MTD: It's wrong to blame bus driver who didn't stop for scholar

MTD: It's wrong to blame bus driver who didn't stop for scholar

URBANA — Why didn't the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District bus stop for Yingying Zhang?

That's a question that's been asked a lot in the wake of the disappearance of the missing Chinese scholar now presumed to be dead. It's been widely reported from the criminal complaint against her accused kidnapper, Brendt Christensen, that surveillance video showed her trying to flag down an MTD bus that didn't stop for her in some of the final minutes before a black Saturn Astra later linked to Christensen pulled over to where she was standing and she got inside.

MTD Managing Director Karl Gnadt on Wednesday defended the driver of the bus that passed by Ms. Zhang, saying the driver couldn't have stopped for her because she was across the street.

"We're the ones who provided the video to the police and the FBI," he said. "The bus driver did absolutely nothing wrong."

Gnadt also said Ms. Zhang didn't try to "flag down" the passing bus.

"She did start to raise her hand as the vehicle was passing her, but even if she had been waving her arms when she was a block away, the bus wouldn't have stopped for her because the bus was on the opposite side of the street," he said.

"We do not, cannot, will not stop for pedestrians on the wrong side of the street. That would only encourage them to run out into traffic to cross the street, and no transit system in the world would do that."

Gnadt said he has read some online comments about the MTD bus that didn't stop for Ms. Zhang, and some have been nasty.

"I think it's perfectly natural for people who want to find somebody to blame, and so rather than pointing the finger at the one person who is to blame in this, which is the person who abducted Yingying, they are desperately trying to find somebody else to point their finger at," he said. "And when you do that, you start stretching the bounds of reality and you become nasty when you do that. That's just my personal take."

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Nice Davis wrote on July 06, 2017 at 7:07 am

Anyone who's blaming the bus system for the kidnapping has a screw loose

illinirazorback wrote on July 06, 2017 at 8:07 am

Many will say his statements are insensitive.

Those people are wrong.  He's absolutely right.  It's a terrible tragedy that, so far, looks to be the work of one sick individual.  It's also normal for those who loved her to grieve and lash out.  But blaming those who really don't deserve it is also wrong.

I'm sure the bus driver feels terrible in hindsight.  I'm also sure her professor or her friends with other transportation means feel terrible because they could have driven her to sign her lease themselves.  Or that her friends that have been here longer didn't help her understand the bus schedules or routes better.  There are countless "what if" scenarios in a situation like this.  But ultimately its the fault of one person.

Hope he gets the needle.

CommonSenseless wrote on July 06, 2017 at 9:07 am

MTD Exec worried about someone getting run over...unless it's a tax payer being run over by the MTD board.

CallSaul wrote on July 06, 2017 at 9:07 am

We all knew it was just a matter of time before one of our pathetic lunatic local RWNJ trolls siezed on this tragedy to do what's really important in their pathetic sad stunted little reactionary lives: bash the MTD.

Utterly predictable but no less disgusting...

CommonSenseless wrote on July 06, 2017 at 10:07 am

We all knew it was just a matter of time before one of our pathetic, lunatic, local LWNJ trolls siezed on an opportunity to do what's really important in their pathetic, sad, stunted little reactionary "beta male" lives: Virtue Signal.

Utterly predictable but no less disgusting...


CallSaul wrote on July 06, 2017 at 10:07 am

...posted with your typical level of original thought and insight...

You just can't stop using others' words as your own, huh...?

And, just like some of your fellow overcompensating sooper dooper performatively 'macho' reactionary rightwingers on here, you do know that we all see your use of terms like 'beta male' as a screaming announcement that you have deep seated misgivings about your own masculinity, right...?


gagablogger wrote on July 06, 2017 at 10:07 am

You said it!  

Automan wrote on July 06, 2017 at 10:07 am
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Does RWNJ mean "Right Wing Nut Jobs"?

CallSaul wrote on July 06, 2017 at 10:07 am


Automan wrote on July 06, 2017 at 10:07 am
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Then LWNJ must mean "Left Wing Nut Jobs".

TheShadowKnows wrote on July 06, 2017 at 11:07 am

Why is it so difficult for some to understand that the MTD stopping/boarding rules are clearly righteous and that the driver did not have access to a crystal ball?

rsp wrote on July 06, 2017 at 11:07 am

I think there should be a "cheat sheet" in different languages for new students for when they hit town. Liitle things like if you want to transfer to a different bus the driver can call and have it wait for up to two minutes so you won't miss it. Sometimes if they are running late it doesn't help but if she had known and asked the first driver, the second bus could have waited.

Every day people try to get on from the middle of the street, across lanes, and other unsafe places. Drivers have to refuse to discourage this behaviour for passanger safety.

CallSaul wrote on July 06, 2017 at 11:07 am

I bet these or the beginnings of these exist in many of the specific international students associations.

Some kind of centralized and standardized version in a bunch of languages would be a good idea, though...

Khristine wrote on July 09, 2017 at 11:07 pm
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If you're attending a university in another country, you should be capable of speaking the language of that country fluently. I wouldn't go to attend a university in China and expect them to provide me with cultural information in English. The purpose of studying abroad is to live within and adapt to a culture different from your own. That is the experience. 

