New Y, Windsor West won't get bus service
CHAMPAIGN — The new Champaign County YMCA and the Windsor West apartment complex in southwest Champaign will not get service from the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District — not until the Champaign Southwest Mass Transit District goes out of business.
That was the gist of a resolution adopted unanimously and with little discussion by the C-U MTD board Wednesday.
The YMCA and the 316-unit apartment complex had asked the smaller MTD in April for more service. The problem is, the Southwest MTD has never provided transit service in its six-year history and because of its meager budget it could never afford to.
In fact, members of the Champaign Southwest MTD board have suggested that the larger MTD should serve the YMCA and the apartment complex, even though both are within the boundaries of the smaller MTD but outside of the larger MTD.
"If they feel strongly about that then they should just go out of business and we'll have no problem at all in serving that area," MTD board Chairman Ron Peters responded Wednesday.
But Edward Vaughan, the chairman of the Champaign Southwest MTD board, said the C-U MTD can fix the problem by providing more service to the intersection of Windsor Road and Fields South Court, which is a few hundred yards north of the YMCA and the apartment complex.
"That is clearly in their territory. The C-U MTD is collecting over $400,000 from people who are joint residents, who live west of Interstate 57," Vaughan said. "They're not really providing transportation to those people. And they're not providing transportation for the people that live in the massive area of the C-U MTD east of I-57 to that corner of their district that is near the YMCA."
If the standoff between the two transit districts is going to be resolved, Peters said, it will require prodding from the approximately 2,000 homeowners who live in both transit districts and pay taxes to both.
"It will have to come from out there, after all that area is paying two sets of taxes and tax bill time is around. They see those two transit districts on their tax bill," Peters said. "People are saying, 'What are they doing?' But that's up to the people who live there."
The four-paragraph resolution approved Wednesday says that the larger MTD "will not further extend mass transit service into territory outside its boundaries that is already part of another mass transit district."
The reason, Peters said, is that "it would certainly be confusing in the future in terms of having two transit districts in that area, in terms of future growth. We just feel that we don't want to participate in that kind of thing that would just add to that confusion."
Peters said that "frankly we hope that they can be out of business not too far into the future."
At least two of the five Champaign Southwest MTD board members recently have suggested that the smaller MTD — formed to block expansion of the larger and heavier-taxing MTD — should be dissolved. More discussion on that item likely will come up at the next Champaign Southwest MTD meeting June 19.
Meanwhile, C-U MTD director Bill Volk said his agency would continue to provide special service, by contract, to the apartment complex.
"We already are serving the apartment complex, but we're not going to do any more," he said. "The apartment complex will remain in place if they pay for the contract that we currently have."
He said he has not had discussions with the apartment complex owners about extending the contract. It expires later this year.
In other business Wednesday the C-U MTD board:
— Approved applying for grants to purchase two 40-foot hybrid buses at a cost of $603,400 each. Federal funds will provide 83 percent of the cost, with the rest coming from the state. Once the buses are in service in about a year, Volk said, the MTD will retire its 1996-vintage buses. None of the MTD's buses then will be more than 12 years old, he said, and the MTD fleet will average "six or seven years," the newest it has been since the 1970s.
— Set a public hearing for 4 p.m. June 6 at the Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign on the bus system's $38.7 million operating budget. The budget is up about $3 million from the current year, with $1.6 million the result of increased debt service, Volk said. The debt service covers spending on capital items such as buses, bus shelters and kiosks and technological equipment. Most of the rest of the increase is the result of higher insurance costs and pay raises for employees. Revenue to cover the higher costs will come mostly from the state — which covers 65 percent of all MTD operating costs — and a new contract with the University of Illinois that provides $52 per semester per student, up from $50.
— Learned that April ridership was up 3 percent and that year-to-date ridership is 4.9 percent above the previous year's.