MTD likely to take over rural transit
URBANA -- The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District probably will take over Champaign County's rural transit system on Oct. 1, the county's rural transit advisory group was told Wednesday.
The service has been provided by Danville-based CRIS Rural Mass Transit, but CRIS is withdrawing from its Champaign County contract and county officials have asked the MTD to take over.
A final agreement, which is being negotiated, will have to be approved this summer by the county board and the MTD board.
The county's rural transit program currently provides scheduled demand service which requires a reservation, as much as 48 hours in advance. It operates from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday, according to Rita Morocoima-Black, a county planner.
But she said she hopes that once the MTD takes over the program it can be expanded.
"We are expecting nine new vehicles this year. We only have five of our own now," said Black. "And that will change the whole operation.
"Hopefully with those nine vehicles and more funding we will be able to provide more service. We are looking at expanding the hours of operation and the days of operation if possible."
She said the transit service has received request from employers, particularly in Rantoul, to provide early-hours service to manufacturing plants.
"They want their employees to be able to take transit to be on time," Black said.
The rural transit drivers and supervisors will become C-U MTD employees, said Black.
"The relationship of the county with C-U MTD will be the same kind of relationship that we have with CRIS. They are going to be hired as a provider of rural transportation services in Champaign County," she said.
None of the funding for the rural service will come from the MTD or MTD taxpayers, said MTD director Bill Volk. The rural transit service is state and federally funded.
It provides rides in 14-passenger vans to residents of Rantoul, St. Joseph, Thomasboro, Homer, Mahomet and other rural communities to other small towns, but mostly to Champaign-Urbana. Fares cover part of the cost of the service.