That being said, the U of I does need to find a way to better prepare students for a multitude of cultural differences when they come to America. 

pattsi wrote on July 06, 2017 at 3:07 pm

I apreciate the information of the "2 minute delay time" for a transfer, which I did not know about and bet many community citizens also do not know. I tried to find this infomation on the CUMTD web site. I could not easily do so. So I called MTD for help to find it. Here is where the information is housed within the MTD web site under "Transfer." The information is deeply buried. It might be useful to pull some of like kind items as bullet points under "Get to know or how to ride" the MTD as a first page on the web site and schedule book.

BruckJr wrote on July 06, 2017 at 5:07 pm

How many different languages would you print that cheat sheet in?  I would guess that there are literally hundreds of different first languages at the university.

CptJustice wrote on July 06, 2017 at 11:07 am
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It sometimes appears rude when MTD bus drivers blow past pedestrians flagging them down from undesignated bus stops, but the drivers are consistent and it's the responsiblity of pedestrians to be at bus stops for bus service. It's also understandable the grieving would lash out at whatever what ifs come to mind that would have prevented this tragedy. I agree with a previous poster that ultimate blame is on the accused. He is solely responsible for this outrage. 

CallSaul wrote on July 06, 2017 at 11:07 am

No question. They're also moving or have moved to stopping only at designated bus stops, which also will improve safety and operation.

RSP's comment about publishing a sort of quick guide in a lot of languages explaining these kinds of things is a good idea... wrote on July 06, 2017 at 12:07 pm

or learn english

CallSaul wrote on July 06, 2017 at 12:07 pm

What a surprise.

Another hateful RWNJ looks at this tragedy and sees an opportunity to ride yet another rightwing reactionary hobbyhorse into the ground...

champaign61821 wrote on July 06, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Now hold on a second...the suggestion to learn english isn't a bad one in this case. For their own safety, a firm grasp of the spoken and written english language would benefit any non-native speakers and international students. 

How about we all have a civil and logical discussion without resorting to almost instant name-calling. I assume most of you are intelligent people in real life, but as soon as you get behind a keyboard and an anonymous user name, all the logic and decorum go right out the window.

CallSaul wrote on July 06, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Learning and improving their ability to speak English is certainly good for a variety of reasons. But that doesn't obviate the usefullness of the potential guide under discussion.

Perhaps you're not familiar with this commenter's history or that of the other NG rightwing trolls. See the response below to Sid's comment for a typical example of the decorum and level of civility they show others.

And this commenter was not suggesting they improve their English in a good faith example of civil discussion. As his previous, and subsequent, comments show, he was using it as a way to bash native speakers of other languages and it seems, to pick a fight with me. 

I'm all for civil discussion and logical debate. But the NG rightwing trolls most definitely are not...

BruckJr wrote on July 06, 2017 at 4:07 pm

When I taught at the university all international students were required to show proficiency in English (via a TOEFL score) in order to be admitted.  Is that no longer the case?  I also found that oftentimes their English skills were superior to those of many native born students, in particular those from Chicago.

itazurakko wrote on July 06, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Students certainly are required to have a level of proficiency in English.

However, students don't necessarily come to Champaign-Urbana on their own. Many students, visiting scholars, and international faculty and staff come here with their families.  Those family members often don't speak English when they arrive, but they will still use city services, including both MTD and the DMV as well as the local schools.  

Americans live as expats all over the world as well, and usually in cities that host a lot of them, there are similarly helpful English-language guides to city services to help them out, particularly family members who don't have a good grasp of the local language.


Toxaz wrote on July 06, 2017 at 8:07 pm

One of the best comments I have seen on the Internet...Please forward that to all of Reddit.

champaign61821 wrote on July 07, 2017 at 8:07 am

Hah, thanks. I don't think Reddit would listen. Their are way too many young, reactionary redditors that crave attention.

rsp wrote on July 06, 2017 at 4:07 pm

If you went to a foreign country would you know how everything works the day you arrived? A different town? By the way that's called magical thinking. People don't become fluent in another language overnight, it takes years of study. I know someone who has lived here for over ten years who speaks five languages. She is smarter than you but she's still uncomfortable speaking English because she's not fluent.

Yingying was barely here.

annabellissimo wrote on July 10, 2017 at 3:07 pm

I think we can be quite certain that Ms. Zhang spoke English very well. She is always described as a scholar, a graduate student, a researcher at an American university. Do you imagine that she did this without serious facility with English? Her boyfriend who has been interviewed on television speaks English very well - probably much better than any of us here speaks Chinese and certainly better than many native-born Americans speak English! Obviously foreign students must know how to speak English, but they also need some "immersion" training into basic survival skills - like a much higher level of vigilance and wariness and skepticism about anybody they encounter. A friendly demeanor that is the stereotype of the American persona does not necessarily reflect a good heart and a decent character. A friendly demeanor does not necessarily equate to goodness. Skepticism and wariness can help people protect themselves on the dangerous streets of the U.S. wrote on July 06, 2017 at 1:07 pm

I thought that command of the english language would be required to get a PHD at the U of I.  Its not?  How then or in what language will she write her thesis?


