Budget cuts could hurt bus system

By Camille Murray

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, or CUMTD, is facing budget cuts, and if enacted, will result in changes to local bus services.

According to Bryan Smith, CUMTD chief operating officer, the transportation service could potentially see a 20 percent decrease in state funding. Currently, approximately $220 million is available for use in downstate Illinois, but a recent proposal by Gov. Bruce Rauner could cut the number to $150 million.

Smith said the proposed budget cut would ultimately result in a 69,000 hour reduction in CUMTD service, and 25,000 of those hours would come from bus services currently offered to University students.

“This isn’t something where we’d just be able to trim expenses without cutting service,” he said. “We have two main sources of expense. The first is labor and the second is the cost of running the buses down the road.”

Last year alone, 103 CUMTD buses made 13 million passenger trips.

If the budget cuts are approved, CUMTD may also have to make changes to current bus routes. At this point, however, Smith said the company is unsure of which routes will be affected.

“You hate to try to start planning now for what’s going to be cut when you don’t know what’s going to be cut,” he said. “You don’t know if it’s going to end up being the 20 percent cut that we’re told to expect or the governor proposed, or if there’s going to be some sort of compromise, or if we would be protected and there wouldn’t be any cuts.”

The budget proposal will be discussed at a state legislative session scheduled for the end of May.

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