MTD plans long-range expansion

By Marcia Harris

The Champaign Regional Planning Commission is making plans for the future that promise to impact University students and area residents. It recently unveiled the Long Range Transportation Plan 2005(LRTP), in the hopes of creating a transportation system equipped to handle the anticipated urbanization of Champaign-Urbana over the next 20 years. MTD Managing Director, Bill Bolk, said Senator Dick Durbin contributed half a million dollars to the Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study. The two year study will help the commission assess what changes need to be made.

“A lot of changes have already taken place on the fringes of the Champaign-Urbana area, but automobile traffic is still increasing. We need to do more in the core areas to provide people with alternatives like walking, cycling, or catching public transportation. We want to see how we can incorporate bike routes and other things from a non-automobile perspective,” Bolk said.

Bolk said the commission hopes to implement a high capacity transportation system for the U of I district.

The LRTP 2005 is expected to benefit University students and residents significantly. Noticeable changes have already been made on campus and at the Illinois Terminal. Bus stops now feature Stopwatches, electronic signs that display bus schedules and arrival times. The Illinois Terminal has similar electronic signs to make public transportation more efficient for passengers.

Ibrahim Sorie, junior in LAS, likes the changes he has seen so far.

“I think the new things are good. I like that they have the schedules posted and (stopwatches) at the bus shelters now.” Sorie said.

Sorie said he thinks it is reasonable to increase taxes because the changes will significantly benefit residents.

“It would be good if the buses came more often, maybe every 15 minutes, especially off-campus buses. There should also be some kind of service on holidays even if it ends early,” said Sorie.

Smit Shah, senior in engineering, is a frequent MTD rider and thinks express bus service would make a big difference.

“They could have express buses that go from the dorms directly to the Quad, without stops, five to ten minutes before classes begin,” Shah said.

Once LRTP 2005 is completed, the commission plans to have bus service with minimal stops between off-campus and core areas of the community. They hope to encourage people to consider the option of taking public transportation and minimizing congestion.