MTD to reduce campus service for spring semester

Students+step+onto+a+MTD+bus+at+the+Illinois+terminal+on+Oct.+20%2C+2019.

Jeffrey Hsu

Students step onto a MTD bus at the Illinois terminal on Oct. 20, 2019.

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) will be reducing its spring semester campus services starting Jan. 24. 

The service and frequency of MTD rides will mimic the model that was in place over winter break, with some changes. 

“The service that we run during (breaks) is basically what students are going to have in the spring semester,” said Amy Snyder, chief of staff for MTD. “The only difference is that we’re going to offer more (22 Illini) service than we would if you guys were on break.”

According to Snyder, these service reductions came after the University contacted MTD regarding “compromised revenue streams.”

“The University needed MTD to pull back the service because they could not pay for the normal full UI service that we normally provide,” Snyder said.

The University maintains a service contract with MTD that dictates the specific routes and level of service MTD provides for on campus bus routes. These routes are in turn funded by the University through campus fees. 

“Students are asking for fees to be reduced and the University is accommodating those requests,” Snyder said.

According to a press release by MTD, the 2 Red, 12 Teal, 13 Silver and 22 Illini bus routes will be affected and will run at 20-minute intervals instead of the normal 10-minute intervals.

“Every digital tool that students, faculty and staff use to look at the service is going to be fully updated,” Snyder said.

Additionally, MTD will be cutting back late-night and weekend bus service, and SafeRides will only run until 12:30 a.m. during the spring semester.

MTD’s rationale for reducing SafeRides services is that there would likely be less campus movement after midnight, according to Snyder.

“With a lot of campus buildings restricting their hours, and group activities really at a minimum because of COVID, cutting back on that midnight service made sense,” Snyder said.

Furthermore, Snyder also notes that MTD has been experiencing challenges with staffing due to the effects of the pandemic on their operations.

“We have operators who need to quarantine, or have COVID-related childcare issues,” Snyder said. “We also needed to plan the service based on our ability to staff it.”

While MTD plans on reducing service for their campus routes during the spring semester, Snyder noted that their community service will not change because they are “just funded differently” than campus routes.

Currently, MTD plans on returning to full campus service next fall semester. 

However, Snyder notes that MTD may make adjustments if the University approaches them again, as “COVID seems to have a way of being continuously unpredictable.”

“Our current plan and understanding with the University is that come the start of the fall semester, students can see a return to 10-minute-frequencies, SafeRides running all night, the late-night service, et cetera,” Snyder said. 

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