UI students to vote on MTD fee increase

UI students to vote on MTD fee increase

University of Illinois students will decide next month whether they want to increase the fee to ride buses on campus.

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District gathered about 4,300 signatures last week to place a question on the ballot during spring elections next month.  The district needed 3,500 signatures to get it on the ballot.

The question asks students if they support an increase "to cover the costs associated with operations and the safe rides on campus program."
The fee is currently $50 a semester, and it would increase over a period of three years to $59 a semester.

MTD Assistant Managing Director Tom Costello said more funding is needed to cover increased fuel and labor costs and requests for additional services by students.

Costello said some students are remaining on campus during periods when school is not in session, like winter and spring breaks, and want bus service to continue. 

Students will vote on increasing the fee during the spring elections on March 6-7.  If the students approve the increase, it would take effect next fall.

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shurstrike wrote on February 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Ha!  When I was a student this student tax was first implemented.  It was $10/semester, and although I complained that it was merely a gateway tax, some people I knew said "It's only $10/semester".  Now I see that it was, in fact, the very gateway tax that I said it was.

Orbiter wrote on February 20, 2012 at 7:02 pm

The students can always vote it down.  But they won't--those campus routes are incredibly popular, and the busses are often standing-room only; occasionally they're completely full.  One might argue whether it's fair to use the compulsory "student fees" as a revenue stream, rather than a pay-as-you-ride structure, since a minority of students have to pay who don't use the service and don't want to pay for it.  But the value and benefits of the campus bus system for both riders and non-riders is hard to dispute.


This is rather different than using student fees to support a political agenda, which is not unusual either.

opinions1973 wrote on February 20, 2012 at 7:02 pm

These are the only buses that are ever full.  The rest of the time you see a bus in C-U it is practically empty!

Orbiter wrote on February 21, 2012 at 8:02 am

opinions1973, it is true that when you get toward the end-of-the-line, many busses have emptied out, but as a paying MDT rider for many years, I assure you that the busses do fill up as they approach the central parts of the city, and having bus transit really does help keep down congestion and road-construction costs for those of you who cannot ride, or who simply choose to drive.  MDT is doing a great job, and we're very lucky to have sucn a well-managed, clean, efficient system available to us.  When gasoline hits $5/gal later this year, many more will undoubtedly discover that MTD actually does go where they need to go, when they need to go there.

james33 wrote on February 20, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Is this some sort of JOKE? You are asking the students if they want to pay more to ride the bus, how about you ask them if they want to pay more for gasoline at the pump. Maybe the University should Ask them if they want to pay more for tuition and if they want to pay more for alcohol. Comon News-Gazette, see if you can get a vote in there for them to pay more for your news paper   Great question MTD, Great question!

fuddrules wrote on February 21, 2012 at 7:02 am

LOL - to you and me, yes it's a joke.

But to a student, if feels good and it's daddy's money.  They'll take feeling good (and daddy's money) everytime.


Orbiter wrote on February 21, 2012 at 8:02 am

No, fuddrules, not anymore. Daddies don't have the money.  Nowadays most Americans cannot afford college costs for their children and these young adults are taking out student loans to pay for it. Many of them will graduate with a diploma and a heavy debt load (as did a goodly number of us, back in the day, too).  And student loan debt is immune to bankruptcy, so it does follow you the rest of your life.  However, it is true that a good feeling often trumps future indebtedness, so I expect the fee increase will achieve the student vote to pass.

Orbiter wrote on February 21, 2012 at 8:02 am

james33, it's no joke. Obviously you are unaware of the many fees that students have voted upon themselves, such as for support of fitness centers, busses, recycling/composting, wind-energy, etc.  The students do this because they see a good reason for it.  And the News-Gazette might just be asking them (indirectly) to vote for a subsidy very soon, since the student-run Daily Illini is broke and owes the N-G a quarter million bucks for printing costs!