Champaign-Urbana MTD sets hearing today on route, schedule changes

CHAMPAIGN — Officials with the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District will hold a hearing today on a number of what are called "relatively small changes" in their routes and schedule.

But a more significant change — limiting the locations where passengers can get on and off buses — may be a year away.

The hearing on route and schedule changes to go into effect this fall will be at 4:30 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Illinois Terminal, 45 E. University Ave., C. That hearing will be preceded at 3 p.m. by a public hearing on the MTD's $38.7 million operating budget for the upcoming year.

The most substantive change for this fall, said MTD Managing Director Bill Volk, is the creation of a new line, known as the Ruby, to serve parts of northeast Urbana up to Airport Road north of Interstate 74.

"Most of these are relatively small changes," Volk said, "with some schedule changes on the Yellow and Blue routes and changes on the Lavender from Dobbins Downs up to the North Prospect area so that we serve Meijer, Wal-Mart and Aldi."

The Lime Line schedule will be revised so it has improved connections to the Green Line.

The biggest change this fall, Volk said, will be to change what is known as the Northeast Direct service — a demand-response van service — to the fixed route Ruby Line using a bus. The route will run from downtown Urbana up Cunningham Avenue up to areas both west and east of U.S. 45 north of Interstate 74. The route will have a 40-minute service frequency, Volk said.

"We're basically phasing out the direct services because in many cases it's too hard," Volk said. "We have enough people that it makes it hard for us to meet the demand with one vehicle on a demand-response basis. It also relies on the operator using a cellphone to talk to the individual passengers. We're trying to get away from that from a safety standpoint."

More than a year away, Volk said, is a change that would affect every MTD route.

"I don't know when it's going to happen, but we're working on trying to consolidate bus stops throughout the community. We've done it in the (University of Illinois) campus area already. What we're looking at is consolidating the stops and marking them all with bus stop signs."

Passengers would be able to board and depart buses only at designated stops.

"It's confusing for new people in the community because most systems stop only at bus stops that are marked. We're unusual in that regard," Volk said. "I'm sure we're going to get some pushback on that. Americans generally don't like to walk very far, but we feel that it will help us in a couple different ways. One, we feel that by not stopping as often there will be a cumulative effect on our fuel economy and our brake wear. As well, we think it will help us improve and maintain our on-time performance."

The MTD is looking at the possibility of restricting stops beginning in August 2013.

"It will all depend on how fast we can consolidate," Volk said. "We have to balance where the people are boarding now, as well as safety considerations. We need to look at that and then actually go out and physically put bus stops signs in. Both of those jobs are going to take some time."

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rsp wrote on June 06, 2012 at 8:06 am

"I'm sure we're going to get some pushback on that. Americans generally don't like to walk very far, but we feel that it will help us in a couple different ways..."

People ask the drivers where they should get the bus, etc. The stops on campus are two blocks apart. They could phase it in on busy streets and just get more people used to the idea and with careful placement it shouldn't be a problem. If they try to go system-wide all at once there will be a bigger issue. 

roger pump wrote on June 06, 2012 at 9:06 am

Maybe they can cut down on stops at Staley & Windsor to save money everyday around 3:30 and 4:30pm there are 3 MTDs that stop at Copper Ridge 20 min apart with only 1 person getting off of just 1 bus.

SheikofHyrule wrote on June 06, 2012 at 4:06 pm

It would be nice if the Yellow route actually ran buses the entire length of the route.  It seems ridiculous to me that you have to ride on one bus to the Illinois Terminal and then wait around to transfer to another bus on the same color line to get to the other end of the route.

thelowedown wrote on June 08, 2012 at 1:06 am

You're confusing the YellowHopper with the Yellow. "While regular buses serve the entire route, ‘Hopper’ buses only serve the portion of the route that experience the heaviest rider volume. If you need to travel beyond the ‘hopper’ portion of these routes, do not board a bus that includes the word ‘hopper’ on its destination sign."

http://www.cumtd.com/riding

urbana1234 wrote on June 06, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I take the Green westbound and it stops far too much, especially on campus, there is little need for stops so close together. I think there are about 4-5 stops between Lincoln and Wright St.