Bus service to Y will begin in January

Bus service to Y will begin in January

CHAMPAIGN — Direct bus service to the Stephens Family YMCA of Champaign County probably will begin in January, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District board decided Wednesday.

The unanimous vote follows a decision two weeks ago by the Champaign Southwest Mass Transit District to begin the process of dissolving. The directors of the smaller MTD, which was formed by referendum in 2006 but has never provided bus service, have invited other possible C-U MTD opponents to form another mass transit district. But if no on takes up the task, the CSWMTD board members say they will ask the Champaign County Board to dissolve their district.

The YMCA is located within the boundaries of the smaller MTD, and the larger MTD passed a resolution last spring stating that it would not provide service into territory outside its boundaries "that is part of another mass transit district."

Wednesday's vote by the MTD board was greeted with gratitude by the director of the YMCA and at least one local advocate for the disabled.

"Personally it helps my son which helps me," said Linda Tortorelli of Champaign. "My son is 23 years old. He's a person with a developmental disability. He can't drive and he uses the MTD to get around town and to his job and to do recreational things. So if I'm not home, he isn't able to get to the Y. So this will be a great opportunity for him to be more independent in getting to a place he likes to recreate at."

Patrick Tortorelli "would go there several times a week if he could, definitely more than he's able to go now because I'm not available during the day to take him there," said his mother, who is director of the autism program at the University of Illinois, and president of the board of Community Services, a support group for families with adult children with disabilities.

"From that work I've heard from lots of people who have expressed frustration about not being able to get to the Y, and they absolutely depend on the bus for their whole life," she said. "I have no idea how many people in the disability community this will impact, but there are a lot. There has been a lot of conversation about this."

Mark Johnson, CEO of the YMCA, said "the number one complaint and comment is about the bus situation, so I would assume that we're going to have tremendous ridership from this. I think it will increase our membership and the members who are already there will make significant use of it too."

Johnson came to the MTD board meeting to appeal for the service.

"Whatever we need to do, the YMCA is ready to sign up and go and have you guys come out and serve us," he told the board. "We're excited to have this possibility in front of us."

The extent of the service to the YMCA hasn't been determined, said MTD director Bill Volk, but it likely will begin in January and will be an extension of the MTD's West Direct van service from the Country Fair Shopping Center.

Johnson said peak demand hours at the YMCA are between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., with the greatest demand between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

In green-lighting the service to the YMCA, the MTD board voted to waive its prohibition against providing service within the territory of another mass transit district because of "very special circumstances," sad MTD board member Don Uchtmann.

"The needs are pressing and now, and not just (expected) a year from now," he said. "This is a unique situation."

Also Wednesday, the MTD board voted 4-3 for a $6.7 million property tax levy for taxes payable in 2013. The levy is about 3 percent more than the current year. Those voting for the increase were board members Ron Peters, Willard Broom, Margaret Chaplan and Uchtmann. Voting no were Linda Bauer, Brad Diel and Jermaine Raymer.

Bauer said that "this year we can probably do without the increase," while Broom said "we have increasing demand for our service and we can't do that at no cost."

Diel, a recent Democrat candidate for the county board, said he met with a lot of voters recently "and no one commented that that really seemed like a good idea."

But Uchtmann noted that "every dollar of local revenue that we raise to support this system is matched several-fold by a state operating grant that covers the bulk of the cost of the system."

Volk also told the board that the MTD has filed a preliminary application for $6 million in state capital funding to help finance a $15 million project to demolish its old bus garage at 801 E. University Ave., U, and build an addition to its newer facility at 803 E. University Ave. The soonest the project could begin construction "on an aggressive program," he said, would be the spring of 2014.


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Mark Taylor wrote on December 05, 2012 at 10:12 pm

It sure was nice of the SWMTD members to invite other groups to oppose bus service in this area now that they've decided to stop fighting the MTD.

rsp wrote on December 05, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I thought it was a lovely letter with lots of information about how they could keep from being taxed by two bus systems. 

Mark Taylor wrote on December 06, 2012 at 11:12 pm

BTW, I only didn't respond to this earlier because there was nothing for me to disagree, uh, I mean, agree with...

rsp wrote on December 07, 2012 at 8:12 am

I'll be more careful in the future.

