July 27, 2017
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Memo to MTD planner: Breathe! (From The News-Gazette)

“In between earning an MBA from the University of Illinois, studying to become a yoga instructor, teaching a couple of yoga classes a week and spending a year in the American Public Transportation Association‘s Emerging Leaders Program, Jane Sullivan found time to be a key part of the team that secured $44 million in funding for Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District‘s MCORE project.” :Marcus Jackson/The News-Gazette

On MCORE: “‘The transformative impact that’s going to have on our community is just so exciting, so amazing to be a part of,’ Sullivan said. ‘Because I was able to be involved in the planning process, I’m able to see into the future of how beneficial this project will be whenever this construction mess is done. We know it’s a pain, and it’s difficult for everyone, but I’m able to visualize the benefits, and that’s really cool.'”

On being a forever student: “I’m trying to take a break,” [Sullivan] says, “but we’ll see how long that lasts.”

On giving her time to teach a yoga class at CUMTD: “I know how challenging it can be on the body to sit at a desk most of the day like most of us do and also to drive a bus,” [Sullivan] said. “I wanted to bring this to those people, so I started offering some free yoga classes to anyone at MTD, and you’re allowed to bring a guest, so that helps if you can bring your husband, your wife or a friend along.”

Learn more about CUMTD Grant Manager & Sustainability Planner Jane Sullivan in The News-Gazettehttp://bit.ly/2skd871.

Posted in Community Partnerships, CUMTD News, Just for Fun, MTDers | Leave a comment

An Insider’s Look at MTD on Marathon Day

The 2017 Illinois Marathon was a Boston Marathon qualifying race and an economic engine that drove over $10 million of impact in Champaign County, but what’s it like to run a bus system that same weekend? More on Medium: https://medium.com/@CUMTD.

Marathon updates were posted regularly on @CUMTD’s Twitter feed, including real-time pics from Chief Operating Officer Andrew Johnson, who worked the event near Illini Union. Photo Credit: Andrew Johnson

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All Aboard!

By Megan Connell & Jacob Rajlich 

Last week, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) shared a security camera still of a Siemens SC-44 locomotive passing through Illinois Terminal on our social media platforms. Given the large number of responses, we wanted to write a post showing the advancements that are “en route” for transit here in Champaign-Urbana.

Security still of a Siemens SC-44 coming by Illinois Terminal on a test train. Photo courtesy of CUMTD.

The new Siemens SC-44 “Charger” locomotives are jointly owned by Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Missouri and are leased to Amtrak for use on the Illinois corridor trains. A total of 33 locomotives will be used on the Midwest corridor, including the Chicago-Carbondale corridor which travels through Champaign-Urbana.

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans pulls into Illinois Terminal this past fall, with two GE locomotives. Photo courtesy of Jacob Rajlich.

The SC-44 is one of the newest passenger locomotives available today, with a design influenced by the appearance of European trains. It is powered by a 16 cylinder, 4400 horsepower Cummins engine. They can even reach a top speed of 125 mph!

These locomotives, built in 2017, are replacing Amtrak-owned GE P42DC locomotives, built between 1998 and 2001 which have run for millions of miles.

The SC-44 locomotives are in the process of being delivered, and should all be in service in late 2017 to early 2018, including on Amtrak’s Illini and Saluki lines.

Along with new locomotives, Illinois Terminal will also be served with brand new hybrid buses. MTD has taken delivery of 18 40-foot New Flyer XDE40 buses which will enter service later this year, replacing 18 older buses while maintaining the MTD fleet size of 111 buses.

One of the brand new 2017 New Flyer XDE40’s on MTD property. Photo courtesy of Jacob Rajlich.

Like the SC-44 locomotives, these new buses are also powered by Cummins engines. While similar in appearance to MTD’s 2013 and 2016 buses, these have a brand-new engine design, and meet stricter emission regulations.

The current plan is to replace some of MTD’s 40-foot 2003 New Flyers, along with both of the MTD’s 30-foot 2005 ElDorados.

One of the 30’ ElDorado’s being retired by the new 2017 buses. Photo courtesy of Jacob Rajlich.

With new vehicles on both the roads and rails, it’s an exciting time to be a transit fan in Champaign-Urbana. Stay tuned for more information on when we can expect to see the SC-44s and 2017s in service.

Jacob Rajlich is an operations intern at MTD and a sophomore in civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Megan Connell is an administrative intern at MTD who is studying public management at Indiana University Bloomington. 

