Why do some 10W Goldhoppers' destination signs read "10W Goldhopper" while others read "10W Gold E-14"? Ex: I boarded this route at Nevada & Goodwin today at 12:19, and the sign didn't say hopper, even though the driver said it was a hopper. Confusing!
Hoppers travel the center portion of their parent route, providing more frequency to high demand areas. Hoppers also focus on connecting riders to transfer hubs which are Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign, the Illini Union and Transit Plaza on campus, and Lincoln Square in downtown Urbana.
There are times, however, where buses will serve a portion of the parent route, but then only go as far east or west, north or south, as the Hopper's terminus point. In the case of the Gold and GOLDhopper, there are over a dozen trips during the service day where a bus starts at the eastern most point of the route but only goes as far as Lot E-14. On the flip side, there are many trips where the Gold begins at the western most point of the route but only travel as far as Lincoln Square.
The Yellow and the YELLOWhopper also operate under the same circumstances, where a trip begins at the furthest point of the route (which is uncharacteristic of a "Hopper") but then reverses direction at the point where a Hopper would.
As a result, the destination signs must notify passengers boarding outside of the Hopper boundaries that the Yellow or Gold bus they are about to catch will not be travelling the entirety of the route. When the "10W Gold Lot E-14," for example, finishes serving the portion of the route outside of the Hopper boundaries (Lincoln Square to Lot E-14) the driver should switch the destination sign to read "10 W GOLDhopper Lot E-14." Sometimes this switch doesn't occur due to operator oversight.
The good news is that riders are still being notified that a particular trip of the Gold will not traverse the entire route. More good news: we are currently testing an automatic destination sign flip! Because all of our buses are connected to GPS trackers for the STOPwatch real-time information, MTD is going to add another layer of software to detect when a bus has reached a point in the route where the destination signs need to display a new set of information. This will help to standardize our entire system and put fewer demands on our operators.
Hopefully this lengthy response has given you some clarification! Please don't hesitate to ask us another question! Thanks for riding.