Joe American wrote on December 06, 2012 at 9:12 am

In Marc's lit......err, I mean Mark's little utopia, everyone would live their lives as Mark would have them live.  But until his utopia comes to fruition, those who chose to live where they did in part because they didn't have busses passing through their neighborhoods will continue opposing them.  Suck it up and get over it, bro.

Mark Taylor wrote on December 06, 2012 at 10:12 am

I'm sure it's VERY VERY FUNNY, but your brilliant c/k joke eludes me -- just what the heck are you trying to say there, Buster Brown?

But, anyway, you're right. The SWMTD should have the LIBERTY to exclude other people from riding the bus to the Y!!!!!!!1!

It's what FREEDON IS ALL ABOUT and it's their GOD GIVEN RIGHT as REAL AMERICANS to keep keep other people off the public streets in their neighborhood!!!!!!!!!!1!

TEA PARTY!!!!!! WOOOO HOOOO!!!!!!!!1!

Vote Tea Party GOP -- we'll help you keep them out of your neighborhood!!!!!1!

Joe American wrote on December 06, 2012 at 12:12 pm

And again, in Marc's little fantasyland, don't bother exercising your opinions and your legal options.  Stick to your Occupy encampment, Mr. Taylor.

Marc's Fantasyland - nice place to visit, but wouldn't want to live there.


Sid Saltfork wrote on December 06, 2012 at 12:12 pm

My concern is the $6 Million of state funding for the MTD's new bus barn.  Is a new bus barn a need, or a want?  Remember; the State of Illinois is supposed to be broke.  Why doesn't the MTD finance the project themselves rather than request others money? 

Joe American wrote on December 06, 2012 at 1:12 pm

That's a good question.  I'd like to know why their current facilities can't (as opposed to "don't") meet their needs.

rsp wrote on December 06, 2012 at 3:12 pm

It's too small. They've grown over the years and they can't do what they need to do there. The new building will be more energy efficient though. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 06, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Let the people who use the MTD pay for it.  State money is from all of the state.  The state is supposedly broke.  Cuts were made to services for the Disabled, the elderly, and education of the young.  If the MTD wants to expand, and build new facilities; the municipalities it covers can help out along with the people who use the MTD.  This is just another example of wants versus needs like the features for Urbana's swimming pool, and Champaign's new recreational building.  State, and federal monies are short.  The monies should be used for needs, not wants.

I agree with you on most things rsp; but this is not one of them. 

Mark Taylor wrote on December 06, 2012 at 6:12 pm

That's right, Sidney!!!!! It doesn't matter that it'll save money in the long run -- a penny saved today is better than a dollar saved by the end of the week. IT MAKES PERFECT ECONOMICAL SENSE!!!!!!!!!1!

Also, ya, let the people who need to use the MTD pay for it themselves instead of mooching off the rest of us, right Sidney??????2?

By the same token, people in Vermillian County need to stop mooching off the rest of us and return all that state and federal money for all the roads the REAL AMERICANS who don't depend on the MTD use, right Sidney??????22?

True colors.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 06, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Mark;  If it is a necessity, it needs to be done.  If it is not a necessity, it does not need to be done with state monies.  It was only a couple of years ago that some people were wanting state monies to pay for a hiking trail between Urbana, and Danville.  This was at the same time the state parks were in disrepair, and closing.  The cuts for assistance to the elderly to remain in their homes is another example of foolish cuts for state monies to be used on non-necessary things.  The cost of assistance to the elderly in their homes is much, much less than the cost of Medicaid to have the elderly in nursing homes.  Politicians will take money from some to give to others if it awards them with campaign donations, and votes.  If the MTD truely needs a new facility, it should be shown as a necessity rather than a want.  Multiply all of the state's municipalities by the number of each municipalities wants in terms of state money.  The time has come for serious evaluation of wants versus needs.  The MTD should itemize each of the expenditures needed, and explain why the expenditures are needed.  There is only so much money.

Mark Taylor wrote on December 06, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Yes, you're right. It's much better to think of state budget issues solely as zero sum prospects and to compartmentalize people into necessarily competing and distinct constituencies.

