MTD discusses possible fee increases


Bill Volk, left, Managing Director of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, makes a presentation to the CUMTD Board of Trustees during a board study session for fiscal year 2009 at the District’s Administration Building in Urbana on Monday, April 14, 2009.

By Steve Lesniewski

On Monday afternoon, 20 members of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District Board of Trustees gathered at their main office to review the 2009 fiscal budget and discuss options for 2010.

They also talked about how to integrate new bus routes and a possible increase in a service fee, which was voted on in campus-wide elections in March.

However, Bill Volk, managing director of MTD, said he was doubtful that the company’s plans would be completed by the time the University Board of Trustees meet in May.

“We’re developing schedules and route structures, we just don’t know what the total level of service we’ll be providing with that at this point,” Volk said. “I’m not sure how we’re going to get everything done (by) the May board meeting. They may be able to at least address the fee issue.”

A service fee of $38 is charged to students each year to use MTD’s services, which would be an increased to $50 for the 2009-10 school year.

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The service fee is pending approval by the University trustees. During campuswide elections on March 5, students voted by a margin of 3,119 to 3,056 in favor of the $12 increase. However, the Student Election Commission did not certify the results, citing possible confusion amongst students about what exactly the fee would cover.

“That (fee) hasn’t been changed in four years,” Volk said. “The referendum approved it to go to $50 and at this point I have no idea when the administration is going to recommend to the Board of Trustees the $50 level.”

The meeting began with an overview of the past year’s revenue and expenses. The MTD plans to purchase nine new buses, all of which will be hybrids. According to the trustees, plans for next year’s budget are currently in the drafting process and will be reviewed at meetings in May and June.

“We are just looking at options right now,” said Willard Broom, an MTD board member.

As for a renovated route system, MTD board members say new bus schedules and destinations will provide better service to those travelling between campus and the neighboring Champaign-Urbana area. In addition, Volk discussed the University’s request “to reduce routes on Wright Street” and said some of the adjustments “will change people’s travel patterns.”

Tom Costello, a 35-year veteran of the MTD board, indicated that making modifications has been difficult.

“It has been a Herculean effort changing the bus routes.”

Volk agreed that altering the system and implementing it before May would be no easy task.

“If we change something we’re going to have to adjust it on the fly,” he said. “You can’t just put a route out there … and there’s really no way until you put it out there to know what it’s going to do. It’s similar to, you never know what the basketball team is going to be like until you throw it out there.”