July 27, 2016
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Preparing Local Students to Ride MTD

MTD is investing big time in local middle and high school registrations this year. New year registration is the perfect opportunity to connect with families early and get their child’s school year, and school transportation, off to a solid start.

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All through the town, through all kinds of weather, MTD is equipped to serve!

All Through the Town

We will send one Staff member and one Bus Operator or Information Assistant from our Customer Service Department to every single school registration. How many registrations are there? There are two days of registration for Urbana School District #116 totaling 14 hours. There are five days of registration for Champaign Unit 4 School District totaling 96 hours (Champaign middle and high schools each host their own registrations).

Many of these dates are considered make-up registration dates. But any student on any given day could be a rider! This year, MTD’s table will be equipped with:

  • A laptop with Wi-Fi connection to look up transportation options on our public website.
  • A school-specific binder filled with single sheet handouts for each morning and afternoon school tripper for distribution.
  • A magnet with “fill-in” space for the student’s customized morning and afternoon trip information.
  • A wide ruled notebook that features MTD’s school rules of riding on the inside front cover. These will be distributed to middle school students.
  • A FAQ about school transportation to answer general questions about valid school IDs, subsidized transportation eligibility, fare payment if the student is less than a mile and a half from their school, etc.

Community Partnership

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2016 Registration will feature customizable magnets and notebooks for families to take home and stay informed about their transportation service.

Providing transportation to the local middle and high schools is a significant undertaking that necessitates a lot of MTD’s resources on a daily basis. From our Maintenance Department providing extra vehicles to scheduling Operators to fill school runs, from Street Supervisors going to each school at dismissal to our Control Center locating lost book bags and musical instruments, this is a valuable community partnership.

The annual contracts for these services are negotiated by our Managing Director Karl Gnadt. He sits down with Urbana School District #116 and Champaign Unit 4 separately to agree upon contract terms. Both school districts appreciate the flexibility and opportunities our bus services provide. Not to mention, both Districts save significant amounts of money annually in transportation costs. How much? About $1.4 million annually for both Districts combined.

There are more opportunities to continuously improve the local school transportation MTD provides. For 2016, we’re focusing our efforts on school registration. What are your ideas for what we should focus on next?

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Designated Stops and How to Place Them

MTD’s 2016-2017 service year begins soon on Sunday, August 14! We covered the changes in May when a public hearing was held for public comment. Please be sure to check our website or reference an updated Maps & Schedules Book prior to riding in the new service year. Your usual trips may be unchanged but they may not be!

A significant change is the introduction of designated stops across the entirety of the 5/50 Green/GREENhopper/Green Express. On this blog, we referenced MTD’s Stop Placement Guidelines. This is a well-researched document that outlines how stops will be placed, consolidated, modified, and evaluated in the future.

Designated stops are not new to MTD’s service. But there are a lot of variables that go into designing our system and the bus stops that fill it in. So today we’re going to cover the four types of stops.

Nearside Stop

This type of stop is the most common in our system.

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Nearside bus stops are the most common in our system.

Advantages:

  • Eliminates potential for double stopping at signalized intersections
  • Allows closest crosswalk access to buses for passengers
  • Allows for boarding and alighting while bus is stopped at a red light
  • Provides the driver entire width of the intersection to pull away from curb and maneuver back into traffic
  • Minimizes traffic interference on the far side of the intersection
  • Buses enter intersection at lower rate of speed, increasing time for corrective action to avoid potential collision

Disadvantages:

  • Increases conflicts with right-turning vehicles
  • Increases sight distance problems for crossing pedestrians
  • Increases sight distance problems for other vehicles traveling in the same direction
  • May congest traffic in the through-lane during peak traffic hours
  • May encourage pedestrians to cross in front of the bus rather than behind the bus
  • May result in stopping at green light to board passengers and then sitting at a red light

Farside Stop

These stops, as you’ll read, can combat some of the disadvantages of a nearside stop.