And yes, of course, the MTD serves no seniors so it has nothing to do with helping them. Further, making sure the system is adequately funded and has adequate facilities is nothing like the rest of the state and the feds funding the vast majority of the cost of the roads in Vermillion, or any other, county.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 06, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Your choice of the word "adequate" is appreciated.  Is $9 million of MTD funds "adequate" for the facility?  Is the other $6 million of state monies necessary?  The proposed expenditures should be examined in regard to what is adequate, and necessary without what is wanted. 

Sadly; the state budget does "compartmentalize people into necessarily competing and distinct constituencies" based on legislative districts, and special interest groups.  Gambling expansion may trump prison overcrowding.  Services to the Poor may lose out to corporate tax breaks.  

Comparing what one county receives, and another does not receive still does not solve the problem of only so much state money available.  Imagine the complaints from downstate residents regarding the money Cook County receives. 

rsp wrote on December 06, 2012 at 10:12 pm

The State Dept. of Trans. has money set aside for projects like this. It isn't want, it is need. 

In addition to an inadequate size, Volk said, the garage would have to be remodeled to handle the taller hybrid buses that the MTD now operates. Eventually all of the agency's fleet will be hybrid buses.

"We would have to do serious renovation, and it really doesn't lend itself to that," he said.

As they replace buses they move to more energy efficient ones. They are being proactive.

They also are one of the biggest providers of service to the disabled and to seniors in the community.

The schools also contract with the MTD because it's cheaper to transport the older kids that way. They partner with the UI so there is less traffic on campus.

We both know the state isn't broke. They are still giving out perks to their friends. This isn't a perk. It's infrastructure.

Mark Taylor wrote on December 06, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Oh, sure. Go ahead and cheat and bring facts and reality and evidence into the discussion. Shameful!

standupforwhatyoubelievein wrote on December 06, 2012 at 6:12 pm

What is not being addressed are some facts.  When the YMCA decided to move, they were perfectly aware that MTD did not provide bus service to the proposed site.  The YMCA opted to green light the expansion regardless and now they are back pedaling.  This is not only about those with disabilities. The fact still remains they chose to go this route.  This is not only political, but disgusting.  It's time for people to ask hard questions.  If the YMCA is concerned about those with disabilites using their facilities why can't THEY provide bus service for them?  Why should OUR tax dollars support THEIR decisions?  Also, why are they only focused on those with disabilities?  What about those who are on fixed incomes? MTD should tell them NO.  The YMCA was perfectly aware of their targeted demographic when they opted to move their facility.  They got exactly what they wanted and now they want the state and our community to support them when THEY turned their back on us. Stop pimping the disabled, and start accepting responsibility for your actions. 

Mark Taylor wrote on December 06, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I know, right???2? I'm so sick of those mooching moochers mooching all the time like the mooching moocherandos they so moochingly are.

Dang moochers.

Joe American wrote on December 06, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Yeah, stand up, what are you thinking??

Just because Marc and his Occupy hoard locate their camp outside of the MTD routes, how do you expect them - whose parents pay taxes, after all - to get to and from their demonstration sites?  How uninclusive of you.

bueek wrote on December 06, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Wow.  Just wow.  We vs. They.  Us vs. Them.  Ours vs. Yours.  Blerg.

It's a free country, so of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  It's just clearly obvious that these opinions A) don't represent all, and B) they are clearly not anyone who has any amount of empathy, or perhaps(?) even personal experience in these areas.

Whatever the reason they chose the site they did, it's a fabulous facility that provides a LOT of MUCH-NEEDED opportunities and services for ALL in our community.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to  understand the value that such an organization, and such a facility contributes to our community.  But apparently I'm mistaken.

I'm not a fan of MY tax dollars aiding any endeavors that might benefit some of the authors of the vicious, uneducated comments that appear on this site anymore than you want your tax dollars to pay for MTD service to the Y.  I'm also fully aware that nothing I say will sway any sentiment, and I imagine there will just be more vitriol that follows.  That's fine. 

