Anticipating Annexation

When public transit means increased independence

Champaign, IL—Ramesh Garg sits in Cafe Kopi, quietly explaining the reason for this meeting: “I’m an independent guy and I don’t want to depend on anyone else to take me places every day.”

Ramesh Garg at Illinois Terminal, CUMTD’s transit hub in Downtown Champaign

Garg has met with multiple staff members from Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) to ask for service to his neighborhood and now, because his home falls within a proposed annexation area, he wants to know when more direct service can begin.

“I’m an independent guy and I don’t want to depend on anyone else to take me places every day.” :Ramesh Garg

It’s not quite that simple. First, an annexation hearing will be held, then MTD’s Board of Trustees will vote on whether to annex the area. Should that vote be affirmative, the District will plan appropriate service for the newly annexed areas with input from residents. “We don’t just annex property,” says Karl Gnadt, Managing Director of MTD, “we annex people and all their varying needs. Then we work to meet those needs as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

For now, Garg walks a cumulative few miles a day to access MTD buses from his neighborhood in far southwest Champaign in order to workout at the gym and volunteer at a local hospital.

“We don’t just annex property,” says Karl Gnadt, Managing Director of CUMTD, “we annex people and all their varying needs. Then we work to meet those needs as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

A resident of Champaign for four years, Garg is a MTD DASH Pass holder, so like all those over age 65, he rides free. Garg moved to Champaign from Salt Lake City where he paid $45 per month for a senior citizen bus pass and wants people to better appreciate and utilize local public transit. He repeatedly stresses the potential benefits of including transit in major area employers’ benefits packages and shares ideas that he believes would refine MTD’s service. He’s a believer in transit as a public good.

For now, Garg’s comments are catalogued by MTD for future planning efforts and he says he will also attend the public annexation hearing. Meantime, he plans to buy a bike this summer to travel to the bus stop nearest his home.

If you’d like to share your opinion about annexation, we’d love to talk with you— contact Lisa Meid at lmeid@mtd.com.

MTD offers mobility options to the residents of Champaign, Urbana & Savoy that include buses, rides for seniors, ADA Paratransit, ZipCar availability, SafeRides home for Illinois students at night, and resources to encourage walkability, biking, and safety.