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Farside bus stops are a good choice when a left turn needs to be made or the intersection is broken up by a turn lane.

Advantages:

  • Minimizes conflicts between right turning vehicles and buses
  • Provides additional right turn capacity by making curb lane available to other traffic
  • Minimizes sight distance problems on approaches to intersection
  • Encourages pedestrians to cross behind the bus rather than in front of the bus
  • Allows for shorter deceleration distances for buses since the bus can decelerate in the intersection
  • Allows bus drivers to take advantage of gaps in traffic created at signalized intersections
  • Can greatly improve travel times if coordinated with Traffic Signal Priority
  • Eliminates buses sitting at green lights to board passengers

Disadvantages:

  • Could cause traffic to queue into the intersection when stuck behind a bus stopped in the travel lane
  • May obscure sight distance for crossing vehicles and pedestrians
  • Can lead to buses stopping far side just after stopping for a red light
  • May increase rear-end accidents due to motorists not expecting buses to stop immediately after a red light
  • Buses enter intersection at higher rate of speed, decreasing time for corrective action to avoid potential collision

Midblock Stop

These stops are somewhat rare in our system. A recently added example of a midblock stop is at Campus Circle, the new apartment complex on University between Lincoln and Goodwin.

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The general layout of a midblock bus stop.

Advantages:

  • Minimizes sight distance problems for both vehicles and pedestrians
  • May result in waiting areas that experience less pedestrian congestion
  • Allows multiple stops to be combined at a midpoint distance

Disadvantages:

  • Requires more distance for no-parking restrictions
  • Encourages pedestrians to cross the street illegally at mid-block
  • Increases walking distance for passengers crossing at intersections

Off Street Stop

These stops are also rare. An example of this type of stop is Country Fair.

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Off-Street bus stops are less common but offer a safe and convenient place to pull out of traffic and board/alight passengers.

Advantages:

  • Provides safe access to bus stop
  • Can help generate additional ridership due to more customized service
  • Provides a safe layover point for buses at the end of a line
  • Lower chance of rear end collisions

Disadvantages:

  • Adds time to schedule to pull off of main roads to serve the bus stop
  • Creates potential conflicts with motorists and cyclists when merging back into traffic

When to Use Which Stops Where

An excerpt from our Stop Placement Guidelines:

The exact placement of a bus stop is influenced by several factors including safety, accessibility, comfort, and efficiency. The following chart lists several different scenarios that may be encountered along a bus route and identifies the preferred stop placement given that particular situation. While these preferences take into account a wide variety of issues, exceptions may be made in certain circumstances. Each bus stop should be evaluated in the context of that stop alone and the determination shall be made based on that evaluation.

And said chart:

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This table provides scenarios and how MTD tends to place the stop along a route.

Bus Stop Signs

Every designated stop along the 5/50 Green/GREENhopper/Green Express will have a bus stop sign. You can reference a complete list of all the bus stops to see where you can board or alight come August 14. Be sure to be aware of whether you’ll be traveling on weekdays, weekday evenings, etc. as routing changes for different dayparts. This means every stop won’t necessarily serve every daypart. You can also rest assured that if a bus stop sign is there, you’re good to go!

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Green Light: Environmental System Audit 2016

MTD’s Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) Team will entertain our ISO 14001 Auditor this week.

MTD was certified in the ISO 14001:2004 standard in September 2013. This certification is a big deal. To keep our certification, the ESMS Team is audited annually, usually in July, to prove compliance to the standard, a commitment to pollution prevention, and to show efforts towards continuous improvement.

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These magnets are created for employees to increase their awareness of the ESMS. They can be found all over our Maintenance Facility.

What is an ESMS?

We’ve blogged about this a lot, so please peruse our archive for more details and examples of our past environmental accomplishments.

Basically, any ISO standard is going to focus on this four step process.

