in March 2013: Preparation for Stage 1 Assessment, auditor familiarized himself with MTD’s system and fenceline
  • Stage 1 Assessment in April 2013: Documentation review and planning, main goal is to see how effective our system is in all 17 sections of the Standard
  • Stage 2 Assessment in July 2013: Auditor ensures MTD’s policies, objectives, programs, and procedures are effectively put into practice, and that there is a planned systematic approach for improvement, also meets with senior management
"indoor air quality" "renewable energy" "ISO 14001"

Significant aspects are targeted to reduce their impact on the environment and the threat of pollution. Each year we add new ones and the auditor checks our work.

For years two and three, MTD will only undergo one audit per year. We are scheduled for Surveillance Audits in July 2014 and July 2015. The first Surveillance Audit is next week!

Surveillance Audits confirm that MTD’s approved management system continues to be maintained, be in operation, and deliver continual improvements. The auditor will also consider implications of changes to our system and consider whether we continue to meet the certification requirements.

In other words, these annual audits keep the District’s environmental commitment (which includes monitoring, measurement, goal setting, training, and more) in a constant state of improvement.

And Then?

After MTD maintains our ISO 14001:2004 certification for three years, in July 2016, we will need to go through Certificate Renewal. It will be the same process that we went through in 2013 (detailed above) but likely with a new auditor so we can continue to challenge ourselves.

Each audit lasts at least two full days. After each audit, MTD receives an audit report noting any findings that need to be addressed. The report findings are also made available to MTD’s Board of Trustees.

The audit process allows MTD to maintain continual improvement. If we loosen our grip or ignore the ESMS at all, our certification is at risk. The auditor can take the certification away after a surveillance audit, or fail to renew the certification at a Certificate Renewal audit. Our credibility, commitment to sustainability, and all the horn tooting we do, would be threatened.

It is possible for an agency to implement an ESMS without certifying it to the standard. But at MTD, we value the strict requirements that come with certification and the opportunity to have an outside expert audit our system.

Posted in Green Lights | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Congratulations and Thanks, Bill Volk!

"CUMTD" "MTD" "Bill Volk"

MTD’s Managing Director, Bill Volk, retired June 30, 2014 after serving the District for 40 years. Photo Credit: Mass Transit Magazine

Today, June 30 is MTD Managing Director, Bill Volk’s last day. He is retiring from the District after serving in the role of Managing Director for 40 years. Well, 40 and a half years to be exact, his first day was January 28, 1974.

Please join us for an open house celebration today from 4-6 pm at CityView at Illinois Terminal, located on the fourth floor.

The accomplishments and significant milestones achieved over the decades under Volk’s leadership are numerous. Volk is quick to credit the District’s success to the long-tenure of other MTD employees. Six senior staff in particular provide over 200 years of combined service to the District – averaging over 30 years of service each.

“The stability created by the longevity of other employees have enabled me to concentrate on forward looking efforts while they managed outstanding day-to-day service with a 98% customer satisfaction rate,” said Bill Volk in a farewell letter to employees.

Annual Ridership in the Millions

"public transportation" "newspaper" "photos" "balloons" "MTD" "CUMTD"

The week of December 1, 1975, MTD celebrated it’s millionth passenger. At the center of this memory board is the t-shirt they distributed to several lucky riders.

When Bill Volk arrived in Champaign-Urbana in 1974, after working at public transportation agency in Fort Wayne, Indiana, annual ridership at MTD was 708,272.

1975: 1,104,445

1975 – MTD built and moved into a new facility in Urbana, located at 801 E University Ave.

1977: 2,086,348

1977 – A transportation contract began with the Champaign Unit 4 School District that continues to this day!

1980: 3,091,478

1981 – MTD purchased a second neighboring facility located at 803 E University Ave in Urbana.

1983 – MTD became the first public transit agency to have a fully accessible fleet with the specifications of low floor buses.

1986 – The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) awarded MTD Outstanding Public Transportation system.

1986 – A transportation contract began with the Urbana Unit 116 School District that also continues to this day.

1989 – University of Illinois students approveed a semester student fee for unlimited bus access through a transportation contract. The contract is renegotiated and renewed every three years. The next renewal is in 2015.

1990: 5,499,317

1991: 7,430,873

1991 – APTA awarded Bill Volk Public Transportation Manager of the Year.

1992 – MTD’s facility at 803 E University is expanded to accommodate additional bus and parts storage as well as more servicing bays.

1994: 9,223,320

1994 – APTA awarded MTD Outstanding Public Transportation System, again!