Posted in Between the Lines, CUMTD News, Just for Fun, MTDers | 1 Comment

Neighborhood Meetings for Urbana Pedestrian Master Plan

Spring has brought beautiful weather to be outside–ideal for taking a walk.  Maybe you walk for exercise, perhaps to a park.  Maybe you walk your children to school.  Maybe you even live close enough to walk to work, to shop, or to a restaurant!

How do you get to an MTD bus stop?  Most likely, you walk!

If you walk for any of these reasons in Urbana, we want to hear from you!  The City of Urbana has hired the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) to develop its first ever pedestrian plan.  Recommendations developed for this plan might improve your walk to the bus stop!

When can I give my input?

CCRPC and the City of Urbana are hosting eight public input opportunities to get your input on walking in Urbana.  Anyone is welcome to attend any meeting.  We are almost halfway through these meetings, but fear not!  You have several more chances to talk to us about walking:

West & Downtown Urbana neighborhoods: Tuesday, April 25, 5:30-7:00 pm, Pizza M Back Room, 208 W. Main St.

University District: Thursday, April 27, 5:00-7:00 pm, Krannert Center, information table at Uncorked, 600 S. Goodwin Ave.

South & Southeast Urbana neighborhoods: Tuesday, May 2, 7:00-8:30 pm, Yankee Ridge School Gym, 2102 S. Anderson St.

Central Urbana (Historic East & Middle Urbana neighborhoods): Thursday, May 4, 5:00-6:30 pm, Urbana City Building, Council Chambers, 400 S. Vine St.

Citywide: Saturday, May 6, 8:00-11:00 am, Market at the Square, Walnut & High Street.

What are we doing at these meetings?

With the exception of Krannert Uncorked and Market at the Square, there will be a short presentation and several exhibit boards explaining the existing conditions that we have compiled thus far and the process for this plan.  At Krannert Uncorked and Market at the Square, staff will be available to explain this information to you.

At all events, we are asking for your input in three forms:

  • A walking preferences survey, asking about why you walk, and your feelings on walking on particular streets and neighborhoods;
  • A comment card;
  • A mapping activity, using large maps where we can record your typical walking trips.

Do you have kids?  Bring them!  We have walking coloring books that they can use while you work.

What other cool things are you guys doing at CCRPC?

Over the last few years, we have collected information on the approximately 700 miles of sidewalks in the Champaign-Urbana area to analyze the condition and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance of pedestrian facilities.  All of this information is now available for the public to view on the CUUATS Sidewalk Explorer website.

Recently, we have also worked with University of Illinois computer science students to develop the BikeMoves Illinois mobile app (check out this Inside Lane post from September for more information!).  If you bike in Champaign-Urbana, download and use the app; we want to know where people bike for an upcoming Urbana bike wayfinding study.

Stop by a meeting this spring!

RSVP to the Urbana Pedestrian Master Plan meetings is requested, but not required.  To RSVP or for more information, please contact Gabe Lewis, CCRPC Transportation Planner, at glewis@ccrpc.org or 217-328-3313.  You can also find more information online.  We hope to see you this spring!

This blog post was written by Gabe Lewis, Transportation Planner for the Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study (CUUATS), which is a program of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC).

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Green Light: MCORE Update

Construction for the Multimodal Corridor Enhancement (MCORE) Project continues! Here’s how it has progressed since the update we provided in early March.

Construction Progress

March and April were filled with saw cutting, water main construction, and sanitary sewer work on Green Street in both Champaign and Urbana. Illinois American Water is using MCORE construction activities as an opportunity to replace the water main in these areas. Access to properties is maintained via alternative routes and businesses remain open throughout construction.

Streets have opened up and tools will be put away in Urbana near the Illini Union to make way for the Illinois Marathon April 20 – 22.

The area in front of the Illini Union on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 has been cleared of construction in anticipation of the Illinois Marathon this weekend.

Meanwhile, work continues and the crew is waiting patiently until late May when University of Illinois graduation is complete to continue with additional road closures.

MTD Graffiti

We’re used to the occasional reroute, but the construction for the MCORE project has led to some major temporary stop relocations. MTD has been using all of our usual forms of communication—it’s all over our website and social media, and bus operators have been communicating it to passengers as well. However, the large number of stop relocations on such an active route has made it particularly challenging. And we know it may only get more complicated as construction continues.

MTD will mark temporary stops with blue spray paint.

In an effort increase communication and make the temporary bus stop locations more visible to passengers, MTD staff brainstormed many possible solutions… discussions about temporary signage brought us to the realization that there are not enough existing poles to utilize or enough space on these corners to install our own temporary poles and signs.

