Students traveling by Saluki Express from Carterville to Carbondale will have to find an alternative form of transportation this fall.
Changes were made over the summer to the Saluki Express routes, which Mass Transit student fees help fund, including the addition of a new route and the cancellation of another. Bill Bruns, deputy director of the Student Center, said the Carterville route was cancelled because it would have had low SIU student ridership this fall since SIU automotive technology programs will be moving from the location in Carterville to the new Transportation Education Center at Southern Illinois Airport between Carbondale and Murphysboro.
“It was a cooperative thing,” he said. “We didn’t need to go out there anymore … and so it would only be for [John A. Logan's] students then.”
Bruns said information from the spring semester shows about 200 John A. Logan students rode the Carterville route while about 20 SIU students rode the route. Because of the SIU student ridership, Bruns said the university decided it was not a benefit to the university’s students.
While Bruns said the Carterville route was expensive because of the distance it covered, he said the addition of a new crosstown route around Carbondale makes the cost an even exchange.
However, another bus route is available to students at John A. Logan and in Carterville.
Steve O’Keefe, John A. Logan College spokesman, said Rides Mass Transit is going to run five bus routes from the Carterville campus to Carbondale Monday through Friday.
“It’s really turned out to be OK for us and our students,” he said.
O’Keefe said John A. Logan paid for a portion of the Saluki Express route, but if the route continued, the college would have to cover the entire cost, which he said wasn’t feasible.
“We appreciate what SIU did for us for all those years, and we fully understood when they had no need to come to Carterville,” he said.
But some John A. Logan students are upset over the way the bus routes were changed.
Ayn Downey, a Carbondale resident studying biomedical engineering at John A. Logan College, said riders were not informed of the cancellation of the Carterville route until the summer semester’s final weeks.
“They did us a disservice,” she said.
While the Saluki Express route to Carterville was eliminated at the end of July, Rides transportation did not begin until the first week of fall classes at John A. Logan. Downey said the new transportation is being offered to John A. Logan students at $100 a semester or $2 per ride, but some riders were unable to get to the college from Carbondale before the semester because they have to acquire financial aid through the college to afford the transportation.
About six John A. Logan route riders attended a City Council meeting this month to petition to get the Saluki Express route reinstated. Downey said the riders are primarily upset about the lack of warning before the routes were changed because a new bus service is offered now.
Downey said City Council and John A. Logan representatives have been working with the riders since they expressed their concerns.
Saluki Express route addition
A new Saluki Express route has been added in Carbondale. The crosstown route, with its 48 stops, will connect SIU to the University Mall, Eurma C. Hayes Center, Memorial Hospital and Murdale Shopping Center from Monday to Friday.
The weekend route will include some of the crosstown stops, but it will also incorporate stops from the south route, which includes Southern Hills.
Another change may benefit students and community members who live at Evergreen Terrace. Bruns said the Saluki Express stopped at Evergreen once an hour before the switches, but it will now stop there twice each hour.
He said all of the route changes were suggested by the Mass Transit Advisory Board, which has student representatives as well as members from the community.
The Saluki Express routes changed slightly last spring with some additions to routes. Tasa Proctor, a graduate student in public administration from Chicago and chair of the Mass Transit Advisory Board, said the board began to discuss changes to the routes last fall because students were displeased with the stops — particularly the frequency of bus stops on Carbondale’s east side.
A bus rider herself, Proctor said she is able to seek student concerns by getting input from fellow riders.
Proctor said she has not heard complaints about the John A. Logan route cancellation. Although she said it was the board’s responsibility to make decisions regarding bus routes, the decision to cancel the route was already made by SIU administration because of the route’s financial burden and low ridership.
“We didn’t have an actual say in that,” she said.
Proctor said she thinks the new routes will help students overall.
“I think it’s much better than the original changes that were made, and this will definitely benefit the student,” she said.
The Mass Transit student fee this fall is $48 for full-time students. Proctor said she spoke with Chancellor Rita Cheng to ensure the cost for transportation does not increase.
“(Cheng) is against raising any more fees for transportation,” Proctor said.
More information on the Saluki Express routes can be found on the Student Center website, and Rides transportation routes for John A. Logan can be found at www.ridesmtd.com.
Proctor said any students with concerns or complaints regarding Saluki Express routes can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.