MTD plans fee hike, line expansion

MTD plans fee hike, line expansion

CHAMPAIGN — Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District board members are looking at a proposed budget for the year beginning July 1 that includes a major service expansion in west Champaign, an increase in the cost of an annual pass and implementation of a trial, one-month pass.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 29 at the Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign. But the MTD board likely will not act on the spending plan until sometime in the summer.

The $34 million spending plan, up from this year's $31.7 million budget, assumes a 2 percent wage increase for MTD employees, a 10 percent increase in health insurance costs, a $310,000 increase in costs related to the federal Affordable Care Act and a 40-cent increase in diesel fuel costs.

The federal health care law will increase costs to the MTD through mandated coverage for approximately 60 employees who work between 30 and 40 hours a week but now get no health care coverage. They will come under the law on Jan. 1.

The biggest increased cost, though, would be year-round, expanded service on the high-frequency Greenhopper route that connects Champaign and Urbana and runs through the University of Illinois campus. The Greenhopper, with its 15-minute service, now runs only during the UI's main academic year and goes only as far as Prospect Avenue in Champaign.

Under the service expansion plan, the Greenhopper would run year-round, Mondays through Saturdays and evenings, and would operate as far west as the Country Fair area of Champaign. The expanded service would cost an estimated $460,000 to $470,000 a year.

At Country Fair, the Greenhopper would connect to several other MTD routes serving west Champaign, including a new unnamed route that will serve the Stephens Family YMCA, the Glenshire subdivision, Horizon Hobby, a proposed Champaign County Housing Authority development and the Windsor at the Crossing retail center.

The Greenhopper expansion still needs approval of the MTD board, although the service to the YMCA and other destinations has been approved.

Linda Bauer, an MTD board member from Urbana, endorsed the Greenhopper expansion at an MTD board meeting Wednesday.

"We have a great bus service, and I want it to be great not just (in the UI campus area)," she said. "There are costs involved, but if we can absorb them, I'm all for it. I like some of these recommendations for raising revenue, too. I think it's important that people who are working, people without cars, young people, they need good bus service, too, out in the outlying areas."

On the revenue side, the MTD budget assumes an increase in the cost of a yearly pass from $60 to $72, a one-year trial of a $15 monthly pass, a property tax levy increase next year of as much as 4.9 percent and an increase in advertising rates. The budget also assumes that, for the first time, MTD employees will contribute to the cost of their health care coverage at a rate of 2 percent of gross wages.

The biggest uncertainty on the revenue side is the level of state support, a figure that probably won't be known until early June, after the Legislature has approved next year's state budget. The state provides about two-thirds of the MTD's operating budget, but Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed a cut in operating assistance this year.

"Instead of a 10 percent increase from 2013, it is basically a 10 percent decrease and takes us back two years," said MTD Managing Director Bill Volk.

Also Wednesday, the MTD board learned that March ridership was up 8 percent from a year earlier to 1.16 million passengers and that preliminary totals for April are that the system carried its second-greatest monthly total ever. Final figures are not available, but the MTD's record monthly total is 1.39 million last October.

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ROB McCOLLEY wrote on May 02, 2013 at 7:05 am
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Sounds good.

 

I'd like to see the Greenhopper extend its run geographically, too. Green 50 now runs (after dark, 'til; about midnight) between Illinois Terminal and Lincoln Square. 

 

If MTD expanded service by a couple more hours, and ran it all the way between the Meijers (possibly out to Country Fair) a lot more drunk people could get home safely.

And a lot of third-shift workers could have  safe, inexpensive transportation to work.

 

 

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on May 02, 2013 at 8:05 am
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I don't recommend extending such a run to Walmart in Savoy, as those people obviously don't want the unwashed masses in their neighborhood.

But then again, that run could also be extended to Willard for the 6 a.m. flight. Air Bus currently doesn't run that early -- so only the people who pay top dollar for mid-morning flights can economize by riding the Air Bus.

787 wrote on May 02, 2013 at 8:05 am

Nice cheap shot about Savoy.  It tells a lot about you, Rob.

I

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on May 02, 2013 at 8:05 am
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Okay.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 02, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Gee... my comment about your political future got pulled, Rob.  Was Clark Kent involved?

C in Champaign wrote on May 02, 2013 at 1:05 pm

If the MTD thought they could get away with it, they would annex, tax, and crush potholes into the pavement of the outlying communities faster than you could bat an eye.

Nice Davis wrote on May 07, 2013 at 9:05 am

What makes potholes faster: 100 people riding in 5 buses or 100 people riding in 75 cars? Answer: it doesn't matter to someone who doesn't want to think critically about the value of transit!

Joe American wrote on May 02, 2013 at 3:05 pm

.....and the long-reaching tentacles of Obamacare screw us all again.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 02, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Joe; What does Obamacare have to do with the C-U MTD?

Joe American wrote on May 02, 2013 at 8:05 pm

EXACTLY the question that any furious citizen should wonder.

Paragraphs 3 & 4.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on May 07, 2013 at 7:05 am

This all follows, linearly and precisely, from water fluoridation. I warned you people back from the start about it, but you just laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed at me.

Who's cackling maniacally now?

Nice Davis wrote on May 07, 2013 at 9:05 am

Like the rest of us, Joe knows that the best way to reduce medical costs is a single payer system, not the PPACA that we had to settle for.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 07, 2013 at 12:05 pm

The fact remains that the number of workers who worked 30 to 40 hours per week for the MTD were without health insurance.  Why were they without it in the first place?  It has become standard to hire workers; work them 30 some hours; and pay no health insurance.  Temporary workers maybe full time workers except they receive no health care benefits.  The country is rapidly becoming a 32 hour instead of 40 hour work week to avoid paying benefits.  It seems okay to those who have health care benefits.  No one seems to notice that the working poor population has increased significantly.

WOW wrote on May 08, 2013 at 8:05 pm

"MTD plans fee hike, line expansion" - Duh. If you change it to "MTD plans fee hike, line expansion, and tax increases" then that would be MTD's prime directive. MTD is all about empire building. Their budget is larger than some small cities, and they thirst for more. Their thirst is unquenchable.

For the price of ONLY ONE of their new environmentally friendly busses, you could purchase 5,000 adult bicycles or 7,500 childrens bikes brand new, and none of them would require hundreds of thousands dollars more of fuel and maintenance to run. Bikes promote better fitness, better health, and are fun. Buses promote waiting, sitting, fees, and fat.

Danville is about to pay $3,000,000 just for bathrooms at their DMT main bus stop. $3 million is enough money to purchase a brand new bike for EVERY single resident of Danville.