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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.
  • 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.
  • CityLink route and schedule information became available in Google Maps in late 2016.

2017

  • GPMTD welcomed Doug Roelfs as General Manager.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 is using to evaluate future route and service changes.

2020 –

  • GPMTD celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2020 with a video series featuring information on the transportation services provided and important milestones of its history. Due to COVID-19, all public events had to be postponed.  The GPMTD Board of Trustees and management and staff at CityLink are hopeful they will be able to proceed with hosting events in 2021.
  • Began Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Solutions project with Avail Technologies.
    • Including: Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) Software; Automatic Voice Annunciation (AVA) Software; and Automatic Passenger Counters (APC) Software
  • Remodel project was completed at the Transit Center. This included updates to the public restrooms; remodel of the drivers’ breakroom and restrooms; remodel of the Customer Service office; remodel of the Security office; remodel to the lobby, such as painting, new flooring, and updated vending machines; and remodel of the Mobility Management/Benefit Access offices.
  • CityLink was selected as the recipient of $1.23 million to fund the purchase of one 35-foot battery-electric bus, the battery lease and the accompanying charging equipment as part of the Edwards Settlement Fund Distribution.
  • CityLink added a COVID-19 Resource page to its website to provide the most recent updates and information available regarding the steps being taken to ensure the safety and health of employees and passengers. The website is available at ridecitylink.org/covid19.
  • Phase I of the bus maintenance and operations facilities rebuild/renovation project.
    • Completed the renovation of the bus wash located in the CityLink Maintenance garage.
  • CityLink received a $10 million grant from the FTA for the construction of bus maintenance and operations facilities.
    • One of 96 projects selected nationwide that will be funded by the FTA’s Buses and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program.
  • Received two CountyLink replacement vehicles that were purchased through the State of Illinois Consolidated Vehicle Procurement (CVP) Program.
  • Began plans to implement route/schedule changes based on the outcome of the CityLink on the Move transit study that was completed in 2019.
  • Purchased a new wrecker/tow truck that is expected to be delivered in fall 2020.

The Future

  • Implementation of the aforementioned ITS Solutions.
  • Receipt of the aforementioned battery-electric buses and charging stations are expected in summer 2021.
    • Two 40’ Proterra battery-electric buses and charging station
    • One 35’ Proterra battery-electric bus and charging station
  • Planned implementation of a bus collision avoidance system, which has similar features to the collision avoidance systems found in many contemporary motor vehicles.
  • Planned installation and deployment of new demand-response paratransit software.
  • Micro-transit Study is expected to begin in early 2021 and it is expected to be completed by September 30, 2021.
    • The study is intended to determine how on-demand micro-transit solutions could be used to improve first mile, last mile mobility and fixed route transit ridership within the urbanized areas.
  • New Paratransit Vehicles
    • Five CityLift vehicles and two CityLink Supervisor vehicles
    • Three CountyLink replacement vehicles
  • Phase II of the bus maintenance and operations facilities rebuild/renovation project.
    • This phase is expected to be completed by July 2021 and it will include the design and construction of a rear building that will house the future paint and body shop.
  • Continual updating of routes and service is a top priority to make CityLink synonymous with meeting regional bus transportation needs.
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