University partly to blame for late buses

By Wilhelm Hultin, Columnist

Few things are as frustrating as standing by the Illini Union in the cold rain waiting for a bus that never seems to come. In these times, I look toward the sky and curse the Gods. There hasn’t been one single day since I arrived at the University of Illinois where at least one bus I’ve waited for hasn’t been late.

There are no official statistics provided by the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit  over the punctuality of the buses, so this only comes from personal experience. I live in Orchard Downs, a University housing complex situated just off campus to the southeast. I have to take the bus to campus everyday. It’s the source of the anguish I experience.

While the late buses point to problems within the company, the University of Illinois should take some of the blame for it. Every student attending this University is required to pay a service fee of $62 in exchange for a bus pass. Currently, over 47,000 students are enrolled at the University and all students that study more than six credits a semester are forced to pay this fee, regardless of personal preference.

As a direct result of this, CUMTD has a lesser economic incentive to be punctual and keep its customers happy; the deal with the University guarantees a steady pool of customers. CUMTD doesn’t have to worry about students picking another alternative to travel around campus since they’re in monetarily obligated to the company anyway.

Personally, I would love to get a bike instead of taking the bus. But, I don’t think it’s a sound economic investment given the fact I’ve already paid $62 for a bus pass, and winter is coming.

What the University should do is give students the choice to pay for a bus pass or not. The current system undermines the basic principle of a free market: the principle that forces companies to perform or else lose its customers.

Both CUMTD and the University would be surprised in how many students would rather spend their money on something else than a bus service that isn’t tailored to their needs. It’s likely I’m not alone in being sick and tired of staring down the road hoping for a glimpse of a bus that never comes.

However, CUMTD isn’t the only example of public transportation that provides questionable service. A 2016 article in Forbes argues there is a strong academic case for privatization of public transit, thereby lowering costs and saving money. One can look at the impact of privatization of railways in the U.K. to support this argument as well. Since railways became privatized in 1990, the amount of fares since has more than doubled.

But for now, you will find me standing by the bus stop in the rain, shaking my fist toward the sky.

Wilhelm is a junior in LAS.

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