Sustainable Transportation | WGLT

Sustainable Transportation

Twin Cities Bus Riders Unhappy With Proposal

May 2, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Opponents and a few supporters filled the Normal council chambers to express their opinions of a proposal that would change Connect Transit routes and schedules. Those who attended the hearing had mostly negative things to say about the plan.

Illinois State University

The Millennial generation is having an effect on the planning for the Town of Normal's next comprehensive plan which would guide the town  for the next 20 years.  Millennials are currently the largest generation in the United States. In the Town of Normal, Millennials age 18-34 make up more than 50% of the population.

Connect Transit Nearing Deal With Uber

Apr 26, 2016
Staff / WGLT

Connect Transit is planning to partner with Uber in a pilot program to help Twin Cities residents get to the nearest bus stop

A contract is still pending between the ride share company and transit agency amid a proposed overhaul of routes and schedules in the area. At the Bloomington City Council meeting Monday evening, Connect Transit General Manager Andrew Johnson said the bus system could subsidize Uber rides to resolve the “first mile, last mile” problem for some customers cut off by the route changes.

pixabay

The world is reinventing itself from the bottom up according Bruce Katz. The Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institution and author argues cities are the center of problem solving and innovation, where place rules over party, collaboration over conflict and evidence over dogma.

Staff

The Main Street corridor from Olive Street in Bloomington to College Avenue in Normal is the subject of only two TIGER Grant applications being submitted by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). It's the only project involving road construction. 

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner calls the multi-modal aspects of the application "exciting." Town of Normal Manger  Mark Peterson said the economic benefits are a "game changer."

Staff

The Bloomington City Council has adopted a $207 million dollar proposed balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2017. Aldermen Kevin Lower and Jim Fruin voted no. Lower said his opposition came because of a lack of reductions in “socialized entertainment venues.” Lower said he believed the venues should be paid for by the people actually using those services, not the city.

Connect Transit Updates Payment Options

Apr 7, 2016
Staff

Beginning in June, Connect Transit riders will use new electronic fare boxes when boarding a bus.

Customers will be able to pay for rides with a magnetic strip card. Riders can also continue to use Connect Transit issued passes or cash. Bus tokens will be phased out beginning in May and no longer accepted after June 3rd.

Monthly 'Fast Passes' already purchased will work until June and any remaining credit can be transferred to a new mag-strip card after June.

Connect Transit Tweaks Route Plan

Apr 6, 2016
Jim Browne / WGLT

Connect Transit is continuing to make adjustments to its proposed bus route plan. The new change in the plan will keep a stop in front of Phoenix Towers.

The green bus will no longer stop near Chestnut and Center streets, so the vehicle no longer has to get across two lanes of traffic in a single block.

The blue route will be extended down Chestnut to Locust, and will also stop at Phoenix Towers. That was a stop that was formerly made by the purple bus.

Connect Transit indicates more shifts in the proposed route overhaul are probably coming.

Normal Council To Hear Connect Transit Changes

Apr 4, 2016
Passengers board a bus in Uptown Normal's transfer center.
Connect Transit

Connect Transit will present proposed bus system changes in the Twin Cities to the Normal Town Council tonight. Council members will not be asked to approve the changes brought forward by the analysis at the meeting. The Transit Board will look more closely at the proposal at their meeting next month, with the final changes slated to begin in August. 

Passengers board a bus in Uptown Normal's transfer center.
Connect Transit

Bloomington-Normal's mass transit system is poised to make major overhauls to the bus routes later this summer. Connect Transit has a public presentation set for March 29 on proposed changes that grew out of a Comprehensive Operational Analysis of the system.

Attorney Explains Bicycle Laws, Insurance

Mar 15, 2016
Arturo Satilla / Flickr via Creative Commons

A bicycle lawyer is addressing the Bike BloNo meeting March 16th. Brendan Kevenides is partner in a Chicago firm that specializes in the legal needs of cyclists.

Town of Normal

The Town of Normal is hiring two consultants to help secure federal TIGER funding for a probable underpass beneath the tracks near Uptown Station. During GLT's Sound Ideas, Mayor Chris Koos told Mike McCurdy the Town's eventual application is not in competition with a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant application from the City of Bloomington to fund the Hamilton Road extension project.

Galesburg Invests in Hybrid Buses

Feb 18, 2016
John Eisenschenk / Facebook via Creative Commons

Galesburg has agreed to purchase two hybrid mass-transit buses, but they won't hit the streets for a few years. The city council has approved using $1.2 million in state Transportation Department funding to buy the diesel-electric machines. City Manager Todd Thompson says the city's purchase is part of a joint order of nearly 200 vehicles so it could be up to two years before they're delivered to the city. The city entered a joint procurement in February 2015 with Interurban Transit Partnership of Grand Rapids, Michigan, for 186 buses to be built from 2015 to 2020.

Brad Basham Photography/www.bbasham.com

The Town of Normal is taking steps to build a temporary, level railroad crossing to allow Amtrak passengers to use a second platform, which will available when the state begins using high speed trains within the next year. The Town Council originally looked at building an overpass, or bridge, to allow passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists to cross the tracks as part of Constitution Trail, but that was put on hold when an underpass was proposed

Some Connect Transit Routes Change Today

Feb 1, 2016
Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

Beginning today (Mon, Feb. 1) updated routes for some Connect Transit buses will take effect.

The Bloomington-Normal bus service says the Red B and Yellow G Routes will stay on Euclid Avenue, no longer turning on Illinois/Olive in order to stop on Erickson.  This change is being made to accommodate 40 foot buses, and also to avoid an area that is frequently detoured due to winter road conditions.

