On March 9, 2012 the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District hosted a group representing staff from the City of Columbia, MO, the University of Missouri, students, community stakeholders and media. The group also visited Lawrence, Kansas and Ames, Iowa seeking information on ways to build a stronger transit system through better coordination between the university and local government. A presentation was made by Bill Volk, C-UMTD Managing Director on the overview of the history of the U of I agreement and its impact on local transit service. Bruce Knight FAICP, Planning Director presented the history of the Campus Area Transportation Study (CATS) and its impact on improving pedestrian safety and discouraging students from bringing cars to campus. Morgan Johnston, U of I Sustainability and Transportation Coordinator discussed implementation activities, the governance structure, and partnerships. Following a presentation of some additional information about transit service in the community, the group was provided a tour of the Illinois Terminal and rode one of the routes.
According to Bill Volk, the team was impressed with the comprehensive effort, the level of cooperation, and stated that they have a hard time with one city and one university. Two newspaper articles and an editorial were written about the trip. The headline of an article in the Columbia Daily Tribune read “Final bus trip features impressive’ system.” In an editorial in the Columbia Daily Tribune stated that “The gold standard for a public bus system in a town the size of Columbia seems to exist in Champaign-Urbana, the home of the University of Illinois.” The Missourian stated that “The difference is like night and day. Of the three educational bus trips to Midwestern towns organized by Columbia city officials, the final installment, a visit to the home of the University of Illinois on Friday, was the most jaw-dropping.” The full articles are worth reading as they provide a reminder from an outsider’s perspective of how strong our transit service is, and the level of cooperation that has been achieved in our area.