1999 – Illinois Terminal, MTD’s intermodal facility, opens its doors to bus riders, AMTRAK passengers, the R.E.A.D.Y. School, tenants, and other local and regional transportation providers like Danville Mass Transit District and Greyhound.

2001: 10,102,665

2002 – A computer aided dispatch/automatic vehicle locator (CAD/AVL) technology is installed system-wide. STOPwatch real-time departure information is launched and made available to the public through MTD’s website.

2003 – MTD moves into a third facility at 1101 E University Ave that houses Administration and Operations.

2005 – The Small Transit Intensive Cities (STIC) Funding formula passes. Bill Volk helped develop the formula and pass the legislation. The program provides additional funds for systems that provide a “level of transit service far greater than their size and density characteristics would typically suggest” (Source).

2012: 11,107,631

2013: 12,028,172

2013 – MTD is certified under the international standard ISO 14001:2004 Environmental and Sustainability Management System Standard.

2014: 13,200,00+

"Bill Volk" "Karl Gnadt" "CUMTD" "MTD" "Board Meeting" "Managing Direcotr

Bill Volk and Karl Gnadt at the July 2013 MTD Board Meeting when Gnadt was awarded the position of Managing Director.

What’s Next?

As the District bids farewell to Bill Volk along with many other dedicated staff, employees will look to our new Managing Director, Karl Gnadt. Starting as an intern at MTD, serving as the Managing Director of Danville Mass Transit, then returning to MTD to work as the Director of Market Development in 1995, Gnadt’s knowledge and passion for transit are evident. A welcome article from Gnadt is featured in the June-July issue of our email newsletter, STOPtalk.

In a letter to employees, Gnadt reflected on the impact Volk has had on his career and personal development. “Let me just say thank you to Bill Volk. Bill, you have been a mentor and a friend to me for close to 25 years now. You have played such a huge part in shaping who and what I am. How I view the world. What I do and how I do it. You have so much to be proud of – and I hope that I will be one of those things. You’re a hard act to follow, so I’m not going to try. I’m just going to do the best job that I can.”

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District is a vastly different agency today than it was 40 years ago. With advances in service, accessibility, university transportation, technology, sustainability, and more, the community should look forward to 40 more years of quality service and innovation. Where should we turn next, Chambana?

Posted in Training | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bus Operator Summer Review

School may be out for the summer, but here at MTD classes are in session. Bus Operator Summer Review Training began June 9 and continues through August. Every summer, classes of operators are brought in daily to spend time with staff in the classroom and with trainers out on the road.

Morning, Classroom!

Report time is 7:00 am. Jim Dhom, Safety & Training Director provides a year-in-review for 30 minutes. He covers safety reminders, issues (good and bad) from the past year, and areas to focus on in the coming year.

Then between 7:30 and 9:00 am, four different staff people come through to give presentations on sustainability, market research results, website training, and employee benefits.

The final presentation is from Adam Shanks, Safety & Training Director Designate. Shanks covers attention performance and improved awareness through a one-hour training that provides operators with resources they can tap into while driving.

Afternoon, Bus Roadeo!

This year, Dhom and Shanks put together a bus roadeo of activities. Five experienced MTD trainers guide the operators in summer review through six different rounds of activities. Each lasts 45 minutes. Drivers rotate through five different skills in each of the six rounds (which gives each operator one break). The first rotation begins at 10:15 am and the day is shut off at 2:45 pm.

Skill 1: Evacuation, Fire Extinguisher, and Wheelchair Securement

Vehicle: 2011 40-foot bus

"CUMTD" "MTD" "practice fire extinguisher" "fire"

The best time to practice using a fire extinguisher is when the fire is planned and controlled!

"fire extinguisher" "safety"

Bus fires are rare but they happen. Knowing how to use the tools available in an emergency is key to safety!

Skill 2: Air Brake Test and Maneuvers

Vehicle: 2011 40-foot bus

The air brake test is one portion of the Commercial Driver’s License test along with three driving maneuvers. Pictured below is one of the three; it is called a judgment stop because the operator cannot see the cone once s/he gets very close to it.

"CDL maneuver" "judgment stop"

The bus approaches the judgement stop.

"judgement stop" "maneuver" "cone"

The operator must be six to twelve inches from the cone in order to pass.

Another maneuver operators are doing is parallel parking a bus. This is a new maneuver and will be added to the Illinois CDL test this year. Nearly every operator in summer review will be doing this maneuver for the first time.