Finally, we came to a viable option: spray paint. MTD maintenance department created a custom-made stencil of the MTD logo. The stencil has been used to paint the logo on the sidewalk at each of the new temporary stop locations. When the temporary stop is no longer needed, we will remove the logo from the sidewalk. You can currently find MTD’s spray painted logo in Champaign along the 5/50 Green and 5 Green Express reroute:

Eastbound

Neil & Springfield (SE Far Side)

Springfield & First (SW Corner)

Springfield & Third (SW Corner)

Springfield & Fourth (SW Corner)

Fourth & Healey (NW Corner)

Green & Fourth (NW Corner)

Westbound

Green & Fourth (NE Corner)

Fourth & Healey (SE Corner)

Springfield & Third (NE Corner)

Springfield & First (NE Corner)

Neil & Springfield (NE Corner)

In late May, many bus stops along Green Street in Urbana will also be relocated north to Springfield Avenue. At that time you will find MTD’s logo sprayed a the temporary stops in Urbana as well.

Have you spotted MTD’s logo on a sidewalk in Champaign yet?

MTD uses our Flickr Page to give our community an inside look at each Project’s progress. Stay informed about MCORE on Facebook (@MCORECU), Twitter (@mcoreproject), and via email (mcoreproject.com).

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Out with the Old, In with the New (Flyers)

New buses are starting to arrive, but which ones go and when?

After we tweeted a picture of a new MTD bus arriving here in Urbana last week from New Flyer in St. Paul, MN, @pzr replied to us, “Wondering how MTD decides which buses to get rid of, when new ones are acquired. Oldest first? Worst maintenance record first?”

Both, we answered. Here’s more on our fleet and these new additions:

Any grant from the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) for the purchase of a bus requires a useful life of 500,000 miles or 12 or more years. MTD’s 2003 fleet has, at 14 years of age, met that requirement and those buses nearing the end of their useful life are being scheduled to be replaced. Our replacement schedule takes into consideration the age, mileage, and maintenance history for each vehicle.

In our fleet of 111, the oldest buses currently in operation include 29 40-foot New Flyer Standard Diesels from 2003, two 30-foot Eldorados from 2005, 5 30-foot Gilligs from 2009, and 12 articulated buses (which have a longer useful life in years because they are operated on limited routes and times) from 2001, along with 4 more articulated buses from 2009.

Last year, MTD purchased 12 buses and replaced only 3, increasing the size of our fleet by 9. 100% of the funding for those buses was awarded from a grant from the federal government.

This year, we have 18 buses on order, five of which arrived last week. All 18 buses are 40-foot New Flyer Diesel-Electric Hybrids, and they will be numbered #1713 thru #1730. We expect delivery of all 18 by the end of May. This purchase was made possible by state funding that provides 65 cents of every dollar spent.

There will be no net increase in the size of the fleet, however, as this year we expect to replace older buses 1-for-1. A final analysis is currently underway, so we’ll update you when we have the exact bus year/make/model and numbers that will be leaving our fleet.

And just what do we do with older buses when we replace them? That’s a post for another day.

Follow MTD on Twitter at @CUMTD & Instagram at @CUMTDBUS. 

 

Posted in CUMTD News, Just for Fun | 2 Comments

Model Employees

Another way some MTD employees take their “training” seriously. 

A long look at the club’s H0 layout.

MTD bus operator Paul Yoos was up early last Sunday. Arriving at Lincoln Square Mall well before the 10am start time, Paul made a few needed repairs to a track until another retired MTD operator took his place in the center of an approximately 24′ x 16′ model train layout. For the rest of the day, model and railroad aficionados took turns answering questions about model trains from the public at the Urbana Train Show.

As President of CU MTD Employees Model Railroad Club, Yoos is clearly comfortable talking with train enthusiasts and newbies alike. His love for trains is lifelong, and he was active for nearly a decade at the Monticello Railway Museum.

The club had also spent Friday evening unloading train sets, unpacking materials, and assembling the intricate layout.

An aerial view of an intersection in the club’s layout.

The MTD club’s layout is an operating H0 scale (1:87, or for those who like to be exact, 1:87.0857142) model. H0 scale (pronounced h-oh, not h-zero, and not ho) is the most popular scale of model railroads worldwide.

Established in 2005, the MTD club is voluntary and completely self-funded from member dues. Since 2006, club members have attended annual events like the Urbana Train Show and hosted open houses to display their trains at MTD.

