- On May 4, residents of the City of Peoria, Village of Peoria Heights and West Peoria Township voted to form the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (GPMTD). The federal government gave Peoria a grant to purchase new buses (33 to start). GPMTD provided 667,142 passenger rides during the first year.
- In December, the GPMTD Board of Trustees approved a partnership with the City of East Peoria to provide service in East Peoria.
1987 – GPMTD began the Stuff-A-Bus food drive to benefit the community by filling a GP Transit bus with food donations that were donated to a local non-profit organization that provided a food pantry to those in need.
1990 – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by Congress. GPMTD began to provide ADA paratransit transportation for passengers with disabilities.
1991 – As part of the national ethanol project, the Greater Peoria community was the first transit system in the country to run ethanol-fueled buses in its fleet. GPMTD’s ethanol project was the largest mass transit test fleet in the nation.
2000 – The moniker GP Transit was changed to CityLink to more efficiently advertise GPMTD. The colors of the buses were changed from orange and white to maroon and gray with gold striping.
- GPMTD entered into a contract with the City of Pekin to offer service in Pekin, North Pekin and Creve Coeur.
- GPMTD entered into a contract with a third-party contractor to offer paratransit service, which had previously been provided by a private company. The board also approved naming the new service CityLift.
2002 – On December 2, night service was added to the schedule, providing service to passengers from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. on designated routes. This enabled night workers and travelers to have extended transportation opportunities.
- A modern, off-street Transit Center, located in the 400 block of SW Adams, was completed.
- CityLink partnered with a local daycare to open a daycare center within the Transit Center. The arrangement was the first in the nation to provide this combination of onsite childcare and transportation.
- Twelve new buses were added to the fleet replacing older buses. Seven were 40-foot, low-floor buses and five were 35-foot, low-floor buses. These buses made it easier for passengers to enter and leave at curb level.
- CityLink buses helped to relieve traffic congestion during the six-month closing of the I-74 Bridge over the Illinois River.
- Security cameras were added to the interiors of the buses to aid with the safety of passengers and CityLink employees.
2008 – CityLink began celebrating Passenger Appreciation Day on April 20, 2008. This day is in honor of former CityLink General Manager Jerome Lilly, who passed away unexpectedly in 2007. April 20 was chosen as the date for Passenger Appreciation Day because it was Lilly’s birthday.
2010 – GPMTD began CityLift paratransit service in Pekin.
2011 – Twenty-six 35-foot, low-floor transit coaches were delivered.
2012 – GPMTD began to offer half-fares for eligible US military veterans.
- On June 8, for the first time in its 40-plus year history, the GPMTD offered Sunday service, with 2,696 riders taking advantage of the new service.
- As a result of conversations with Bike Peoria, a group of citizens and cycling enthusiasts advocating for a more bike-friendly city and region, CityLink added “Bikes and CityLink” information to the website and the Rider’s Guide.
- The installation of new solar powered bus shelters was initiated. The shelters have solar power LED lighting which provides added safety and security for passengers and allows better visibility for CityLink operators.
- CityLink entered into an intergovernmental agreement with Peoria County to oversee rural transportation service provider, CountyLink.
- CityLink experienced record ridership of 3,420,705 for the 2015 Fiscal Year period of July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. The previous record fiscal year ridership of 3,408,232 was set in 2013.
- A self-service ticket vending machine was installed in the Transit Center lobby.
- CityLink received two 40-foot diesel-electric hybrid buses. Diesel-electric hybrid buses reduce emissions by up to 90% when compared to conventional diesel-fueled buses and reduce vehicle noise throughout their entire operating range.
- CityLink route and schedule information became available in Google Maps in late 2016.
- CityLink received two additional 40-foot diesel-electric hybrid buses. The new buses are identical to the hybrid buses CityLink received in 2016.
- GPMTD received thirty-two new paratransit vehicles. Thirty-one of these vehicles are being used by the District’s demand response paratransit service (CityLift), and one of the vehicles is being used by the CityLink Operations Department as a supervisor vehicle.
- CityLink donated a 35-foot diesel bus to the Diesel Powered Equipment Technology (DPET) program at Illinois Central College for educational purposes.
- New bus camera surveillance equipment was installed to update the camera surveillance system to high definition cameras for increased passenger and operator safety.
- CityLink buses began picking-up and dropping-off passengers only at signed bus stop locations, designated CityLink benches and shelters. This change was an effort to improve passenger safety and the overall customer satisfaction of bus service.
