MTD gets grant for hybrid buses

MTD gets grant for hybrid buses

Officials at the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District got a nice surprise Tuesday: word that they were one of five bus systems in Illinois to win a Federal Transit Administration Clean Fuels grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation.

"We did not apply for this grant. IDOT applied for it, and we're one of the recipients," said Bill Volk, managing director of the Champaign-Urbana MTD. "This is a discretionary, competitive grant."

It was unclear Tuesday how many buses the local MTD would receive out of the allocation to Illinois. IDOT said the $5 million grant would buy up to 10 hybrid buses for fleets in Champaign-Urbana, Peoria, Galesburg, Rock Island and Kankakee.

Volk said he believed Champaign-Urbana would get "two or three" of Illinois' allocation.

The MTD already is scheduled to get 13 new 40-foot hybrid buses in the next two months, in addition to 23 already on the streets. Within 18 months, Volk said, about half of the MTD's 99-bus fleet would be made up of hybrid buses.

"This is another step toward replacing our aging fleet and coming up with a hybrid system that is quieter, saves on fuel costs and has cleaner emissions," Volk said. "We are very happy with this announcement."

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rosshooper wrote on November 16, 2011 at 9:11 am

Another hugh grant, of money forcefully taken from hard working productive people, to run empty buses and overpay incompetant bureaucrats.  All these huge buses could be replaced with volkswagens and still not fill all the seats.  How do they get by with it?? 

cretis16 wrote on November 16, 2011 at 9:11 am

WOW...and I thoght we had a deficit? Plenty of money to waste and go around...if we run short, we'll just pile on some more taxes.

SilentGeorge wrote on November 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm

3 more buses to tear up the streets around town.  At least they won't be full.  Next thing you know I'll have to pay more for gasoline to fix the streets.


i'll bet the MTD will lower their tax rate at the next meeting because of the "free" money they were awarded.

The Real Luke wrote on November 17, 2011 at 10:11 am

I've been riding the busses 2-3 days a week for the last month or so (ever since the first cold snap), and I have yet to get on an empty bus.  Granted I'm riding at rush hour, and on a popular section of the route, but I don't find your comment very convicing, when I can't find a an empty seat on the bus half the time on my way to work.

The Real Luke wrote on November 17, 2011 at 10:11 am

" Another hugh grant, of money forcefully taken from hard working productive people, to run empty buses and overpay incompetant bureaucrats."


As one of those hard working and productive people, I have a few counterpoints:

  1. I pay taxes.  More than a lot of people, since my income is slightly above average.
  2. I ride the bus to work several times a week in the winter.
  3. The bus is often standing-room-only on the route that I ride.
  4. The hybrid buses are a big improvement in the service -- they're quieter, smoother, more cmofortable, and they pay for the hybrid premium in fuel savings.

What's not to like?  I'm happy to pay whatever taxes are required to support the bus system.

I can and do drive to work on occasion, but the bus is cheaper and far less annoying than driving my beat up old pickup truck in heavy traffic.  At 9am on the bus route I ride, there's often 50-60 people on the bus -- can you imagine the traffic and parking problems that would occur if we all drove by the ones and twos?  Not to mention the half a million dollars that this bussload of people would have to spend to buy used commuter cars($10k ea * 50 = $500k), plus  the fuel we'd waste by driving when we could just all pile on a bus.  And, yes, the removal of bus service would likely cost me at least $10k (and possibly as much as $30k) to buy a vehicle suitable for daily commuting.

If you'd put up with all of that, and make me pay ten grand, to "save" a few cents a year in taxes, then I suppose your comment makes sense.  But I personally would much rather pay the extra taxes, share a standing-room-only bus with 60 of my closest friends, and spend the money that I save on taking care of my wife and 2-year-old son!