MTD became the operator of rural transportation in Champaign County on October 1, 2014. Formerly managed by CRIS Rural Mass Transit District, the Champaign County Board asked MTD to operate the service when CRIS declined their annual contract renewal.
MTD’s Special Services Manager, Drew Bargmann, said CRIS offered to get the program up and running but did not plan to manage the service long-term. “CRIS managed the system for three years and got it off the ground. Prior to FY2011, there was no rural transit service in the County – at all.” Bargmann will now manage the rural transit system out of MTD’s Administration & Operations Facility.
Division of Services
Champaign County is the recipient of federal and state grants to provide transportation to rural residents. MTD agreed to operate the service as the County designed it. Rural transportation in Champaign County is newly branded Champaign County Area Rural Transit Service (C-CARTS). Their website went live today! If you’d like to schedule a trip, please call 217.344.4287. This is the same phone number CRIS used. The offices have moved from 801 East University Ave in Urbana, to MTD’s Facility located at 1101 East University Avenue.
There is a distinct line between MTD operations and the added rural, C-CARTS operations. “MTD is not contributing any money to C-CARTS,” Bargmann said. “MTD operators will not be asked to operate the rural service and vice versa. No rural operator will be asked to operate MTD services.” 15 former CRIS Rural Transit employees became employees of the District.
MTD’s Maintenance Department has been servicing and maintaining CRIS’s eight vans. They will continue to do so and the payment for their labor will continue to come from the County. Just like with employees, no MTD vehicles will be put in service for rural transportation. Everything is kept separate.
So what service is available to rural Champaign County residents? C-CARTS operates Monday through Friday from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. Passengers need to schedule their trips 48 hours (two working days) in advance. The fare varies depending on the passenger’s age and destination.
An advisory group is managed by Champaign County to determine the needs of the service, develop it, and guide it as it grows. The service is structured around color-coded zones. Passengers wishing to take a trip within one zone pay less than passengers seeking to travel between two zones. Ridership in Rantoul is strong. Passengers travelling within the Rantoul-area pay $2 each way. Passengers wishing to go from Rantoul to Champaign-Urbana, for example, pay $5 each way.
“We’re keeping the current system structure as it exists with CRIS and as is determined by the County,” said Bargmann.
Thanks to the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission for their oversight and support with this transition!