I am not under any circumstances blaming the victim.  It was the fellow  U of I student who is to blame.  I am point out that when money is tight, why are we about to spend thousands of dollars on a cheat sheet for those U of I students from a foreign land who apparently do not speak english.  I am just curious how one gets a degree when English is not mastered.


Explain that to me Saulie boy


Speaking of which.


You sure have been quiet about the recent spate of home invasion arrests......... gonna blame that on Trump too?


Good letter to the editor today about bruno and his anti cameras in public area stance.  Your thoughts?

CallSaul wrote on July 06, 2017 at 2:07 pm

University students are not the only MTD riders.

I'd've thought that would be something you could have grasped on your own.

And besides, having a quick guide in their native language can be very helpful even to native speakers of other languages who are adept in English when trying to sort things out on the fly...

And providing such a guide can be done easily and cheaply. It would be well worth the very minor cost.

But don't try to pretend your objection has only to do with the supposed unbearable cost of a multi language guide. It just make you look silly and milquetoast...

As Sid said, you beg me to comment on stories I'm not interested in commenting on and then you shriek and schreech to no end when I do comment on stories I am interested in commenting on.

Such a tortured and tormented soul...

rsp wrote on July 06, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Who says such a guide has to focus on the MTD? And who says it would cost thousands of dollars? It could be emailed to them and available online. Include safety information, where to go for things, what people wished they knew when they came. Get it sponsered by a few places. Keep it simple and focused on safety. If it's too cluttered it won't get used.

Instead of focusing on yourself and your wallet how about focusing on a problem and simple solutions that won't cost anything but could save a life.

Sid Saltfork wrote on July 06, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Interesting that a few regular commenters choose to provoke another commenter to respond, and they later want the newspaper to censor him.  They even ask his opinion on other topics to get a response so they can rant against him.  Well, it is the time we live in where people are libs. dems, repugs, nazis, and racists according to someone else's definition.

Opinions are like noses.  Everyone has one.

Illiniwek222 wrote on July 06, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Time for your nap, Sidd.

Sid Saltfork wrote on July 07, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Seems that your opinion is a gaping talking hole.  Your talking out of your nose. wrote on July 06, 2017 at 4:07 pm

We have not met, so you have no clue as to how smart or dumb I am.   Mrs. Trump speaks 6 languages but the anti president types decry how stupid she is, so speaking more than one language does not make you either smart or dumb.  But you ignore my basic premsis.  Does someone who is a grad student at the U of I  have to be able to communicate in English.  My son had a Asian graduate student who was his spanish TA and he could barely understand her English.   You talk to many undergraduates at the U of I whom have foreign students as TA and they simply cannot speak the language.................So............ does command of the English language........................ requirement to admittance at the U of I...... yes or no.

itazurakko wrote on July 06, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Graduate students at the U have to pass a test of spoken English before they're allowed to be teaching assistants.

Graduate students who don't pass it can have research assistantships or other office work type jobs.


rsp wrote on July 06, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Multiple people have posted that they have to pass a test for spoken English. That doesn't make one fluent or know how to get around the area in only a few weeks.

Nice Davis wrote on July 07, 2017 at 12:07 am

I can barely understand what you're saying between all the errors in spelling, grammar, and syntax. Perhaps you should work on your mastery of the English language before weighing in on this topic?

champaign61821 wrote on July 07, 2017 at 9:07 am

Yes! You win the comment of the day.

cassels1 wrote on July 10, 2017 at 2:07 pm

It is entirely possible that the MTD driver did not see Ms. Zhang in the first place, especially since she was across the street. There are often plenty of distractions both inside and outside the buses, and the driver's attention could have been elsewhere.

annabellissimo wrote on July 10, 2017 at 2:07 pm

The most important reason for this article is the issue of the bus stopping, MTD (and other bus lines) policies, safety and responsibility. To any of the commenters who assert that MTD has no responsibility or role whatsoever vis a vis Ms. Zhang's apparent intention to ride an MTD bus to her appointment in the extremely sad and disturbing crime committed against her (and a civilized society), those commenters are obviously correct: MTD has no role or responsibility in this horrific event. It is absurd to criticize the bus driver or MTD, absolutely irrational and cruel. All sane, decent people are horrified by this crime, but looking for someone unrelated to it to blame is crazy. I hope the bus driver is not blaming him/herself in any way.

The second reason for my comment is to say that I have now read the article about Minneci's Restaurant moving out of their present location with future plans uncertain and this article about Ms Zhang's apparent intention to ride an MTD bus. The comments following both unrelated articles have been hijacked by a few (perhaps just one or two masquerading as multiples, don't know) who are maliciously engaging in a destructive back and forth having nothing to do with either subject. The News Gazette announced last year that they were considering doing away with the open comments and these mindless, inane, pointless, endless comments between/among the same screen named "commenters" will surely hasten that decision and that will be very unfortunate for all those who actually like to discuss local news and events with fellow citizens. The News Gazette might want to consider blocking those hijackers because they have taken over the comments - and without any point to their malicious mischief whatsoever.