New bus routes offer increased frequency, logical routes
The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District is proposing new bus routes for the campus area beginning Aug. 16 that would provide direct access to downtown Urbana and downtown Champaign along with more frequent service and other improvements.
A new route system called the Campus Core – comprising the yellow, the gold, the gold peak service and the black routes – would replace several current campus routes including the Quad, the 26 Pack, the Shuttle East and the Shuttle West. Buses would provide service every 10 minutes daily when UI classes are in session rather than every 15 minutes as MTD currently provides. Frequency would be reduced when the university is not in session, although routes would remain the same.
Unlike the MTD’s current routes, which operate in a circular fashion and run either clockwise or counter-clockwise, buses on the new routes would travel in a linear fashion between nodes: downtown Champaign, downtown Urbana, Lot E-14, and Florida Avenue Residence Halls/Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Halls.
“All of the service will go directly into the downtown areas, and you’ll get to both of the downtown areas directly from Wright Street or Goodwin Avenue and still be able to get back in to campus,” said Bill Volk, MTD’s managing director. “Importantly for us, people could get to Illinois Terminal with a one-seat ride from any of the dorms on campus.”
The new route system might be especially useful for passengers who want to travel from campus to downtown Champaign or downtown Urbana. “Right now, as an employee, I would not have an easy way to go from my office to the downtown for lunch, or if I had an errand downtown, I wouldn’t have that opportunity,” said Morgan Johnston, transportation demand management coordinator in the Facilities and Services Division. “This new bus system will give us that option.”
The newer, simplified routes also will be easier for passengers to understand than some of the current routes, Johnston said. “Even if you ride them regularly, you may not be able to remember where they go. The new ones are pretty straightforward, and that’s the intuitive quality of having a point-to-point system like this.”
The current 23 East and West Shuttle routes are confusing for some employees because the East Shuttle bus only runs during peak periods while the West Shuttle route runs all day, Johnston said. “A lot of people on the East line don’t know when the bus is available. You have to look it up. It’s not intuitive. The new route will be available for them all the time.”
Traffic safety on Wright Street will be improved when the routes change because 15 to 20 buses per hour will be eliminated from Wright Street, Volk said. Currently, there are 70 to 75 buses per hour traveling on Wright Street.
The route changes are intended to provide more consistent service throughout the day, as well as extended evening and late-night service hours.
However, bus riders may find themselves walking a few blocks farther from the bus stops to their final destinations when the routes change.
“It’s difficult to serve everybody with a ride to exactly where they want to go,” Volk said. “Generally, in the transit world a walk of 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile is considered reasonable to catch a bus, and the distance between Wright Street and Goodwin Avenue is 1/4 mile. If you take a bus and it takes you to Goodwin Avenue, you still have the ability to walk across the Quad and get where you’re going.”
The MTD unveiled its proposed new routes at public hearings on April 30 at the College of Law and at the Illini Union.
Several studies in recent years recommended consolidating campus bus routes to improve traffic safety and bus service on campus, including the multi-jurisdictional Champaign Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study report. The consulting firm Martin/Alexiou/Bryson submitted two reports: the 2007 Multi-Modal Transportation Study, which explored the feasibility of park-and-ride lots and other means for reducing traffic on campus, and the 2008 Transit Analysis, which contained a detailed review of transit routes through campus.
On March 5, students passed a referendum to increase their transportation fee from $38 to $50. The UI Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the increase, probably at its July meeting if not before.
The proposed bus routes for fall 2009 are on MTD’s Web site.
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