I say hooray to those that have fought so hard to make this happen, and I, as a proud Y member, look forward to seeing more of our ever so beautiful and diverse community walking through those doors.

rsp wrote on December 06, 2012 at 10:12 pm

The Y was located "there" because the land "there" was donated to the Y. After receiving the donation of a very valuable piece of property they had the option of selling it and getting a piece of land closer to town. Or they could build there. They chose to build there. 

The McKinley YMCA had a mission that seems to be different than the Smith Family Y. In previous postings some have posted that it now serves the "county" and by being out there they can access it. And some of the groups who were asked to fundraise for the Y had their programs dropped as soon as it opened. 


dd1961 wrote on December 07, 2012 at 6:12 am

rsp, the land was never "theirs" to sell.  The land was donated to Carle with the stipulation that Carle must give part of it to the YMCA or Carle could not have any of it.  The YMCA  could not sell this land.  The only land they had to sell was the small plot in downtown, which was landlocked, lacked parking, and was falling down. The plus of that land was it was on the bus routes, close to a demographic who felt it was their neighborhood Y, not the county's Y.  The YMCA is funded in part by donations, and other part membership fees.  They were actually very frugal in how they built this building, watching every dime.  If the donation had not happened, then I think there would have been no more Y.  It would have closed its doors.

Now 9000 people instead of 2000 (with people leaving dailyt) are enjoying the YMCA.  Since I am there often I can vouch that those 9000 member are not just the "rich" people in southwest Champaign, but people from all over the county like me, who drive into town before work to get my work out in.  Yes, I am from Mahomet, which of course you all think is the evil bed of rich white folks, but I actually live in the not rich part of Mahomet that has property values that are less than the property values that exist on Hill Street around the old Y. I appreciate that I have a facility to work out in, to do voluteer work in, that offers my kids a place of employeement, and that are doing a great job serving Champaign COUNTY.

The MTD will not just serve the Y out there, although I am absolutely thrilled they are as I know several people who have been waiting for this before joining.  There are other people living out there that use the busses.  I can understand not liking the "urban sprall" but the fact of the matter is, there are people out there that need the bus.  The facility is a great example of building for all people, and there are many who know this because they are able to get out there.  Let's get the rest of the people out there.

As far as the bus barn, I actually agree with Sid this morning.  Government needs to look at wants over needs, and that is not something that government is doing.  Yes, we need things like roads, schools and such, but we do need to look at things that extra and question them. Money is finite.

rsp wrote on December 07, 2012 at 8:12 am

It's kind of silly to suggest that without that property they would have closed their doors. 

The new buses do not fit into the bus garage. It is more expensive to remodel the old garage. 

dd1961 wrote on December 07, 2012 at 10:12 am

Incorrect.  It was getting to the point where they were not going to survive.  The old building was costing more and more to upkeep.  Membership was frustrated and leaving.  They would not have survived and everyone who was very much involved in the operations knew it.  They either had to do something major where it existed, or build elsewhere.  Cost wise, it did not make sense to build in an area that was landlocked, with no room for expansion in parking, especially since they were gifted such a large parcel of land.  Perhaps you should refrain in making statements that are blatantly untrue because you clearly were not part of the operations of the place.

Mark Taylor wrote on December 07, 2012 at 10:12 am

Excellent defense of the new bus barn!!!!!!!1!

But are you sure you're authorized to talk about the MTD facilities? Are you part of the operation of the place?

dd1961 wrote on December 07, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I was talking about the YMCA facility Mark.  I am with Sid on the barn issue....

rsp wrote on December 07, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Their options were not just Church St. or the current location. 

dd1961 wrote on December 07, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I am aware of that.

Mark Taylor wrote on December 07, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Oh, that's weird. It sure sounded like a defense of the need for a new facility for the MTD...

So, then, just as RSP is apparently not authorized to talk about the Y, are you saying you're not authorized to talk about the MTD building?

dd1961 wrote on December 07, 2012 at 6:12 pm

rsp can talk about the Y.  It is a free world.  However, he made some statements, such as the Y could have sold the land they built on and bought something in an area that apparently would have made some people happier.  That statement is simply not true.  The land was not the YMCA's to sell.  That was a stipulation of the donation.  rsp is correct that more than the site they built on was looked at including keeping it downtown.  Studies were done and the most cost effective place that could build the type of facility desired was determined to be  where they built it.  I am sure the donation of land certainly was a huge factor.  It is there now.  It is serving the community.  My observation is that it is not inclusive, that all demographics are represented there.  That is totally unscientific, no poll done, just what I see. 

