Airbus could end, but may resume later this year

Airbus could end, but may resume later this year

CHAMPAIGN — MTD Airbus service to Willard Airport will end after Aug. 31.

But it may resume later, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District Managing Director Karl Gnadt said Wednesday.

(An earlier version of this story said that the service would end July 31. The MTD has corrected the details of the existing contract).

The University of Illinois, which owns and operates Willard, has agreed to partner with the MTD to pay a third of the cost of another year of Airbus service to the airport. The MTD will pay another third and Gnadt said he hopes Parkland College agrees to pick up the final 33 percent. Each agency would provide about $29,000 a year for the service.

"I'm hopeful that Parkland will say yes. I have had a couple of conversations with (President) Tom Ramage, and that's why I think we'll be able to work something out."

Parkland is a likely partner in the agreement because the community college has taken over the pilot-training program at Willard. For decades, it was operated by the UI.

A proposed schedule, contingent on Parkland participating in the agreement, calls for 19 trips daily between the MTD's Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign and Willard and the Institute of Aviation. The first trip to the airport would leave the Illinois Terminal at 6:30 a.m., and the last trip from the airport to the terminal would be at 8:40 p.m.

Also Wednesday:

— The MTD board approved a contract to begin providing rural transportation service in Champaign County, starting Oct. 1. The service has been provided for the last three years by CRIS Rural Mass Transit of Danville. CRIS will continue to operate the program until Oct. 1.

There will likely be no expansion of the Champaign County service when the MTD takes over the program, Gnadt said. It will operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and will be a demand-response service, meaning that customers must call in advance to get a ride. The program will continue to be paid for entirely with state and federal grant funds, with no money coming either from the MTD or Champaign County.

— The MTD board approved a $204,896 contract with Open Road Paving to repave a parking lot east of the Illinois Terminal. State funds will pay for the project.

— Board members learned that the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District board is asking that MTD Red Line buses traveling on Neil Street stop at the health district offices about a block west of Neil on Kenyon Road.

"We believe the minimal time it would take to route the southbound Red route through CUPHD would be negligible compared to the benefit provided to our clients and yours," said a letter signed by the health district's three board members, Alan Kurtz, Andy Quarnstrom and Michelle Mayol.

Gnadt said the diversion could cost buses about five minutes of extra time and affect transfer times to other bus routes.

Currently, buses go off the route, when requested, to take riders to the health district offices, Gnadt said.

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ROB McCOLLEY wrote on July 30, 2014 at 9:07 pm
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Not a bad idea, especially considering that 67% of local air-traffic prefers other airports.

And if MTD returns to Willard, it might be a good idea to coordinate bus schedules with flight schedules.  Just an idea. Call me crazy. 

just_wondering wrote on July 30, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Socialism at its finest. The people that pay for parking are subsidizing the bus service.