  1. Plan – What do we need to improve? What’s a risk to our environmental performance? After identifying an opportunity for improvement, what steps are we going to take? How will we monitor and measure our progress?
  2. Do – This is where we get our hands dirty. Based on the aspect we’re working on, this step can involve developing standard operating procedures, emergency procedures, training, and purchasing new equipment or technology.
  3. Check – How’d we do? This step involves monitoring progress and measuring results.
  4. Act – How did that plan to reduce risk/improve go? Do we need more time? Resources? Training? If we accomplished our goals, we get to move on, if we didn’t, we need to go back to the planning step.

This system challenges the District to standardize our work as well as improve our environmental stewardship. This Environmental Policy applies to every employee of the District!

So when our auditor visits MTD this week, he’ll be looking through our documentation and records for evidence of the Plan, Do, Check, Act process.

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An example of an emergency response procedure written for our ESMS for the Maintenance Facility’s Aboveground Storage Tanks.

Maintenance Facility

In the past year, our Maintenance Facility has worked on several aspects. They included:

  • Increasing the lifespan of coach batteries with new procedure
  • Reducing the amount of Freon used with premature hose replacement
  • Decreasing the amount of nonburnable oil (the more burnable oil we have the better!) with new procedure
  • Work to eliminate all single-use batteries by phasing in rechargeable batteries
  • Replace 25% of energy used at our Maintenance Facility with renewable energy (hey, solar!)
  • Reduce paper consumption with new procedures

Illinois Terminal

MTD’s multimodal facility is also certified to the ISO 14001:2004 standard. Here’s what they’ve been working on:

  • Improve recycling by establishing a 1:1 ratio of recycling and waste containers throughout the building
  • Reduce energy consumption by installing LED lighting
  • Reduce paper consumption with new procedures

What’s Next

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released an update to 14001. The ESMS Team has begun work so we may transition to, and receive certification in, ISO 14001:2015. There were several significant changes in the 2015 standard, but we’ll leave that for another post.

For now, wish us thorough documentation and strong employee interviews this week! And please, share your questions and thoughts in the comments.

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Freedom Celebration Parade 2016

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MTD’s float was pulled by our Maintenance Tow Truck! It also sported our “1st Place Judge’s Choice” sign.

The Champaign County Freedom Celebration celebrated its 67th in this year’s Independence Day festivities! The 2016 parade theme was “Celebrate America.” A team of MTD employees came together to create a float entry that celebrated, you guessed it, America. Specifically, our float celebrated the landmarks across our great nation including the the Gateway Arch, Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore, the Space Needle, the Statue of Liberty, , the Washington Monument, and MTD’s Illinois Terminal.

We were honored to be given First Prize in the category of Judge’s Choice! Here are some pictures from the annual parade on July 4.

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This view of the float displayed the landmarks of Illinois Terminal, the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, and the Gateway Arch. Happy Independence Day, America!

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A close view of MTD’s Illinois Terminal alongside a miniature bus and the Champaign County Freedom Celebration trophy!

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This side of the float displayed the Washington Monument, Golden Gate Bridge, the Space Needle, and the Gateway Arch. Happy 4th of July, America!

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The back side of MTD’s float.

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We brought a 2013 hybrid bus to the parade as well! Of course, it was also decorated with red, white, and blue.

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A round of thanks to all the volunteers and community groups! They put forth a patriotic effort every single year to make the Freedom Celebration so spectacular.

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We’ll C-U next year!

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What is Illinois Terminal?

Put simply Illinois Terminal is MTD’s multimodal facility in downtown Champaign located at 45 East University Avenue. But this 17-year-old building offers more than meets the eye.

MTD Bus Services

Almost every route in MTD’s fixed-route service serves Illinois Terminal. The indoor and outdoor waiting areas provide a comfortable and sheltered places for passengers to wait for their connecting buses. Restrooms, vending machines, payphones, and an ATM are available for the convenience of our passengers. Buses board and alight on three different platforms – A, B, and C.

