Stimulus money finds its way to the MTD

By Erik Allgood

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District will be receiving $2.75 million from the federal stimulus package that it must spend on infrastructure and capital purchases.

The MTD is receiving this money as part of the Federal Recovery and Reinvestments Act, which is shelling out $8 billion for transportation systems throughout the country.

The money is being distributed based on population and population density.

Champaign-Urbana is only one of many communities in Illinois that is receiving money, according to Bill Volk, managing director for the MTD.

“I know that students pay a transportation fee whether we like it or not,” said Jay Collins, junior in LAS. “But it really is beneficial for the students.”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Volk said the company is using part of the money to make changes that affect the campus community.

The company is purchasing two driving simulators which will be used to train new drivers and re-train older drivers in a safe environment.

“The simulators contain software that simulates a campus environment during the busiest times,” Volk said, “This gives our drivers the preparation they need for the campus.”

The simulators will make the training easier by allowing two drivers to train at once. This form of training will reduce wear on the vehicles and the amount of gasoline that is used during the training process. The simulators employ a screen in the front and two screens on either side of the driver. They are similar to a video game with a motion simulator, Volk said.

Along with the infrastructure changes, the MTD is also fitting exhaust filters on 40 of its buses in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint.

None of the stimulus money will be used to offset the recently increased operating costs paid for by tuition money.

“The stimulus money can only be used for infrastructure or capital goods,” Volk said. “Rules tied to the money will not let it be used in this way.”

Max Docauer, sophomore in Engineering, said that he would like to see changes made to the way the routes are organized.

“There has got to be a better way to organize the buses on the Quad and Six-Pack so that there aren’t a bunch of empty buses driving around,” Docauer said, “They seem to have a solid infrastructure; they don’t need to pour money into that.”

Collins said that he would like to see more bus routes running later at night.

Volk said that because this is a one-time grant from the state government, using it to pay for operating costs would not solve the problem in the long run.

“It would only help for a short period of time,” Volk said, “We will only get this one stimulus.”