APTA | Passenger Transport
August 3, 2009

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» PRESIDENT'S PERSPECTIVE
» SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES
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SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES

Champaign-Urbana Creates Sustainable Partnerships
BY GRACE KENNEY, Intern, and CYNTHIA HOYLE, Transportation Planning Consultant, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Urbana, IL

Environmental issues and sustainability have become daily headlines all over the world. In 2008, another word also appeared regularly in speeches and news features, particularly during the presidential campaign: collaboration. These two trends in public and national values have shown up in all sectors of society and, in the case of public transportation, are especially important to its future success and sustainability.

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) in Urbana, IL, lately has been taking large steps forward in both of these categories. Not only focusing on making existing processes more environmentally friendly, the agency has also moved toward the next step of collaboration: creating partnerships with local sustainability advocates and groups.

Environmental Friendliness
Many public transit agencies are making the move toward integrating hybrid buses into their fleets. The MTD has acquired nine hybrid buses and is now training operators on how to operate them. In addition, all buses in the fleet use ultra-low-sulfur fuel and soybean biodiesel.

Not only has MTD incorporated environmentally friendly vehicles and fuels into its sustainability plan, it has also implemented numerous changes internally. The new “Going Green” page on the agency’s web site lists these changes, such as the use of “green” cleaning products, placement of more recycling bins, the change from incandescent bulbs to LED lights, and reduced water use for bus washing. The monthly newsletter now includes a regular column devoted to sustainable behavior.

Working Together
The MTD, along with the cities of Champaign and Urbana and the University of Illinois, recently offered support for the introduction of Zipcar, a car sharing program that encourages mode shift by providing for short trips in the community. People who use Zipcar may find they no longer need to drive their own vehicles or, in some cases, even keep them.

A similar project focusing on bike sharing is also being pursued.

The agency believes that encouraging multimodal transport is key to the sustainability of the community, so it is working hard to address the land use-transportation connection that supports residents who want to use transit, walk, and bike for everyday trips.

Cynthia Hoyle, a transportation planner with MTD, coordinates efforts with multiple local organizations and groups to better meet the needs of the community. Her efforts recently led to the agency hosting a bicycle traffic skills workshop led by certified instructors from the League of American Bicyclists where bus operators, local law enforcement, and bicyclists could learn both how to share the road better and develop better traffic skills.

Other MTD efforts in the community include sponsoring the community Safe Routes to School program and meeting with local bike advocacy groups to ensure that all community members have access to safe, accessible, and sustainable transportation.

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