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Rural transit ridership surges

By Dave Hinton/Rantoul Press -- When CRIS Rural Mass Transit District began serving residents of northern Champaign County, officials figured it would take two years to reach the ridership levels of 1,000 passengers a month. It didn’t take nearly that long – only a few months.

“I guess the need has been far greater than we predicted,” CEO Amy Marchant said.

There was a definite need for a rural public transportation system, said the woman who serves as CEO of CRIS Healthy Aging Center of Danville, which operates the service.

Total ridership has skyrocketed from 514 in May to 1,178 in August, the latest figures available.

File Photo/CU-CitizenAccess -- CRIS Rural Transit driver Bob Dunagan prepares to make the rounds to Rantoul to pick up three riders headed to Champaign-Urbana. CRIS recently began providing transportation to rural residents through an agreement with Champaign County.

Congressional hearing highlights challenges accessing broadband service

By Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media -- People who live in a city may take broadband Internet service for granted. But in many rural areas, broadband service is hard or even impossible to obtain.

The issue of broadband access was the spotlight of a recent congressional field hearing in Springfield. (Listen to the audio story here

Screen shot from - a tool that helps consumers analyze broadband access in their communities

Rural poverty presents unique challenges

By Dan Petrella/CU-CitizenAccess – Brenda MacPeek’s husband used to earn decent money as a long-haul truck driver, making runs all the way out to Colorado.  

But last September, the couple lost their home in Aroma Park, near Kankakee, because they were both out of work. They relocated to a doublewide mobile home in Ludlow, a town of 371 in northeastern Champaign County.

Dan Petrella/CU-CitizenAccess - Rhonda Moore, a Ludlow school board member, helped start a food pantry in the rural Champaign County town. Held the fourth Saturday of each month, the pantry has seen demand increase steadily since opening three years ago.

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