A Customer Service Center, located on the first floor, is staffed seven days a week with helpful representatives to assist in trip planning and navigation. They sell MTD’s Annual and Monthly Passes as well as All Day Passes for Saturdays and Sundays. The Customer Service Center also sells school tokens and rolls of adult tokens for community groups. Passengers who ride our ADA Paratransit Service can also purchase ride tickets at Illinois Terminal. We accept cash, credit cards, and checks.

This area also manages our Lost and Found Items. They put a lot of effort into sorting incoming items and returning them to their owners. Items not claimed after the two-week holding period are donated to local agencies like the Salvation Army and Lion’s Club.

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Bike lockers are available for rent! They are located at the Chester Street Viaduct in close proximity to Illinois Terminal and downtown Champaign.

Local Transportation Connections

One of the pieces to MTD earning our status as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Business was our extensive offering of bike services at Illinois Terminal. There is ample bicycle parking on the west side of the building, right next to a bicycle repair station. Bike storage lockers are available for rent under the Chester Street Viaduct.

These amenities give cyclists options. Combine these with bike racks on every MTD vehicle and the transportation flexibility only gets deeper.

Area taxi companies and ride sharing service, Uber, frequently serve Illinois Terminal on the west side of the building.

Regional Transportation Services

Amtrak pulls into the second floor of Illinois Terminal six times a day with three northbound trips and three southbound trips. There is an Amtrak Customer Service Desk as well as an electronic ticketing kiosk which are both located in the second floor waiting area. There are two routes that pull into Champaign. The first is the City of New Orleans and the second is called Illinois Service.

Burlington Trailways operates charter bus services. Illinois Terminal serves as a great meeting place for large groups embarking on regional travel!

Danville Mass Transit (DMT) operates fixed-route service, paratransit service, and evening dial-a-ride trips for residents in Danville, Georgetown, Tilton, and Westville. DMT also operates a service to and from Champaign-Urbana six days a week. It is called “10 Danville-Champaign.” You can purchase tickets for this DMT route at the Illinois Terminal Customer Service Center.

Greyhound has about five buses a day departing Illinois Terminal for locations in around Chicago as well as service to Kankakee and Markham. They have a ticketing office at Illinois Terminal on the first floor. It’s open seven days a week from 6:30 am to 11:00 pm.

Peoria Charter operates bus charters to several Illinois locations. There are 12 daily shuttles that connect riders to the Midway and O’Hare Airports and various locations in the Chicago suburbs. You can purchase charter tickets online and at our Customer Service Center. We accept cash and credit cards for these tickets.

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CityView hosted the February 2016 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce After Hours.

Offices and Shops

The remainder of Illinois Terminal is filled with tenants that include Subway Sandwich Shop (first floor), State Senator Scott Bennett‘s District Headquarters (second floor), and R.E.A.D.Y. School (second and third floor).

The fourth floor is home to MTD’s CityView, a banquet and meeting center with beautiful views of downtown Champaign. There is a north and south end of the space that is available separately or together for wedding receptions, corporate or club meetings, luncheons, or whatever event you’ve got in store. Visit the Facebook Page to see pictures of the space.

What services do you use at MTD’s Illinois Terminal? What questions can we answer in the comments?

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How to Ride a Reroute

You love to hate them, but reroutes are an inevitable square in MTD’s service quilt. Here are six steps to navigating a reroute.

Step One: Create a MyRIDE Profile

MyRIDE is our way of providing a customized transit experience. A pick your own fabric, if you will, of MTD’s route information. Little is needed when you sign up and MTD promises not to share your information with any other companies or organizations.

When you sign up, you’ll also get the opportunity to receive STOPtalk. This is our email newsletter filled with the latest happenings, updates on community projects, and useful information delivered once every two months to your inbox.

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Signing up for MyRIDE Alerts is the best way to get timely notifications about the routes you ride.

Step Two: Sign up for MyRIDE Alerts

Once signed up and in, MyRIDE will prompt you to select your favorite bus stops. These will follow you around our website whenever you visit and are logged in. The stops are clickable and will direct you to the latest bus stop departure information.

