Commitment of MTD needs recognition

The number of passengers on the bus is overwhelming.

There often is a mass exodus of students itching to get off the bus before they go about their separate ways. Some students — looking to just get a seat — don’t wait for those getting off. Instead, they rush to beat everyone else for a prime seat (sitting is a privilege in and of itself) creating a traffic jam and inevitably a longer boarding process.

If you think the patience of some riders wears thin now, wait until the winter when presumably the ridership will reach record highs across campus.

But this isn’t a finger that can be pointed at Champaign-Urbana MTD, although it often is.

Much of MTD’s initiatives within the community, including its various services in and around campus, often go underappreciated.

For example, here on campus, MTD tailors its services specifically around students’ needs. Students can hop onto on-campus buses without showing their i-cards, such as the 22 Illini which makes regular stops around campus all the way through the wee hours of the morning.

MTD is also responsible for programs, such as SafeRides, which exist in part from the student fees we pay each semester. The situation is arguably the same with the 280 tranSPORT, which takes students to Illini football games played at Memorial Stadium.

In the Champaign-Urbana community, MTD has taken initiative in becoming more environmentally friendly. Last month, MTD become the sixth transit provider in the country — and first in the state — to achieve certification by the Environmental Sustainability and Management System. The company has also been pushing its own biking agenda — installing bike parking spots around Illinois Terminal and promoting awareness. A bike-sharing program is in the works for the near future, in which the MTD is exploring the possibilities of co-sponsoring with the University.

But accommodations also come with a price: Students pay $56 per semester in transportation fees, which also includes SafeRides. By comparison, community members may purchase an annual pass for $72.

We understand that not everyone may use MTD’s services — but as student enrollment increases, MTD is potentially serving more and more riders, meaning that there is a decent chance the 22 Illini is standing-room only at 1 p.m. as it treks its way through Gregory Drive.

There’s a balance that needs to be achieved, though. Consider adding another campus-specific route to help alleviate traffic, but then the costs add up quickly — especially if the route runs for 15 consecutive hours. These extra dollars could be displaced onto students in the form of slight student fee increases.

But on the other hand, MTD has been consistently striving to keep the fees down — and asking for no more than it needs. They even incorporate feedback in the forms of student input and town hall meetings to improve their services and accommodate accordingly to the community’s wants and needs.

MTD has clearly shown its commitment to the students here — through initiatives that benefit the University in part and the Champaign-Urbana community as a whole — just look around. It’s time we realize that.