- CityLink participated in a study of downstate transportation operations completed by the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. Upon completion of the study, CityLink received praise for Municipal Excellence in transit planning.
- GPMTD contracted with a consulting company to complete a Comprehensive Operational Analysis transit study, called CityLink on the Move. The outcome of this study offered a five-year service improvement plan that GPMTD is using toevaluate future route and service changes.
- GPMTD celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a video series featuring information on the transportation services it provides and important milestones in its history.
- Interior remodel project was completed at the Transit Center.
- Received two CountyLink replacement vehicles that were purchased through the State of Illinois Consolidated Vehicle Procurement (CVP) Program.
- The CityLink Transit Center roof was selected by the Illinois Solar for All (ILSFA) Program for the 2020-2021 program year in the Non-Profit/Public Facilities sub-program.
- Installed driver barriers on all fixed route buses to provide added safety for bus operators.
- Welcomed three new board members:
- Chris Ahart, Representing the Village of Peoria Heights
- Jeff Hoerr, Representing the City of Peoria
- Patti Sterling Polk, Representing the City of Peoria
- Received three new 35-foot battery-electric buses and the charging infrastructure.
- Implementation and launch of ITS Solutions
- Including: Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) Software; Automatic Voice Annunciation (AVA) Software; and Automatic Passenger Counters (APC) Software
- CityLink route and real-time bus tracking information is now available in the myStop® Mobile for Apple or Android devices.
- Collision Avoidance System installed on buses, which has similar features to the collision avoidance systems found in many contemporary motor vehicles.
- GPMTD welcomed Don Knox as a GPMTD Board Trustee, representing the City of Peoria.
- Implemented route/schedule improvements to the fixed route service in March as a result of the CityLink on the Move transit study.
- Groundbreaking for new Maintenance & Operations Facilities rebuild/renovation project in May 2022.
- Partnered with the Peoria Public Library, Fondulac District Library and Pekin Public Library for the first time to offer free rides on CityLink fixed route buses for library card holders in the month of September. This partnership continued in September 2023.
- Offered free rides on Election Day in November for the first time.
- The 35th Annual Stuff-A-Bus food drive to benefit the food pantry at the Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service collected a record 12.47 tons of donations.
- Started a pilot paratransit (CityLift) service for individuals aged 18 to 59 in the City of Washington for their underserved urban area. The project was extended for another year on February 1, 2023.
- The GPMTD Board of Trustees voted to end its contract with a third-party management company and to hire the General Manager and Assistant General Manager positions as GPMTD employees for the first time in District history.
- New camera system for the paratransit (CityLift and CountyLink) vehicles were installed.
- Route adjustments were made to the routes with service through East Peoria during the Bob Michel Bridge closure. A shuttle service was offered to the Illinois Central College campus.
- CityLink partnered during select months in 2023 to offer free entry opportunities to the Peoria Riverfront Museum (April/December), Peoria Zoo (August), and Caterpillar Visitors Center (October) for CityLink, CityLift and CountyLink passengers who presented a bus pass or ticket for at these institutions during the designated month.
- CityLink participated with two electric buses in the triennial disaster exercise in April at the Peoria International Airport.
- A new bus wrap on CityLink bus 2245 celebrating Black culture and diversity in Peoria was unveiled on Juneteenth (June 19, 2023) at the Minority Business Development Center. The bus wrap artwork was designed by local artist Brenda Pagan, in partnership with the Peoria Guild of Black Artists (PGOBA), and with the assistance of ArtsPartners of Central Illinois.
- Started a bus refurbishment project on a select number of the current Gillig diesel buses.
- The first bus started the refurbishment process in August 2023, and it is expected to be completed in the spring of 2024.
- The construction project for the new Maintenance & Operations Facilities is ongoing and it is expected that the first floor (maintenance garage/offices) and second floor (operations/ dispatch/offices) will be completed by late 2023 or early 2024.
The Future –
- Replacement of 10 of its aging diesel buses with new diesel buses in the next few years. The buses are expected to go into production in March 2024, and they should be delivered in late 2024 or early 2025.
- Plans to begin replacing aging diesel buses with up to 20 new battery-electric buses.
- Plans to install a new farebox solution on the fixed route (CityLink) buses to provide passengers with the ability to utilize an account-based, multimodal fare collection system.
- Transit Center site improvements, including new curbing, etching, furniture upgrades, and outdoor kiosks.
- Driver simulators to improve operator training.
- Continual updating of routes and service is a top priority to make CityLink synonymous with meeting regional bus transportation needs.