Petition should ask us for more than our names

Some of you might have been heading home last Wednesday night, when right in the middle of the route, the bus stopped and the driver stepped down from his seat and asked you to sign a petition form for a referendum. And more than likely, you had no idea what it was for.

That was the case for a lot of students, including some of us. It was a complete surprise to see the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District circulating petitions soliciting student support for a referendum that would expand some of the bus routes and services. The referendum has ISS approval and is now seeking ours to create more services and routes.

What could be wrong with that? More services and routes sounds like a win-win situation. The bus drivers get paid a little more, and we get more out of our student transportation fees. But wait, there has to be a catch. There’s always a catch. So what is it? The only clear catch is that students would end up paying $12 more in addition to our student transportation fees, which were $38 this school year.

Among other plans that you probably didn’t hear from your bus driver while the petition was being passed around, this particular proposition for a referendum on the ballot would include changing bus routes 21, 23, 24 and 26. The new system would accompany an altered 22 Illini route, a route which was originally designed by students who knew where students needed the most transportation. Which leaves us wondering why they would want to alter the 22 Illini route at all.

Compared to our fellow Big Ten schools, we like to think that we have the best bus system. We have unlimited access and the routes take us where we need to go. Theoretically, if you’re smart and can manage your time shopping for groceries once or twice a month, you really don’t need a car because the bus system is so convenient. So why all the change?

The proposition also includes more late-night service and increased access to downtown Champaign. No one can validly argue that those aren’t great ideas. But in order for students to know what they’re signing their name to on that petition, they need to know how the MTD plans on executing those ideas.

If we’re being solicited to sign our names on a petition for more services and routes, we want to know how the new services and routes would be implemented and who would design them. Students designed the 22 Illini route, which has run smoothly so far, so we propose that students get to take part in the new changes. Instead of just asking us to sign our names on the petition, how about taking some of our input and altering the routes according to what students say?

Although the ISS members may have a general idea of what’s best for students, in the end we are all the ones riding the bus to the movies, to the bars and to Meijer. We will have to deal with whatever happens, so let us be a part of the change rather than just another name on the petition.