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History

1970

  • 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.
  • GPMTD contracted with First Transit to manage the daily operations of the District, and First Transit has been the sole management provider for GPMTD since then.

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.

2001

  • 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 MV Transportation 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.

2003

  • A modern, off-street Transit Center located in the 400 block of SW Adams was completed.
  • The YWCA partnered with CityLink by opening a day care center within the Transit Center. The arrangement was the first in the nation to provide this combination of onsite childcare and transportation. This allows parents to leave their children with childcare providers, take the bus to their jobs, and return after work to collect their children. The current occupant of the daycare center is Myah’s Just 4 Kids Learning Center.

2005

  • 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.

2009

  • A record-breaking 3,026,541 passenger rides were provided during the 2009 Fiscal Year.

2010

  • CityLink began the process to order 46 new 35-foot, low-floor transit coaches.
  • GPMTD began CityLift paratransit service in Pekin.

2011 – Twenty-six 35-foot, low-floor transit coaches were delivered.

2012

  • Five 35-foot, low-floor transit coaches were delivered.
  • GPMTD began to offer half-fares for eligible US military veterans.

2013

  • The 15 remaining 35-foot, low-floor transit coaches were delivered in January.

2014

  • GPMTD purchased six supervisor vans and two light duty vans. Both types of vehicles are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • 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. Since the inception of this service, the average ridership on Sundays has consistently remained at just under 3,000 rides each week.
  • 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. This provides cyclists with information on how to use transit as part of their cycling experience.

2015

  • The installation of new solar powered bus shelters was initiated. The project calls for the installation of up to 50 new bus shelters, with 15 being installed in 2015. The shelters have solar power LED lighting which provides added safety and security for passengers and allows better visibility for CityLink operators.
  • CityLink renewed its contract with MV Transportation to offer paratransit service. In addition, due to a change in the urbanized area, CityLink entered into an intergovernmental agreement with Peoria County to oversee rural transportation service provider, CountyLink. The addition of AVL technology and new routing software has provided better data and revenue tracking, and improved customer service.
  • 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.
  • CityLink introduced two new bus fare options for passengers. The $3 Day Pass provides unlimited rides for one service day. The $40 30-Day Pass offers unlimited rides for 30 consecutive service days and can be activated for the first time at any time during a month. Both of the passes were implemented to provide affordable and convenient pass options for frequent CityLink bus riders.
  • A Genfare self-service ticket vending machine was installed in the Transit Center lobby. It provides convenience and flexibility for passengers who wish to buy bus tickets in advance. The vending machine accepts cash (bills and coins). It issues the $3 Day Pass and the $40 30-Day Pass.
  • CityLink expanded its online presence by joining the social media sites Facebook (facebook.com/citylinkpeoria) and Twitter (twitter.com/citylinkpeoria).

2016

  • CityLink eliminated several bus pass options and made changes to its bus fare system. The biggest of these changes was the elimination of the transfer. Passengers now pay a fare for each ride. Seniors aged 65 and older also pay $0.50 per ride.
  • Continued the installation program of new solar powered bus shelters. Thirty-eight new shelters were installed in 2016, including a new shelter outside the CityLink Administrative office, located at 2105 NE Jefferson Avenue.
  • GPMTD received a Paratransit Vehicles Grant from the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) through the Buses and Bus Facilities Grants Program – 5339. The amount awarded from the FTA is $1,421,467, which paid 85% of the total cost for GPMTD to replace its fleet of aging paratransit (CityLift) vehicles.
  • CityLink received two 40-foot, New Flyer Xcelsior® 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. They use a smaller Cummins engine that is certified for mass transportation use and an Allison hybrid propulsion system.
  • GPMTD began offering advertising opportunities on its paratransit (CityLift and CountyLink) vehicles through a new partnership with Heller Outdoor Group, Inc.
  • CityLink route and schedule information became available in Google Maps in late 2016. Users provide the trip origin and destination in Google Maps and click or tap on the transit icon. They are then provided the routes available from their point of origin to their destination, the estimated length of the trip, walking directions, fare information and schedule information.

2017

  • GPMTD welcomed Doug Roelfs as General Manager and Jennifer Lee to the Board of Trustees.
  • CityLink received two additional 40’ New Flyer Xcelsior® diesel-electric hybrid buses. The new buses are identical to the hybrid buses CityLink received in late 2016. The new hybrid buses arrived with bicycle racks affixed to the front of each bus, and the racks have the capacity to hold up to three bicycles at one time as opposed to the standard two-slot bicycle racks.
  • 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. They are Ford E450 Body-on-Chassis with a Champion Challenger body and have the capacity to accommodate up to 14 passengers and numerous wheelchairs. The vehicles have a specially designed roof to increase passenger safety and the latest enhancements in seatbelt and wheelchair securements.
  • The Peoria Public Library and CityLink collaborated to offer a Little Free Library at the Transit Center. This Little Free Library box was purchased by and is sponsored by the Friends of the Peoria Public Library.
  • Continued the installation program of new solar powered bus shelters. Twenty new shelters were installed in 2017.
  • CityLink celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Stuff-A-Bus food drive to benefit the Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service in 2017. More than 10 tons of donations were collected on the classic 1975 CityLink bus during the 30th Anniversary Celebration.