Next, you can select “My Alerts.” This enables you to select for which routes you’re interested in receiving reroute information. You can get the reroutes by email, by text message, or both!

When you select email alerts, you’ll receive an email with the reroute information as soon as it published. The full text of the reroute will be presented in the email. If you sign up for text message alerts, you will receive the subject of the reroute but not the full text. The full text includes all the routes affected, the expected duration of the reroute, and the alternative routing for each route.

Step Three: Check the Reroute Banner

The homepage of MTD’s website features a red “Reroute Alert” banner at the center. All routes currently impacted by a reroute and/or service reduction are reflected in the banner. This is an excellent way to, at a glance, see if the routes you’re riding are affected. All routes are clickable for further detail.

Step Four: Get the Whole Story

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This is the view of all reroutes in full detail. Note the option to view a specific route at top. Routes not currently impacted by any reroutes are grayed out.

If you click on “Reroute Alert,” you’ll be directed to a complete listing of all active reroutes in full text. You can narrow the view from “all” to a single route by using the subnavigation bar at top.

Reroutes usually begin with a short description of what streets and intersections are affected and why. An estimated end date is usually provided but this date may change due to factors like weather delaying construction and other unexpected variables.

Some reroutes are simple like a bus stop previously available is no longer available. Others, like those related to campus construction, can affect several routes and each route is given its own alternative service path.

Step Five: Determine if Your Stop is Affected

The initial description will detail the corridors that are impacted. If your origin or destination is within these corridors, then you’ve got some work to do. If not, then rest easy!

Depending on your familiarity with surrounding streets, you’ll need to read the reroute turn by turn to determine where your alternative bus stop will be. We recommend orienting yourself on Google Maps. This is an elaborate tool that offers zooming, street views, and more. MTD’s map and schedule data is published on Google Transit. You can view our data when you plan a trip by selecting the transit option or by clicking on the blue buses scattered throughout the map. The times presented are all scheduled departures not real-time, GPS-informed, departure times. Please note that the reroute will not be reflected on Google Maps – the data sources for short-term reroutes are not reflected in our data nor are they shared with Google.

MTD Street Supervisors also sometimes post physical signs at various stops along a route to help passengers at the stop navigate to the appropriate place. The signs are usually posted at the bus stop that is temporarily closed and detail where the passengers should go to board the bus.

You can also call us for help at 217.384.8188, send us a tweet or Facebook message, or submit a Website Feedback Form. We know you gotta get there and reroutes are just a temporary roadblock.

Step Six: Use Real-Time Tools with Caution

Departure times for bus stops affected by reroutes can be misleading. For long-term reroutes, ones that last more than two to three weeks, the alternative routing is put into our data sources. This means Bus Stop Lookup, our Trip Planner, and the data that powers our community-built mobile apps, will reflect the alternative routing and resulting bus stops. And when you’re checking for departure times or planning a trip, the impacts of the reroute will be adequately calculated.

But on the flip side, when we’re dealing with a reroute of short duration, a few days or one week, MTD will not update our data. This means departure times will still be displayed for bus stops that may be temporarily not served.

So what questions have we left you with? Post in the comments and let us know how we can make navigating reroutes easier.

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38th MTD Employee Awards Presentation

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In addition to individual certificates, plaques are engraved annually with honorees. These plaques are hung in the hallways of MTD’s Administration and Operations Facility.

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District has over 350 employees, many of who display exceptional commitments to service and safety. At our annual awards presentation, MTD and members of our Board of Trustees take time to give thanks and recognition to those who have served our community with exceptional quality. This year’s presentation was held on Sunday, June 5 and honored the accomplishments of 2015.

Service Awards

One of the (many) attributes MTD is proud to report is the longevity of our employees. At this annual awards presentation, we recognized employees in increments of five years of service starting at 20 years.

