The Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round, Round and Round…

By Mohammad Nofal

I have a chauffeur. My chauffeur’s hair changes color every night. At approximately 12:00 am, to my sore and tired eyes, it appears to be blonde, brown, or sometimes it is as grey as a rain cloud.

Actually, this hair belongs to the several people who take me home nearly every night. More specifically, I am referring to the bus drivers of the “SafeRides” program at UIUC. The SafeRides program offers university students rides home late at night, be it after a long night of partying or a strenuous night of studying at the library. Of course, it is strange for me to refer to the bus drivers of the SafeRides program by the color of their hair. But when they pick me up, I usually sit in front of the bus in the seat immediately behind theirs, so their number one distinguishing feature just happens to be their hair. But, since I have been taking SafeRides more frequently lately, I have come to know more about the drivers than just the color of their hair. Here is what I have been able to gather about the bus drivers so far: very few people know their true names, the blonde driver usually works on weekends, and the driver with the grey hair is hilarious.

As I mentioned, SafeRides is a nightly bus service for university students. Each bus is like a miniature version of the MTD buses that you see (or will see) around campus. To have a bus driver meet you at a designated location, simply call SafeRides at 217-265-7433, and this number can be found at the back of your iCard. When calling to request a pickup, I found that it is helpful to first tell the speaker that you are requesting a SafeRides pickup, and then they will immediately request your location, number of students riding with you (in case you want to ride SafeRides along with your friends), and, finally, your destination.

Granted, SafeRides will not be able to take you everywhere you wish to go at any time, because sometimes if you are near an MTD bus stop it would be more convenient for you and for the SafeRides bus drivers if you took the regularly scheduled MTD buses instead. As an example, I live at a location where the regularly scheduled MTD buses pass by until 11:30 pm each night. So if I were to request a SafeRides pickup before 11:30, I would probably be asked to take the regularly scheduled MTD bus instead. Of course, SafeRides will be happy to take me home anytime after 11:30 pm.

So the bus drivers of the SafeRides program are practically my chauffeurs. They can be your chauffeurs too. Just call SafeRides whenever you need a pickup late at night.

To learn more about SafeRides & the area it serves, visit the CUMTD website and look for the SafeRides route!

To Keep Balance, Keep Moving!

By Sarah Bransley

Bicycling is a great way to get around campus… most of the time. There’s a big controversy surrounding HOW people should bike on campus so if you’re new here it’s especially hard to figure out what you’re supposed to do.
Some of the tips to follow about bikes are concrete and hold no argument. Don’t ride in the street going the wrong way down a one-way. You’ll get a ticket if a cop sees you. Another is that you need a front light if you’re riding a night. It’s illegal otherwise.
Others tips are more common courtesy. Many students have a huge pet peeve about students who ride their bikes on sidewalks. Though it’s not illegal, there are specific bike lanes dedicated to bike use throughout campus. Now they aren’t as well maintained as the sidewalks and don’t go everywhere, so bicyclists may use sidewalks instead. Use your head and ride safely for both you and the others around you.
One particularly nasty spot to ride your bike on the sidewalk is on the Quad between classes. Just don’t. There’s far too many people and it can get quite dangerous.
Speaking of dangerous, pedestrians aren’t completely innocent. Most students who don’t ride bikes aren’t aware of the bike lanes and don’t look for bicyclists before walking across them. So if you’re riding your bike, be aware that students can and do walk right in front of you without warning. Is it your fault? No. Could you really hurt someone? Yes.
One last thought before I end my blog. Helmets. You will be riding your bike between pedestrians mostly, but also crossing streets and riding near cars. It’s up to you whether you want to protect that thing you’re paying tens of thousands of dollars to fill with knowledge. I would protect my investment over perfect hair. Actually I’d probably just pack some hair brushes and stuff to fix it…
So there you go! Some tips and ideas to think about if you will be riding a bike or walking on campus with those bikes. Try not to hate on each other so much guys. We’re all just trying to get to class so we can graduate.

How to Use and Get to Know the Bus System

By Joseph A’Hearn

Calling it the Spring Semester is a cheap marketing trick. At U of I, we all know the name Winter Semester more adeptly describes the bitter cold our flesh endures on our way around campus. In the winter, most of all, you’ll want to travel by bus rather than by bicycle or on foot. The good news is that since you’re a student at U of I, you get to travel the Champaign-Urbana bus system for free! But there are so many different bus routes. How do you know which bus to hop on?

In this blog I want to mention a few resources that I wish I had known when I transferred to U of I last spring.

1. Google Maps: Just type in your starting point and destination, and then select the public transit icon. It will show you your options. I usually take a look at this on my computer before I go outside.

2. Maps and Schedules on the official Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District website: (You can even download the whole booklet in PDF format!) If you want to be a bus guru, this is your resource. All the info you could ever want about the bus system.

3. Phone Apps: I installed three apps on my Android phone: Transit – CUMTD and My Bus Helper: MTD are the two I still use. I don’t remember what the third one was, but if I deleted it, it must have been pretty useless. I’ve found Transit – CUMTD more helpful when I know where I’m departing from, but not necessarily where I’m getting off, and My Bus Helper: MTD more helpful when I don’t know exactly where I should get on, but I know where I’m going.

4. The 22/220 Illini: This is the bus that meanders through campus. If you have no clue which bus to get on, hop on the 22/220 Illini, and eventually you can jump off relatively close to any destination. You should really get to know the bus system better than this, though. It’s just a last resort.

Over time you will get to know which bus works best for each of your trips in the weekly cycle of classes, labs, meetings, and events. You may even get to know the various bus drivers. You will get to know other tricks of the trade that I did not include in this brief blog. Best of luck getting around! And stay warm!