Connect Transit

Bloomington-Normal’s bus system is making it  easier for customers and drivers to handle fares. Connect Transit is installing 53 automatic fare boxes, one on every fixed route and Connect Mobility bus.  Public Outreach Coordinator Gabe Goldsmith says the electronic fare collection system includes mobile ticketing via smart phones and cards with magnetic strips, similar to those issued by parking decks.  

National Mayors' Association Focuses On Transportation

Jan 21, 2016
Ralph Weisheit

The nation's Mayors are getting a look at the new transportation bill and what's in it for them. WGLT's Hanna Gutmann reports from the national meeting in Washington that Normal Mayor Chris Koos says the biggest problem is the new bill still has an old funding mechanism and priorities.

Normal Looking At 'Status Quo' Budget

Jan 14, 2016
Brad Basham Photography / bbasham.com and Town of Normal

Next year's budget for the Town of Normal won't look much different from this year. The Town Council is working on the spending plan. City Manager Mark Peterson says the proposal is "a little higher, but, really, no major difference in basic operations."

Chris Sweet

While sales are flat, more people are using bikes as transportation and bike shares are popping up around the country. But whatever boom or boomlet is currently underway, it pales in comparison to the bike boom of the late 19th century. And central Illinois contributed more than its fair share to the boom. In the 1890’s, two-thirds of all bikes and bike accessories were produced with in a 150 mile radius of Chicago, which includes Bloomington and Peoria manufacturers.

Illinois Amtrak Ridership Drops

Dec 14, 2015

Amtrak says that its passenger numbers in Illinois fell to about 1.3 million in the latest fiscal year, or a decline of about 4 percent.  The passenger rail service attributes the drop to low gasoline prices and high-speed rail construction between Chicago and St. Louis. The construction forced periodic use of chartered buses on the route.  

Leonard G. / Wikimedia Commons

Negotiators at  the U.N. climate change conference in Paris have reached a rough blueprint for reining in emissions and reducing global warming. Many issues remain and those will need to be resolved by the summit’s end on Friday. WGLT's Mike McCurdy talked with two Illinois volunteers with the Citizens' Climate Lobby about their plan to address global climate change.

Staff / WGLT

While some people ride recreationally, an increasing number are using their bicycles to get to work, the store, and doctor.  The National Household Travel Survey showed that the number of trips made by bicycle in the U.S. more than doubled from 1.7 billion in 2001 to 4 billion in 2009. Bike BloNo, a Bloomington-Normal bicycle advocacy organization, recently helped compiled statistics to see where, and when, it's safest to ride your bike.

Connect Mobility To Needs Test Riders Next Year

Nov 11, 2015
Connect Transit bus
Connect Transit

The LIFE Center for Independent Living is working with Connect Transit to determine who is eligible to use Connect Mobility buses. The service provides door-to-door rides for people with disabilities, and currently allows all applicants that can provide a doctor's note for a documented disability or anyone age 65 and over.

Mike Bernico / Bike BloNo

A new study says the largest single chunk of bicycle versus auto accidents in Bloomington Normal happen to bicyclists who are using sidewalks. Michael Gorman of the advocacy group Bike BloNo says it's safest for cyclists to behave like motorists and follow the rules of the road on the streets because cyclists are more visible to people around you.

Gorman says bikers are most visible when they are behaving like motorists and following the rules of the road, but car drivers may not notice bikers when the head into an intersection from a sidewalk.

Flagging A Bus Soon Thing Of The Past

Nov 6, 2015
Staff / WGLT

Beginning Monday, Connect Transit buses in Bloomington-Normal will only stop at designated spots.  Connect Transit General Manager Andrew Johnson says the signs marking bus stops have been up for a few weeks now, and he hopes the public is ready for the transition. He says the new system will increase efficiency, and cut down on travel times.

Connect Transit Loses Out On Grant

Nov 2, 2015
Jim Browne / WGLT

Connect Transit is looking at other options after being turned down for a federal TIGER Grant for a Downtown Bloomington transfer station. The grant would have replaced small shelters now on Front Street. Connect Transit General Manager Andrew Johnson says he's not discouraged.

Amtrak Chi-Indy Run Grows

Oct 27, 2015
Russel Sekeet / Wikipedia

The Chicago company that now runs the Amtrak line between Indianapolis and Chicago has big plans for the route.

Transportation Leader Weighs In On Highway Funding

Oct 13, 2015
Staff / Connect Transit

Speaking in Normal, the President and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association says he's confident Congress will agree on money for the Highway Trust Fund. Michael Melaniphy says it's an issue that Democrats and Republicans can support.

Authorization to spend money from the Highway Trust Fund will run out on October 29 if no action is taken. The deadline is a result of a three month extension passed last July.

On the topic of infrastructure, Melaniphy said about 15 other countries rate higher than the US.  

New Rules On Old Tires

Oct 12, 2015

The Illinois Pollution Control Board has issued new rules about how to handle used tires. State officials say the rules will apply to operators of tire disposal and storage sites and facilities that retread, stamp and die-cut tires. The rules are meant to protect from tire fires and breeding of disease-carrying mosquitoes from standing water in tires. The rules will require operators to change the way they store used tires both indoors and outdoors. The rules also will give emergency responders easier access to tire piles in case there's a fire or other emergency.

Staff / WGLT

The town of Normal could generate more than $6 million in additional revenue once the 1% sales tax increase goes into effect next year. A quarter of that is earmarked to community-wide mental health improvements. The remainder is up for grabs.

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