River Valley Metro Mass Transit District was formed in September 1998. The initial members of the district were Kankakee County, the City of Kankakee, Village of Aroma Park and the Village of Bourbonnais. The Village of Bradley joined in December of 2000 and the Village of Manteno joined in July of 2006.
River Valley Metro initiated service in July 1999 taking over the Kankakee Area Transit System (KATS). Hourly service was provided to Meadowview, Kankakee/Northfield Square Mall, Mulberry/Eastgate, Riverview/Aroma Park, Kankakee Community College, West Kankakee, and a Bourbonnais Flex Route. River Valley Metro also provides ADA service with Metro PLUS. In April 2000, the Medical Center route was added and in March of 2001 a Bradley route was added. Commuter service to University Park was implemented in 2005 and in 2006 a stop was added in Manteno for the University Park Route.
On August 11, 2008, two new routes were added to the River Valley Metro schedule and increased service was also added to KCC and Eastgate with half-hour headways. Service is now provided to exit 308 and Wal-Mart and a new fixed route was added in Manteno. With the new route in Manteno a new partner was added, Manteno Township.
With ridership continuing to climb, Metro created a new route to help alleviate the ridership load on the Meadowview and KCC buses. On July 8, 2013 Metro began the North South Connector route. This route ran Monday – Friday during peak ridership hours from 8 am – 5 pm. The new route created the opportunity for riders to get from the St. Vincent DePaul transfer center to the south part of Kankakee on a single bus. This bus also provided additional stops at some of the most popular destinations, such as ULTRA Foods, Kankakee Community College, Jewel, and Wal-Mart.
In January of 2014, River Valley Metro added a second commuter route with this one serving Midway Airport. For a $2 one way trip passengers can travel from the Manteno Metro Centre on Oak Street in downtown Manteno to the public transportation hub at Midway Airport.
After a year of research and planning, including rider surveys and feedback, major changes occurred to River Valley Metro’s routes and schedules beginning July 1, 2017. All changes were designed to make the system more efficient for its users, with the goal of shorter wait times and travel times for most. With streamlined routes and the addition of peak time services, many locations are now served twice per hour instead of hourly.