After the show last weekend, the club repacked and loaded the layout for transport to its new home in MTD’s Maintenance, Safety & Training Facility at 803 East University, Urbana.

Visit MTD’s Facebook or Instagram for more photos from the show.

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Next Stop: Boneyard Arts Festival

In its fifteenth year, this vibrant, annual arts festival will permeate Champaign-Urbana & surrounds next Thursday, April 6 thru Sunday, April 9.


Champaign County, IL- 40 North, Champaign County’s Arts Council, will host their annual Boneyard Arts Festival throughout Champaign County over 4 days next week. The events will be held in over 100 venues and feature the work of local sculptors, painters and photographers, as well as performances by musicians, actors, dancers and more.

Even MTD buses will serve as galleries of sorts, featuring local art as part of our ongoing collaboration with 40 North for MTD Art.

Coinciding with Mom’s Weekend at Illinois, Boneyard draws thousands of students and community members alike. View participating local artists and peruse events, venues and mediums, then head over to cumtd.com to plan your trips on public transit.

Current MTD Art: Christina Nordholm, Lush, encaustic

“MTD ART began with an idea from a passenger. He noticed the interior advertising space on our buses and wondered if it could hold more than messages from community businesses and organizations. This passenger was also an artist, so when he called MTD’s Marketing Director Jan Kijowski he pitched the idea of community art submissions occupying some of the overhead panels.” :The Inside Lane, November 2013

 

 

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You Said Yes

University of Illinois students overwhelmingly vote YES on student fee referendum for MTD services.

On March 8th and 9th, University of Illinois students voted YES to continuing to fund the MTD at current rates through fiscal year 2021. The Illinois Student Senate resolution passed with a YES vote of 85% and a significant increase in voter turnout.

Thank you! MTD is proud of our partnership with the University of Illinois and we look forward to continuing to serve Campustown’s needs in ever evolving ways.  Since 1989, MTD has provided accessible transportation to Illinois administration, faculty and students, offering mobility options that include buses, ADA Paratransit, ZipCar availability, SafeRides home for Illinois students at night, and resources to encourage walkability, biking, and safety.

Your support and feedback are critical and appreciated and allow MTD to continue the good work of providing safe & reliable transit on campus. Please get in touch with suggestions or comments at 217/384-8188 or cumtd.com/about-us/feedback.

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Spring Break Service Reductions 2017

"MTD" "bus" "university of illinois" "hybrid" "Green Street" "pedestrians

Who knows what the weather will look like before, during, and after spring break. At least you can count on MTD rain, snow, and shine!

The University of Illinois Spring Break is coming up! MTD will reduce service beginning Saturday, March 18 through the following Saturday, March 25. We’ll return to full and regular service on Sunday, March 26.

You Know the Drill

The reductions are the same as those for Winter Break and are focused on campus.

The 12 Teal and 13 Silver operate 20-minute frequency during the weekday daytime. Trips on those schedules with the “U” footnote will not operate.

The 130 Silver Limited will operate during the weekday evenings and throughout the weekend. It’s important to review the map of the 130 Silver Limited because it is abbreviated from the regular Silver.

The 22/220 Illini Limited operates 30-minute frequency and limited routing during all day types. Regular Teal, Silver, and Illini routing and frequency will resume Sunday, March 26.

There will be no late night service (after midnight) on the 50 Green, 100 Yellow, 120 Teal, 130 Silver, and 220 Illini. 335 SafeRides operates reduced service during UI Breaks. Reservations will be made until 12:00 am and are served by one van. Designated pick up locations are not served. Full SafeRides service will resume the evening of Sunday, March 26 at 7:00 pm.

"myride" "MTD" "website" "alert" "reroutes" "routes" "maps and schedules"

Sign up for MTD’s personalized alert service, MyRIDE. It takes a few minutes to set up and MTD promises to keep your information on lockdown.

MTD will not operate Sunday evening and late night service on March 19. There will also be no 335 SafeRides because when the University of Illinois is not in session, MTD does not operate any evening or late night service. This also affects the 50 Green, 100 Yellow, 120 Teal, 130 Silver, and 220 Illini. Service will end on that day in the 5 o’clock pm hour.

Finally, the 2 Red Express trips, designated with “L” and “U” footnotes, do not operate Monday through Friday.

Stay in the Know

Sign up for MTD’s MyRIDE to receive personalized service reminders and alerts to your email and/or by text message. This will also come in handy as the MCORE Project advances.

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