MTD might combine Brown, Grey lines

Josh Birnbaum

Josh Birnbaum

By Emily Sokolik

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District is considering a plan to combine the Brown and Grey bus routes.

The Brown line has been increasingly affected by time delays, sometimes running as much as 10 minutes behind schedule, said Mike Stubbe, MTD operations planner.

Established in 1977, the Brown line has followed the same route for the last three decades.

“In that 30 period a lot of things have changed in the community,” said Bill Volk, MTD managing director. “It is a circular route and if we’re going to maintain a clock frequency we are going to have to make some changes.”

Years ago the bus could easily complete the route in 60 minutes, but now takes up to 70 or more to make the trip, Stubbe said.

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In addition to the problem of increased traffic, Stubbe identified another main contributor to the Brown line delays.

“A number of students on campus are now utilizing the Brown to take classes at Parkland,” he said. “There’s only one main access drive to the (Parkland) facility and when we have class changes, there are a lot of people trying to get in and out of the parking lot. Quite a bit of travel delays result from that.”

The proposed solution is to combine the Brown line and the Grey line buses, which both include stops at Parkland College. MTD Board Chairman George Friedman said the plan would be relatively easy to implement.

“The Grey line, which is scheduled for 90 minute service, happens to be faster than it needs to be,” he said, “It could probably do the trip in 80 minutes. Since the Brown and the Grey touch at Parkland, we can hook the two buses together and still get everyone where they need to go.”

If the combining of the two lines is approved, the Brown line will follow the same route until it arrives at Parkland where it will then change to the Grey Line beginning in August 2006. When the Grey Line makes its loop back to Parkland, the bus will resume service as the Brown Line, Stubbe said.

Stubbe also added that the Orange, Red and Blue lines run in the same fashion and encounter no problems operating on schedule.

Currently the MTD is using a GPS based computer system to examine data and pinpoint where the main problems on the route occur. Stubbe said a public hearing and input from the community are needed before the new plan can be implemented.

“We haven’t tried (the plan) yet, but as a regular rider of the Brown line bus, I think this has a lot of potential to work,” Friedman said.