2018 –

  • CityLink donated a 35-foot Gillig diesel bus to the Diesel Powered Equipment Technology (DPET) program at Illinois Central College for educational purposes.
  • CityLink continued its partnership with the Peoria Chiefs to offer a discount for Chiefs tickets on Monday through Thursday game days all season long. Fans that presented a bus pass at the box office at Dozer Park were able to receive up to 4 tickets at $5 each all season long.
  • New bus camera surveillance equipment was installed to update the camera surveillance system to high definition cameras for increased passenger and operator safety.
  • Art Bell was named Chair of the GPMTD Board of Trustees for a one year term in May 2018.
  • CityLink offered free rides to passengers traveling with a bicycle on fixed route buses for the first time to celebrate National Bike to Work Week on May 14, 2018 – May 18, 2018. This celebration was in conjunction with CityLink’s continued support of the local non-profit bicycle advocacy organization, Bike Peoria.
  • GPMTD received $3.6 Million Grant from the FTA for the construction of a new operations and maintenance facility.
    • One of 139 projects selected nationwide that will be funded by the FTA’s Buses and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program.
  • A new bus shelter was installed on Sterling Avenue near the new Portillo’s restaurant.
  • Received three sets of new mobile bus lifts that allows maintenance staff to raise buses inside or outside of the garage to facilitate repairs underneath the vehicles.
  • Launched a newly redesigned website with a modern, user-friendly and innovative design that includes the use of Google Maps interactive features for a more user-focused experience on the schedules and routes page. It also features a trip planner on the homepage that utilizes Google Maps.

2019 –

  • GPMTD welcomed Angel Marinich as Assistant General Manager of Operations and Nick Standefer as Assistant General Manager of Maintenance.
  • CityLink buses began picking-up and dropping-off passengers only at signed bus stop locations, designated CityLink benches and shelters for the routes located in Peoria, Peoria Heights and West Peoria. 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, including:
    • Highest rates of transit ridership on a per person basis in the state
    • Commitment to starting and maintaining Sunday bus service
    • Downtown Peoria Transit Center is well maintained and in a good location for both work and entertainment
  • GPMTD received a $2.3 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as part of the Low or No Emission (Low-No) Bus Program.
    • CityLink plans to use these funds to purchase two battery-electric buses and a charging station.
  • CityLink joined with public transportation systems nationwide to participate in the inaugural National Get on Board Day on April 25 by hosting a press conference/rally. Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), National Get on Board Day is a day that encourages people to support public transportation and showcase the benefits it brings to communities.
  • GPMTD contracted with Nelson\Nygaard Consulting 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 will use when evaluating future route and service changes.
  • GPMTD entered into a contract with Avail Technologies for Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Solutions, which includes:
    • Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) Software – Provides the customer real-time information on the location of vehicles so they will be able to see when they will be arriving at their intended stop.
    • Automatic Voice Annunciation (AVA) Software – Verbally and digitally announces the next stop and offers a rolling digital sign telling the upcoming stop.
    • Automatic Passenger Counters (APC) Software – Has the ability to improve the accuracy and reliability of tracking transit ridership.
    • Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Software – Is an automated telephone system technology that interacts with the callers, gathers the required information and routes the calls to the appropriate recipient.
  • Remodeling began at the Transit Center, including updates to the public restrooms; updates to the drivers’ breakroom and restrooms; updates to the lobby, such as painting; new flooring, modified seating and the installation of new digital signage in the lobby area; reconfiguration of the CityLink and Burlington Trailways offices located at the Transit Center.

The Future

  • Implementation of the aforementioned ITS Solutions is expected in spring/summer 2020.
  • Purchase and receipt of the aforementioned battery-electric buses and charging station is expected in late 2020 or early 2021.
  • Renovation of the current bus service lane is estimated to begin in December 2019, and it is expected to be completed in early 2020. This is phase I of the maintenance/operations/administration facility renovation/construction project in which GPMTD received a $3.6 Million Grant from the FTA in 2018.
  • Exploring funding opportunities for a bus collision avoidance system, which has similar features to the collision avoidance systems found in many contemporary motor vehicles.
  • GPMTD will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2020 with public events planned. More details will be shared once available.
  • Continual updating of routes and service is a top priority to make CityLink synonymous with meeting regional bus transportation needs.
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