News Local/State

MTD Warming Bus Offers Shelter To Commuters During Extreme Cold


The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District warming bus parked near a stop at Round Barn Centre in Champaign to offer shelter to commuters. Anna Casey/Illinois Public Media

Classes at schools and the state’s flagship university campus were cancelled, local government offices were shuttered and even some Champaign-Urbana coffee shops closed their doors due to the life-threatening wind chills in the area Wednesday. But despite the closings, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District continued their bus routes and offered free rides to help commuters who had to brave the cold.

The Mass Transit District also established a warming bus Wednesday where riders could sit and wait for their transfer at the MTD stop near Round Barn Centre.

“We have several buses that pull in here, and they (people) transfer to get on another bus,” Metro Transit District employee Gervaise Williams said from inside the warming bus. “We want to have a shelter for them to keep warm while they wait for the next transfer point.”

Because of all the closures, Williams said traffic on the warming bus had been fairly slow, but she had seen several people try to enter the nearby DMV, which was shuttered due to the wind chills that got as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

“I have noticed several people trying to get in there,” Williams said.

She soon spotted University of Illinois student Pavel Perevoznikov waiting outside the shuttered DMV and drove the warming bus across the parking lot to invite him inside.

Perevoznikov said he recently moved to the area from near St. Petersburg, Russia, where government buildings rarely close due to the cold.

“Schools may be closed, but not public offices and so on … until it’s minus 35 Celsius, things generally work pretty well,” Perevoznikov said.

His advice for staying warm is to wear lots of layers of clothes as the arctic air hovers over the Midwest until Thursday morning. A wind chill advisory remains in effect for central Illinois until noon on Thursday. Dangerous wind chills could lead to frostbite on exposed skin in as little as ten minutes.

Warmer weather is expected in the area over the weekend, something Williams said she looks forward to.

“If you look ahead, we’re going to get warm weather again,” Williams said. “It’s Illinois and that’s just the way I look at it.”