Illinois awards more than $112 million to downstate transit providers

Nov. 16, 2020
The grants will go to 31 transit providers to purchase new vehicles and equipment, as well as advance other capital projects.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) awarded $112.5 million to 31 downstate transit providers through a capital program that was part of the $45-billion Rebuild Illinois legislation that passed into law in 2019.  

The legislation included more than $355 million to support downstate transit agencies and the $112 million awarded Nov. 13 is the first of three rounds of grants to distribute the funding. The next call for proposals in 2021 and 2023 will distribute the remaining funds.

“Over the next five years, downstate communities will receive $121 million to improve and expand transit services – that’s on top of the work that’s already been done in year one, which delivered $2.7 billion in improvements to over 1,700 miles of highway and over 120 bridges statewide. These projects will improve the quality of life for downstate residents and provide good jobs to grow our economy in every region,” said Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

IDOT says the funds awarded on Nov. 13 will be used to expand and improve service, which will provide more transportation options and promote an enhanced quality of life in communities throughout the state.

The funds were awarded to 19 rural transit providers and 12 urban transit providers who will use the grants to purchase new vehicles and other equipment, as well as for the construction of new bus shelters, stations and maintenance facilities.

“Transit in our downstate communities can be a lifeline for getting to work or school, a doctor’s appointment or a trip to the grocery store,” said Acting Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “This funding through Rebuild Illinois means these providers finally will have the resources they need to improve service in communities that have not seen this type of investment for many years.”

Rural transit providers account for $24.96 million of the grants. The largest of the rural grants went to Rides Mass Transit District, which serves the Carbondale area. The transit district will use its $9.8-million grant to upgrade information technology items, construct three facilities, purchase bus and maintenance equipment and shelters.

Another highlight from the rural transit grants is the $505,494 grant awarded to Kendall County, which will be used to purchase a bus surveillance system, two medium-duty paratransit buses, new radios and to engineer and design a new bus terminal for Kendall Area Transit.

Urban transit providers account for $87.55 million of the grants. The largest of these grants was awarded to Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (GPMTD) for $16.75 million. The funds will be used to construct a new facility and make improvements to pre-engineered buildings. GPMTD will also use the grant to purchase equipment to improve day-to-day operations of the system such as a driver simulator, bus camera system, driver barriers and new fareboxes.

Connect Transit received a $9.92-million grant that will be used to expand and improve service in downtown Bloomington, purchase four 35-foot electric buses and help complete an additional 90 bus stops as part of its Better Bus Stops for Bloomington-Normal campaign.

“We are very pleased and gratified to receive this additional funding commitment from the state of Illinois. This takes us one step closer toward realizing our dream of a new Downtown Bloomington Transfer Center,” stated Chairman Ryan Whitehouse.

The Downtown Bloomington Transfer Center will serve 10 bus routes, offer riders protection from weather and provide improved safety, access, amenities and transit service. Connect Transit also received an $8-million grant from the Federal Transit Administration this year for the project.

A complete list of local providers and awards can be viewed at

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.