20-Year Service Award: Becky Adams (Bus Operator), Greg Cozad (Technician), Steve Ellis (Staff), Steve Freeman (Bus Operator), Steve Gannaway (Bus Operator), Karl Gnadt (Staff), Randy Hodges (Bus Operator), Steve Pittman, Jr. (Maintenance), and Dan Teegarden (Bus Operator)

25-Year Service Award: Eric Broga (Staff), Charles Hassell (Bus Operator), Ken Napper (Staff), Scott Rhodes (Bus Operator), Donna Sherwood (Bus Operator), and Stu Smith (Staff)

30-Year Service Award: Vern Chavez (Bus Operator), Sue Greer (Staff), Gordon Harris (Staff), and Steve Pittman, Sr. (Staff)

35-Year Service Award: Jennifer Bridgett (Bus Operator), Ken Gaskin (Bus Operator), and Charles Wilson (Staff)

Operator Safety Award

Operator Safety Awards are presented for having zero preventable accidents in the previous calendar year. Criteria also include excellence in customer service, performance, and attendance. Some operators accrue large quantities of these safety years!

20-Year Safety Award: Scott Rhodes

25-Year Safety Award: Beth Davis and Greg Williams

Outstanding Operator Award

Similar to the Safety Award, the Outstanding Operator Award recognizes quality attendance records and customer service performance.

In 2015, 62 bus operators met the criteria along with two of our ADA Paratransit Operators.

As with our Safety Award, there are Operators who accrue years upon years worth of Outstanding Operator Awards.

5-Year Master Operator Award: Jamie Castle, Doug Daly, Paul Damski, Joel Helmick, Davis Hissong, and Brad Robinson

15-Year Senior Operator Award: Mark Gendreau

25-Year Senior Operator Award: Luis Fonseca

Illinois Terminal Award

MTD’s intermodal facility, Illinois Terminal, has employees in three categories Customer Service, Maintenance, and Security. Three employees were honored as Outstanding in Maintenance and Security.

5-Year Master Illinois Terminal: Joshua Dhom

Maintenance Award

Employees in our Maintenance Department are recognized as Outstanding along with multi-year awards. This department is made up of Technicians and Service Workers. 14 Maintenance employees were recognized with the Outstanding distinction.

5-Year Master Maintenance: Dan Prutsman

15-Year Senior Maintenance: Steve Pittman, Jr.

2015 Employee Retirements

And finally, we bid a hearty thanks to our retirees of whom there were eleven. Their total years of service to the District were 338! The average amount of service was 30.7 years.

Steve Blunier – December 21, 1988 – Bus Operator

Thomas Costello – May 24, 1976 – Staff

Mark Cunningham – November 23, 1981 – Staff

James Dhom – May 18, 1976 – Staff

Edward Durkin – August 8, 1979 – Bus Operator

Brian Eichelberger – April 14, 1997 – Bus Operator

Rena Lenz – August 1, 1971 – Staff

David Moore – January 29, 1979 – Staff

Robert Patton – July 26, 1976 – Staff

Rick Robards – March 15, 2001 – Illinois Terminal Security

Gary VanDenBerg – January 27, 2003 – Bus Operator

Thanks to our retirees and all MTD employees for their service and continual commitment to public service.

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C-U’s Latest App: BikeMoves Illinois

This blog post was written by Hannah Russell, Bike Application Promoting Intern for the Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study (CUUATS) which is run by the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC).

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BikeMoves Illinois is a free mobile bike app that will be launched in late 2016.

This summer, the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) will be launching BikeMoves Illinois, a free mobile bike app allowing users to log their commutes. Currently, the app is still in the development phase, but CCRPC is still seeking testers during this second round of beta testing (that could be you)! There will be an official launch for the app later this summer when it opens to the public.

While there are similar apps on the market, this is the first app specifically designed for bicyclists in Champaign County. The app provides valuable data collection for transportation planners in the community to improve bike safety and connectivity in the future. And unlike other apps on the market, data collected using this app will not be shared with anyone outside of local transportation planners.

