In November, the Sangamon Mass Transit District (SMTD) Board of Trustees, responding to delays in state payments and continued uncertainty in the state budget moving forward, approved reductions in night service hours proposed in the previous board meeting. Those changes will go into effect Monday, January 9th and include:
- Elimination of Saturday Night Service
- Elimination of Night Service Route 904
- Reduction of all Night Service Monday through Friday by one hour.
Night service after the change will consist of one-hour trips at 6:45, 7:45, 8:45 and 9:45 on the current routes 901, 902, 903 and 905. The nighttime UIS Express to the west side will continue to run Monday through Thursday at 7:15p, 8:15p, 9:15p and 10:15p. Passengers will still be picked up at the bus shelter at Farnham and Lindsay in front of Founders Hall Bookstore.
“Some perceived these cuts as SMTD reducing costs solely by reducing service,” said Steve Schoeffel, SMTD Service Planning & Marketing Specialist. “In fact, these service reductions are just one of several avenues we are exploring to reduce costs.”
Over $600,000 in savings from everything from administrative contracts for items such as office cleaning to millions in capital projects requiring hundreds of thousands in matching local funds being put on hold are being considered. The roughly $180,000 in cost savings from the night service reductions are less than one third of what is already being done while SMTD awaits delayed payments and a clearer budget picture from the state. In addition, technology improvements already approved have been scaled back to still allow for the project to move forward without risking loss of the federal grant funding already committed, but on a longer implementation schedule to allow SMTD more financial flexibility.
“All of these measures add up to a significant amount, and, hopefully, this will get us through for a while without further, more substantial cuts,” Schoeffel added. “We believe this is the least-painful way we can reduce costs and still maintain core services moving forward.”
Should the district’s funding stabilize in the next few months, SMTD plans to re-evaluate these reductions and would consider re-starting services where appropriate.