"parallel parking" "bus" "cones" "cumtd" "mtd"

A new maneuver for MTD operators and the CDL test.

Skill 3: Smith and Safety Drive Evaluation

Vehicle: 2013 40-foot bus

This skill involves driving around the community. But the difference from day-to-day work is having the close examination of an MTD trainer.

Skill 4: Serpentine

Vehicle: 2001 60-foot bus

This maneuver is impressive! A 60-foot bus snakes through a line of cones to prove awareness of the articulated bus’s pivot point. And of course it is (ideally) completed without hitting a single cone.


"serpentine maneuver" "60-foot bus" "articulated"

The bend in a serpentine maneuver is extreme. The bus gets close to a 45 degree angle so it can pivot around the cones.

"serpentine" "maneuver" "cumtd" "MTD" "bus"

Close to the cones is good with this maneuver! But if a cone goes down, so does your score.

"serpentine maneuver" "cumtd" "mtd"

Around the cone the other way!

Skill 5: Smith and Safety Drive Evaluation

Vehicle: 2011 60-foot bus

The goal is the same as in Skill 3 only this time the operator is in a 60-foot bus instead of a 40-foot.

Cheers to Dhom, Shanks, and MTD’s knowledgeable trainers for planning another year of Summer Review Training!

Posted in Training | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

36th MTD Employee Awards Presentation

"CUMTD" "MTD" "service" "safety" "awards"

Four tables were filled with employee acknowledgements for outstanding service and safety.

Then and Now

MTD employees gather annually to celebrate each other’s commitment to service and safety. This year’s ceremony was on Sunday, June 1 and celebrated the accomplishments of 2013. The first awards presentation took place in 1978.

Back then, MTD was seven years old and annual ridership was just over 2.5 million. All operations, from bus maintenance and dispatch, to administration and phone answering, were accomplished out of one building located at 801 East University Avenue in Urbana.

Today, MTD is 43 years old and ridership for fiscal year 2014 was over 13 million. The 350+ District employees are spread across three locations: Administration and Operations Building, Maintenance Facility, and Illinois Terminal.


The award categories include service, safety, outstanding operator, outstanding retired part-time, outstanding special services, outstanding Illinois Terminal, outstanding Maintenance, and acknowledgement of multi-year outstanding statuses in each. Members of MTD’s Board of Trustees helped present the awards alongside MTD’s Managing Director Bill Volk and Assistant Managing Director Tom Costello.

The requirements to meet “outstanding” in an employment category are lengthy. From our press release on June 12, “Operator Safety Awards were presented for having zero preventable accidents in the previous calendar year. Criteria also include excellence in customer service, performance, and attendance.”

“Luis Fonseca was presented a 40-year Service Award; Dennis Harper, Dave Jackson, Barry Sloniger, and Morrie Trees were presented 35-year Service Awards; Tim Stephens a 30-Year Service Award, and Fred Buttitta, Tim Emery, Larry Fredrick, Mark Gendreau, Steve Heater, Ray Thomas, and Gervaise Williams 20-Year Service Awards.

“Multi-year Outstanding Operator Awards were given to Doug Weaver and Charles Wilson (25 years), John Bedient and Brad Neumann (20 years), Vern Chavez, Sam Steenbergen, Paul Taylor, and Gervaise Williams (15 years), Kevin Brown and Merle Colclasure (10 Years), and Jeremy Blunier, Steve Freeman, Steve Mutch, Tom Thiel, Nancy Wehling, and Robin Welch (5 years). Multi-year Outstanding Maintenance awards were presented to Steve Ellis, Trai Nguyen, Mike Chubb, and Charles Lutz.

“Operations Service Recognition awards for Outstanding service were presented to 78 employees. Outstanding MTD Maintenance Service and Illinois Terminal Recognition awards were presented to 21 employees, and five Special Services Operators were recognized for outstanding performance.”

Bill Volk’s Last Presentation

"CUMTD" "MTD" "awards" "volk" "costello"

Volk shakes hands with a 2013 Outstanding Operator. At the podium is Tom Costello, MTD’s Assistant Managing Director, who served as the evening’s emcee. Members of MTD’s Board also helped distribute awards.

This year’s awards presentation marked the final year with Bill Volk as the District’s Managing Director, a position he has held for 40 years. Volk is retiring on June 30, 2014. He has presented MTD employees with awards since the tradition began. Volk addressed employees at the end of the event, thanking everyone for their commitment to service excellence. Volk encouraged employees to always remember, “You’re in the people business. We’re here to serve.”

Posted in CUMTD News | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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