Using the App

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BikeMoves contains information of where the local bike paths and bike lanes are around Champaign County. (Android mobile user view)

The app is very easy to use and is compatible with both iOS and Android. First, head to the BikeMoves Illinois website to learn about the beta testing program and sign up for updates.

Prior to starting a bicycle trip, open the app, and press play! BikeMoves will begin recording your route using the GPS technology in your smartphone. If you want to stop anywhere, you can pause your trip and resume recording your route once you are back on your bike. Press stop at the end of the ride to have your trip recorded.

Why Develop a Local Bicycling App?

Bike infrastructure improvements and targeting key problem areas are recommendations outlined in current and previous plans developed by CCRPC. Previous plans include the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP): Sustainable Choices 2040 and Urbana Bicycle Master Plan. Currently being developed are the Champaign Park District Trails Master Plan and Savoy Bike & Pedestrian Plan.

Future Implications

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BikeMoves records your routes and will log information including distance, start and end location, calories burned, Greenhouse Gases Reduced, and average speed. (iOS mobile user view)

By using this app, transportation planners at CCRPC and MTD will benefit from learning about cyclists’ logged trips. They will be able to create a heat map of popular bike routes to be maintained, as well as receive comments about what areas bicyclists are avoiding due to various issues. Similar projects are being conducted in cities such as Atlanta, Austin, Philadelphia, and other communities around the country.

Planners at MTD will also be able to analyze this data to learn if cyclists are biking to and from bus stops and how many cyclists are using public transit. This information will further MTD’s understanding about how cyclists use their transit service to incorporate future changes along routes like location of bike racks at bus stops.

Safety First!

Along with improving bike infrastructure and bus routes, safety will also be a key element to improve upon. Knowing where there are high concentrations of bicyclists will help MTD inform their operators where to be alert for bike traffic. Also knowing areas with heavy bike and bus traffic will be helpful in deciding where new infrastructure should be incorporated in the future.

Don’t Delay – Sign Up Today!

For more information, check out the BikeMoves Illinois website. Sign up for our newsletter to get updates about becoming a beta tester, and get notified when the official launch date is set!

Posted in CUMTD News | 2 Comments

Summer Review 2016

This blog post was written by our Marketing & Communications Intern, Brittany Ramos.

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This is a 60-foot bus practicing maneuvers in a previous summer retraining.

Summer is in full swing, but school is still in session at MTD! Our employees are hitting the books with summer review beginning June 6.

Summer review is an all-day training session for any employee who holds a Class A or Class B Commercial Driver’s License. The goal of our Safety and Training Department is to have every employee who has either of those licenses attend a review once every two years.

The Safety and Training Department will work with six employees every Monday who have a CDL but are not bus operators. These include our staff and maintenance employees. Then Tuesday through Thursday, retraining will be filled by six bus operators. Friday classes will be filled with operators for MTD’s ADA Paratransit service and C-CARTS (Champaign County Area Rural Transit System). For all employee groups, their mornings will be dedicated to classroom time and the afternoons will be dedicated to driving time.

Behind the Desk

This year’s classroom curriculum brings in a variety of MTD experts to talk about their areas of expertise. The day will start out with Chuck Wilson, a veteran operator of 35 years and our Assistant Safety and Training Director of Instruction, who will address several safety topics. These range from driving through busy campustown to avoiding injuries and bloodborne pathogens.

Next, Amy Snyder, Customer Service Manager, will give a presentation about the logistics and etiquette of answering phone calls and how to use the new system properly.

Randy Fouts, Assistant Operations Director, will review how to report an incident. Incidents with MTD are rare, but informing our employees about handling them correctly is critical in the case that there is one.

We will then be moving on to a Q&A with MTD’s Chief Operating Officer, Bryan Smith. This is the time for employees to ask any unanswered questions and hear the thoughts and perspectives from an executive member of staff.

