Champaign — Trolley Temporarily Derailed
Rail Transit Online, May 2004
Widespread dissatisfaction with the proposed $178-million fixed guideway
transit system linking downtown Champaign with Urbana and the University of
Illinois convinced the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District board on Mar.
31 to delay making a decision on whether to seek federal funding for
continued engineering and design studies. “We've gotten some encouragement
from citizens.” MTD board Chairman H. George Friedman told The News-Gazette.
“We've gotten some discouragement from citizens. It was appropriate to go
to the community and say `this is the situation we are facing.’ We have to
be thinking ahead to something more than buses. But I don't think the exact
form needs to be decided right now, or the exact costs.” Other board
members blamed public opposition on misinformation, contending that the
community has to be better educated with more facts. The Urbana City
Council voted in favor of further study while lawmakers in adjacent
Champaign opposed the plan (see RTOL, Mar. & Apr. 2004). Although
streetcars appear to be the preferred mode, guided buses and bus rapid
transit would also be considered as the technology of choice. MTD General
Manager Bill Volk outlined several factors for the MTD board’s decision.
“We frankly are struggling with the weight of the project,” he told The
News-Gazette. “Taking stock of where we are is good for the board and for
us.” Volk also noted that the FTA is changing its criteria for smaller
fixed guideway schemes. “This effectively means starting over with new
individuals with little or no understanding of the project,” he said.