In With The New, Out With The Less New

Where buses go when they retire from C-U

The delivery of 13 new buses to Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) earlier this summer garnered a fair amount of excitement, and a lot of questions, too. Two of the most frequent questions posed to MTD are, “Where do retired buses go?” and “Why retire buses at all?”

MTD New Flyer D40LF 0315, bound for Connect Transit in Bloomington-Normal.

When the District receives new buses, the buses retired from the fleet face a variety of dispositions. MTD replaces buses in step with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) guidelines on vehicle service life and replacement. For a transit bus, the minimum service life according to the FTA is 12 years of service or 500,000 service miles. The buses MTD is currently retiring have each reached the 12-year mark, and have either exceeded or are nearing the 500,000 mile mark.

One of MTD’s 2005 ElDorado buses, stripped of all MTD-specific components, down to the stripes!

This year, MTD plans to retire 15 2003 New Flyer D40LF model buses, which have been a MTD workhorse since their delivery 14 years ago. 11 of these 15 vehicles have found a new home at Connect Transit in Bloomington-Normal, IL. Four more buses slated for replacement (0316, 0332, 0336, & 0337) will be salvaged for parts before being scrapped, helping keep MTD’s remaining 2003s in service until they too are retired.

The last two buses retired this year from Champaign-Urbana’s fleet are 2005 ElDorado 30-foot buses, the only ElDorados that remained in the MTD fleet. These have been sold to MetroLINK in Rock Island, IL, which operates a fleet consisting largely of other ElDorado buses. The sale of these buses helps standardize the MTD fleet with New Flyer buses, as now 106 out of MTD’s 111 buses are New Flyer models.

CUMTD New Flyer D40LF 0336, bound for scrap.

Another rarely exercised disposition option is preservation. Over the years, MTD has kept and preserved a few examples of buses they have rostered. There are currently three buses in MTD’s vintage fleet. The oldest bus is numbered 2880, a 1958 GMC “Old Look” bus restored in the two-tone green scheme of MTD predecessor Champaign-Urbana City Lines, a bus which many Champaign-Urbana area residents recognize from 4th of July parades and other events. This bus never actually operated for City Lines, coming to MTD from Quincy Transit in Quincy, Illinois to be preserved.

CUMTD 2880, the 1958 GMC TGH-3102 “Old Look” bus.

Next up in the vintage fleet is bus 4515, a 1971 GMC “New Look” bus.

CUMTD 4515, the 1971 GMC T6H-4521A “New Look” bus.

Finally, there is bus 3703, a 1984 Flxible Metro. The bus wears MTD’s previous red, white and blue paint scheme, consisting of a band of straight lines rather than the swooping curves used on MTD buses today.

CUMTD 3703, the 1984 Flxible Metro.

There are many options for what can happen to a MTD bus when it is retired. Whether it finds new work elsewhere or provides parts for the rest of MTD’s fleet, these retired buses help keep transit service running not just in Champaign-Urbana, but wherever they go!

Written by MTD Intern Jacob Rajlich. MTD offers mobility options to residents of Champaign, Urbana & Savoy, Illinois that include buses, rides for seniors, ADA Paratransit, ZipCar availability, SafeRides home for Illinois students at night, and resources to encourage walkability, biking, and safety.