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Q&A Session with GPMTD Board Secretary Sharon McBride

L-R: Jerome Lilly, Alice Nobles-Arn, and Sharon McBride attend an APTA conference in 2003.

We recently shared that GPMTD Board Secretary Sharon McBride was selected by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) as the 2020 Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member.  Sharon has been on the GPMTD Board of Trustees for more than 23 years and she has shown exemplary advocacy and dedication for public transportation and the local Peoria community during her tenure.  We conducted a Q&A session with Sharon to learn more about her time on the Board and what it means to her to be on the GPMTD Board of Trustees and to be selected by APTA as the 2020 Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member.

Q1: How did you first become involved on the GPMTD Board of Trustees? What motivated you to accept the appointment by the West Peoria Township Supervisor?

A: I served as a Township Trustee for West Peoria prior to my appointment on the GPMTD Board of Trustees. I had an interest in transportation and always enjoyed seeing the buses on the road. I knew there was an opportunity to join the GPMTD Board with the departure of West Peoria representative Ray Tilly in 1997. I was pleased the West Peoria Township Supervisor at the time selected me to replace Mr. Tilly on the GPMTD Board. I felt that I would be able to make an impact for the transit district (known at this time as GP Transit).

Sharon (second from left) poses with former CityLink GM Tom Lucek (far left) and former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood (second from right) at an APTA event.

Q2: How have the services provided by GPMTD/CityLink changed during your tenure on the Board?

A: Many things have changed during my tenure on the Board. There have been changes in the number and types of buses in the fleet; the addition of service in Pekin, North Pekin, and Creve Coeur; the addition of CityLift paratransit services; and the addition of CountyLink rural transportation services. One of the most exciting changes that took place while I was Board Chair was the opening of Downtown Peoria Transit Center in 2003.

Public transportation industry technology is ever evolving. I believe the management and staff at CityLink continues to explore new opportunities to update its operations and fleet and offer the most environmentally friendly transportation option in the Greater Peoria area.

Q3: What accomplishment of GPMTD/CityLink have you been most proud of during your tenure on the Board?

A: In 2002, CityLink began offering night service. I had the opportunity to ride the bus on the first night with Jerome Lilly, who later became General Manager of CityLink. We had a great time and I vividly remember meeting a passenger who was a mother with three small children. She spoke to us about how the addition of night service was going to make her life so much easier, allowing her to work later and still be able to pick up her children from childcare. It was rewarding to see, first-hand, that a decision made by the GPMTD Board of Trustees was positively impacting the lives of those who ride our transportation services.

Sharon McBride (center in black dress holding shovel) at the groundbreaking for the Downtown Peoria Transit Center.

Q4: Do you have memories of the service provided by GPMTD/CityLink prior to your appointment on the Board of Trustees?

A: I remember seeing the buses and I used to the ride the bus when I was in high school and college. I have fond memories of taking my children and grandchildren on bus rides when they were young. They always got a kick out of riding the big buses and exploring the local community using a mode of transportation they weren’t used to.

Q5: What do you think makes GPMTD/CityLink a vital part of the local economy?

A: Transportation is often a big hurdle for many people trying to gain employment or go to school. CityLink bus service is the most inexpensive and dependable way you can travel. It only costs $1 per ride to catch a CityLink bus, and you can’t beat that price with any other mode of transportation in the Greater Peoria area. The buses are clean (even more so than usual due to COVID-19) and the drivers are friendly and helpful. Additionally, CityLink is a proud community partner with several businesses and organizations and serves as a resource for local non-profit organizations.

Q6: Can you share how your involvement in APTA has helped broaden your knowledge of the public transportation industry?

A: APTA provides agencies across North America with opportunities to learn about transit agencies of various sizes and demographics. It also provides an opportunity to meet fellow colleagues in the transit industry, which in turn, offers a chance to share information and ideas. I learn something new every time I attend an APTA event.

Sharon at the West Peoria 4th of July Parade in 2010 – during CityLink’s 40th Anniversary celebration.

Q7: What have been some of your favorite aspects of being involved in APTA?

A: I have enjoyed being part of different committees and getting to know transit colleagues from different corners of North America. Even though all agencies differ in size, there always seems to be similarities that we can relate to from agency to agency. I have also had the chance to visit other transit properties through my involvement in APTA.

Q8: What are some your favorite memories of being on the GPMTD Board of Trustees?

A: One of my favorite memories is the opening of the Transit Center. That was a long awaited and much needed facility. Before it opened, the buses used to converge, and passengers would transfer from bus-to-bus, on the street. The Transit Center offers passengers a safe place to transfer and the opportunity to use the restroom and other facilities. I am also proud to serve as the chair of the Stuff-A-Bus food drive committee. I am amazed every year to see the amount of food collected on the bus, which is a direct reflection of the generosity of our local community.

I sincerely enjoy meeting with the CityLink management and staff that keep CityLink moving, and the passengers who are the reason we do what we do.

Q9: What does it mean to you to be on GPMTD Board of Trustees and to have been selected as the 2020 APTA Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member?

A: It has been an honor to represent West Peoria and serve on the GPMTD Board of Trustees for the past 23 years. I am equally honored to have been selected as the 2020 APTA Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member. I take great pride in representing smaller transit agencies in my work through APTA, and in turn, represent the Greater Peoria area to people from all over the country.

The 2020 APTA Awards winners will be recognized during the association’s TRANScend virtual meetings on October 21-22, and formally honored at a ceremony during APTA’s 2021 TRANSform Conference & EXPO on March 14-17, 2021.

CityLink would like to offer their congratulations to Sharon McBride on this honor and thank her for her dedication serving on the GPMTD Board of Trustees for the last 23 years!

Sharon riding a CityLink bus on Jerome Lilly Passenger Appreciation Day in 2013.

L-R: Sharon with fellow GPMTD Board Trustees Maxine Wortham and Joan Krupa checking out one of the new diesel-electric hybrid buses in 2016.

L-R: Sharon McBride, Homer from the Peoria Chiefs, Dennis Kaufman from CityLink, and Corey Sebens from CityLink/ATU #416 at the 2019 Stuff-A-Bus Annual Day of Stuffing.

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