C-U buses more popular as gas prices soar

By Jeremy Werner

Ridership of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District reached 1,077,889 in April, a 10.44 percent increase from last year’s passengers.

MTD board member John Chato said it is “safe to say” that increased fuel prices have been a cause of the increase in riders off campus, but said a rainy month was likely the cause of the 90,000 increase in University students using the MTD. Average gas prices in Illinois rose from $3.517 a gallon in April to $4.071 at time of press Wednesday.

Chato said he did not have preliminary May ridership figures.

The MTD Board of Trustees also unanimously approved the purchase of four hybrid buses from New Flyer of America, at its monthly meeting Wednesday. The 60 foot long, 102 inch wide buses are expected to be about 30 percent more fuel efficient and could save the MTD $11,500, per bus, in fuel costs per year. The hybrids are also more environmentally friendly, producing fewer emissions. It is unknown when the buses will be put into service, but the board hopes they will be on a route sometime in 2009.

The articulated, or accordion-style, buses are expected to be continued for use on the University campus because they can hold a large load of passengers. MTD hopes to use the hybrid buses for 15 to 20 years. The board also said it plans to consider buying 30-foot hybrid buses in the future.

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