The final classroom presentation will be from our Payroll and Benefits Administrator, Debbie Bosch. She will review payroll procedures and employee benefits.

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Fire extinguishers ready for demonstrating!

Behind the Wheel

Our operators will spend the remainder of the day reviewing both basic and advanced driving maneuvers. Employees will be scored on their execution with points being added or deducted with each skill.

This evaluation will begin with a large passenger van before advancing to the bigger vehicles. Drivers are tested on aspects such as fueling the vehicle, securing it, and even using the fire extinguisher. A perfect score on the van evaluation is 200 points with points subtracted for mistakes.

Our next evaluation will move up a step to the 40-foot bus with different exercises tested such as turns, parking, distancing, starts and stops, lane sharing, and more. Drivers could gain up to 325 points for a perfect score.

Our next test will be the air brakes test, which holds 45 total points. This evaluation reviews the necessary techniques to monitor the brake system and when to use them. The Smith System, which is a defensive driving program, will then be tested in an even bigger 60-foot bus. This test is rated on a five-point scale, with five exceeding standards and zero for failing. The drivers will be tested on 32 different maneuvers.

After a busy afternoon of driving, operators complete their final evaluation of the day in another 60-foot bus, but this time it is for articulated bus maneuvers. This test is out of 100 points.

And just like that, our operators are finished with their review and heading back to the streets with a refreshed mind full of useful reminders!

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MTD Enhances Safety

Since 2006, MTD has voluntarily participated in the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Bus Safety Management Program. This is a three-year process consisting of a safety pre-audit, audit, and post-audit. This process allows the APTA Staff to familiarize themselves with our agency and give specific recommendations based on how MTD is operated. Because MTD has chosen to participate in this program for ten years, we’ve completed the full safety audit cycle three times!

This cycle also allows MTD to gain expert perspective on how to enhance safety and our services for both riders and employees. For 2016, MTD’s Safety & Training Department brought APTA in for the pre-audit phase. Here are some highlights of the safety changes implemented from this year’s findings.

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Two core trainers pictured address a class of new operators.

Training

All MTD bus operators are required to complete the ATTICUS Core Competency Training Program upon hiring. Operators are also required to complete re-training on this program every two years. This program focuses on safe performance and includes lessons on topics like fatigue while driving and maintaining a high level of attention.

Operating Environment

MTD developed Stop Placement Guidelines to establish safe and consistent selection of bus stops. This guide was published in January 2016 by MTD Staff and was reviewed by our Board of Trustees. There are many ways to approach safety at a bus stop. An excerpt from our guide:

Stops should have clear access for pedestrians. When possible, stops should be accessible from a sidewalk…Whenever possible, stops and surrounding areas should be well lit to promote visibility and provide a safe environment for passengers to wait.

Vehicle Maintenance

Our pre-trip inspection forms were modified to solicit daily checks and identification of the critical safety items onboard a vehicle including the air brakes, horn, and windshield wipers. Operators were already trained to identify these items during a pre-trip, but we formalized this portion of the inspection. These items were added to the Training Program as well as the Operator’s Daily Vehicle Report log.

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This charming holiday photo also displays the bollards at the front entrance of Illinois Terminal, which enhance safety.

Security

In October 2014, MTD installed bollards outside of the Illinois Terminal entrance based on recommendations by APTA Staff. MTD took the recommendation and investigated the costs and feasibility of the proposed installation. Bollards, which are a short vertical posts usually made of cement, reduce the risk of vehicles entering spaces they are not designated to use. In our case, up on the sidewalk or through the front doors of Illinois Terminal.

Results

Of the 23 safety elements upon which MTD was inspected, we accepted and enacted 35% of the suggested changes as of APTA’s last visit. 22% of the recommendations were already in place at MTD, while 26% are still a work in progress. Finally, MTD decided to not enact 17% of the suggestions due to variables such as satisfaction with current procedures or similar practices already in progress. MTD will next conduct the audit stage in spring 2017.

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