Go West Additions, Improvements, Routes & More
December 6, 2012
MACOMB, IL -- When Western Illinois University students, faculty and staff returned to campus in August, they may have noticed that traffic congestion near Lincoln and Washington halls along Adams Street had eased considerably since last year thanks to the installation of a new bus "cut-out" in front of those halls. A few weeks later, a few blocks to the west, a new cut-out was completed in front of Olson Hall to ease traffic flow at that busy intersection.
According to Jude Kiah, director of Go West, these initiatives are just a few of several for the University and community transit system. In addition to the cut-outs along Adams, the cut-out on the west side of Western Avenue, in front of Horrabin Hall, was "re-claimed" by the system to improve traffic flow along that busy thoroughfare, and within the community, benches and shelters have been installed by the City of Macomb on Johnson Street, Turnberry Village 1 and Eisenhower Towers. Work is currently underway to install a pad and sidewalk along West Adams Street, directly across the street from Lake Ruth.
"The cut-outs really make a difference not only for the safety of our students, but also our drivers and other drivers on the road," Kiah said. "Throughout the years we've learned a lot and we've changed a lot to 'marry' transit with a pedestrian campus. We have a great working relationship with the city, and they've been supportive of our efforts on campus and within the community."
A new "dinner route" has also been established on campus, busing Lincoln-Washington residents to the Corbin-Olson Dining Center. The route also runs from Higgins Hall to Corbin-Olson on the weekends as the Higgins-Thompson Dining Center is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
"We provide the services our students ask for. A portion of their student fees go toward the bus system, and if they are in need of transportation, particularly in inclement weather, to dining facilities, we will do our best to accommodate them," Kiah added. "We are a customer-based system, and we strive to provide the best customer service possible."
During the 2011-2012 academic year, a "transfer center" was established along Randolph Street, across the street from the Macomb Train Station. Buses are available to transport Amtrak riders from the station to campus and community destinations four times daily.
An upcoming initiative is a new bus garage on East Pierce Street, directly next to the Small Business Development Center and Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation, which will open in March. The garage will house Go West/McDonough Transit offices and all maintenance operations for the county-run system. The $13 million project was funded by state and federal grants. A grand opening will be held in Spring 2013.
In March 2011, Shannon Rericha, then a sixth grade student at Edison School in Macomb, hopped on the Go West bus after school Thursday and was celebrated as the system's 15 millionth rider. On Feb. 22, 1999, Western launched the Go West Transit System with three buses and two routes. Today, 30 buses and 17 routes, including several community routes, like the daily stop at Edison School, comprise WIU's and the McDonough County Public Transportation System's fixed route bus system. Go West carries approximately 55,000 riders each week.
In 2010, Go West was named the inaugural recipient of the Gold Award for Bus Security Program Excellence from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Go West was the only system in the nation in the under four-million ridership category to receive the Gold Award. In 2008, the Go West system was one of 10 transit systems -- and the only rural fixed route system -- in the U.S. honored by the Federal Transit Administration Award for Success in Enhancing Ridership.
"Our system continues to grow, and as we continue to grow, we will provide additional services for our riders. Since 1999, our non-University ridership has increased by 330,000. Since July 1 of this year, we've already carried 850,000 riders throughout campus and the community," Kiah noted. "We've seen large increases in a short amount of time, and if our past numbers are any indication, I expect to carry 1.8 million riders in Fiscal Year 2013."
Riders can track the buses via a "live tracker" app available as a free download through the Apple iTunes App Store at http://tinyurl.com/62hyjxu and the Android Market at http://tinyurl.com/6clczu8. Once the application is installed, select "Western Illinois University."
In addition to the app, riders can also have text messages sent to a cell phone to find out when the next bus will arrive in real time. A cell phone symbol appears on bus stop signs along Go West routes, with instructions on how to receive a text when the next few buses will arrive at that particular stop.
For complete routes and times, visit wiu.edu/gowest.