Smile Politely

CUMTD is a bright spot when it comes to utilities in C-U

Public transit is the least appealing mode of transportation for many people. Buses and trains can be inefficient, unreliable, or simply too crowded. The reality of public transit has only grown more undesirable over the last decade, as transit ridership has increased by more than 3 billion annual trips since 1995. Despite the bad rap received by most public transportation systems, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District has continually improved its service, including the multiple awards they have received for their outstanding work. Last week, CUMTD published the results of a telephone survey conducted between April 20-29. Unsurprisingly, their findings were overwhelmingly positive.

Among those contacted by Research Survey Service, Inc., the firm which carried out the telephone survey, 45% said they considered CUMTD’s image “excellent,” with an additional 45% of respondents rating CUMTD’s image as “good.” Evaluations of CUMTD’s service, rather than the transit district’s image, were 90% positive as well, receiving ratings of either “excellent” or “good.” 11% of respondents have complained to CUMTD, but 63% of those who have complained were satisfied with how the transit district handled their complaints. 

77% of those who use CUMTD ride the bus at least once a week. Among respondents who have lived in other communities with mass transit, 60% said CUMTD is better than the other service they’ve experienced.

Perhaps the most important finding, however, is that 93% of respondents said that CUMTD was readily available where they live. Across the country, 45% of Americans do not have access to public transportation. CUMTD has made their bus service remarkably accessible, with nearly two dozen routes covering Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy. CUMTD has also kept service affordable, despite budget cuts and increased demand. When CUMTD began operations in 1971, fare was 30 cents. Adjusted for inflation, the one-dollar fares of 2015 are actually cheaper than when CUMTD first started.

CUMTD’s environmental efforts are also admirable. You’ve probably noticed the growing number of hybrid buses added to service over the last six years. The transit district’s fleet is currently 54% hybrid, with plans to go fully hybrid in the future. In addition, a 296.94 kilowatt solar array is installed on the roof of CUMTD’s Maintenance Facility on University Avenue, the largest solar array in Champaign County. 55-watt solar panels have also been installed atop ten bus shelters in the community, which are used to power lighting fixtures inside the shelters.

The dedication to the needs of the community exhibited by CUMTD is worth applauding. In response to a student referendum calling for increased service to the southeast part of campus, CUMTD is adding a new bus line, the 21 Raven. Buses from the Pennsylvania Avenue and Florida Avenue residence halls are chronically over capacity, especially during the colder winter months. The addition of a new bus line will help alleviate the congestion, as well as reaffirm CUMTD’s commitment to the community. Who couldn’t get on board with that?

Read the CUMTD Telephone Survey report here.

(Picture of bus stop and hybrid bus courtesy of CUMTD)

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