MTD rider study

A Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District bus is shown leaving the Illinois Terminal in March 2018 in Champaign.

Listen to this article

URBANA — If you want a say in the future of local bus service in Champaign-Urbana, here’s your opportunity.

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District is in the midst of a large-scale study called MTD Next that’s looking at the potential market for public transit service in the community, where current and future customers want to travel, how the MTD is performing and how service can be improved.

The best chance to weigh in is by completing a survey online at mtdnextsurvey.com, according to Managing Director Karl Gnadt and Planning Manager Jay Rank.

The more people who complete the survey, the more information the MTD’s consultant will have to go on as it recommends future route structures and other aspects of MTD service, they said.

“Right now, we’re just at that phase that the more information, the better the analysis will be,” Gnadt said.

The online survey is brief, and asks such questions as how often and at what times bus service should be operated and to what extent — if any — the existing route structure should be changed.

This is the first comprehensive study of its kind that the MTD has undertaken in its approximately half-century history, according to Gnadt.

“The last time we made a large-scale change to our route structure was in 2009, and that was a very successful restructuring,” Gnadt said.

But development over the last decade has changed where many people are living and the places they need buses to take them, he said.

“What we’ve seen, mostly, is the change in the development pattern for housing and residential development,” Gnadt said.

Rank said the study is set to be completed in August 2020.

In addition to the online survey, the MTD has also done an on-board survey of riders. It will also be looking at data from cellphone apps that show how people are moving about in the community, Rank said.

That information is being supplied by a private company and derived from cellphone carrier data, and the MTD won’t have any access to information on individual cellphone users and their movements, Gnadt said.

The study is being funded through an Illinois Department of Transportation grant.