As far as the MTD.  Nope, I do not know that much about it.  I used to be an extensive user of it in my college days.  A bus pass was one of my most valuable assets.  I lived on Kirby, and worked in downtown Champaign.  This meant to get to downtown Champaign, I had to spend more than an hour on the bus, because all routes went to campus first. So I do get what rsp is saying about having to spend 2 hours on the bus to get to the Y.  It was not the most convenient thing to do, but I read a book, sometimes took a nap, whatever to pass the time.   

This article is about getting bus service to the Y.  Something that has been a big problem.  It sounds like that is going to happen.  The bus barn thing was a blurb at the end, and some people are disturbed that in these tough times the state can spend that much money on a bus barn.  I agree with that sentiment.  I think government should be more careful on their spending.  It is my opinion, and so far America is still free, so you are free to disagree, which I am certain you will.  :)



rsp wrote on December 07, 2012 at 12:12 pm

That would be the Stephens Family Y. I wonder why nobody noticed?

standupforwhatyoubelievein wrote on December 06, 2012 at 9:12 pm

While never questioning intellect, the questions still remain.  Didn’t you cite empathy? Yes.  While you are being “empathetic” and “proud”, please realize that your new YMCA does NOT represent our diverse community.  It only represents those fortunate enough to patronize it, which is the reason we are having this debate.  Or has that failed to grab your attention?

dd1961 wrote on December 07, 2012 at 6:12 am

Have you been in the new YMCA to see who is using it?

rsp wrote on December 07, 2012 at 10:12 am

I sometimes wonder if my autistic grandson could benefit from some of the programs out there. He's four years old. When the bus services start going out there I still won't take him. I keep hearing words thrown around about "inclusive" and how now everyone in the county can use the y, because apparently before there was an invisible ban. Oh, and the hardships of finding a parking spot. Life is so hard!

It could require a two hour bus trip to get my grandson to the Y by the time we have transfers. Then another two hours to get home. I said he was four, right? This is what the Y likes to advertise.


What is Universal Design?

“Universal Design” refers to a design philosophy focused on ease of use and open access for everyone, regardless of physical ability or developmental level. The idea behind universal design is that everything we interact with, from individual products to any built environment (buildings, parks, homes) should provide the same level of usability for all people. Beyond merely attaching access ramps, support bars, lifts or other “work around” solutions to existing designs or structures, universal design seeks to enhance the experience of every person by completely rethinking design with all potential users in mind. This focus on equality and usability is a reflection of our fundamental commitment to provide an environment that supports and serves every member of our community, and foster an attitude acceptance, growth and inspiration.

dd1961 wrote on December 07, 2012 at 10:12 am

Where do you take your grandson for programs now.  Are there direct routes there?  If so, wonderful.  The people from Tolono with children with disabilities now have a place that their child can go and it is close.  It is not closer to the people from St Joe or Philo or Rantoul.  It is about the same for Mahomet.  Each location they looked at, which one was clear out on the east side of Urbana, was closer to some and farther from others.  The old building was not meeting the needs and people knew it and were going elsewhere.  Now people are coming back.  You can believe what they say about the inclusivness if you want, but I am there using the facility and it is not true.

  If anything, the increase in membership that the new building has brought has brought in more money for more scholarships to serve the disadvantaged.  Before the new building, the money they had was not even meeting 6 months worth of the people in need.  They were losing members right and left, which made the situation even worse.  It takes money to serve the people who need scholarships and the expanded membership has certainly helped that.

mstrom wrote on December 09, 2012 at 8:12 pm
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The new YMCA is a wonderful facility.  It is a true asset to our community and will be for many years to come.  I am glad that bus service will be available.  There are many people that for what ever reason: poor, disabled, young, old, or just don't like to drive etc. that rely on the bus system to get them places.  This is the right thing to do.

EL YATIRI wrote on December 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm
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I wholeheartedly agree.  Bicycling to the Y was a nightmare with irate motorists cursing and intimidating as one crossed the bridge over I-57.