Budget crunch eliminates bus routes

By Gus Bode

Starting in the fall semester, the Saluki Express will condense the three most popular routes, 1, 10 and 52, into one. The move is expected to lower costs and help the university’s budget. Stops where ridership was low have been eliminated and no new stops were added. – Steve Matzker | Daily Egyptia

SIUC will combine three bus routes beginning in the fall semester because of budget constraints.

“We have to live within the budget,” said Lori Stettler, director of the Student Center.

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Bus routes 1, 10 and 53, which are the three largest and have the most stops, will be combined into one route. Low ridership on all three routes is one determining factor in the decision made to combine the routes.

USG President Brain Nelson said the stops of routes 1, 10 and 52 will be condensed into the Logan Route beginning fall semester 2011.

“Some stops were eliminated and a lot of people are mad about that,” Nelson said.

The stops on Routes 1, 10 and 52 that recorded low ridership were eliminated while the stops of these routes that recorded the highest student ridership were condensed into the Logan Route, said Nelson.

The Logan Route stops include the Student Center, the Engineering building, the Communications building, the Northwest Annex at Wham building, Pullian Hall, Amtrak, Save-A-Lot, Walnut Street at Lewis Lane, Carbondale High School, SIU Credit Union, Kroger, Kohl’s, John A Logan College, C.A.S.A Carterville, Whiffle Boys, Walgreens, the Recreation Center and then return to the Student Center.

The Board of Trustees voted to combine the routes July 14.

Rod Sievers, assistant to the chancellor for media relations, said the decision was an agreement between the university and the Beck Bus company, the company with which SIUC has a contract.

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“The university has contracted with the same bus company for a number of years,” Sievers said. “Combining routes cut costs for the university and the bus company.”

Stettler said operation and employment costs would increase and be wasted if buses continued to run where students do not frequently ride.

At the end of every school year, Stettler said the university records the ridership of bus routes and adjusts them accordingly. She said the university records student ridership when students swipe their ID card to ride the bus.

“We know where ridership of students is the highest and we know where it is the lowest,” Stettler said. “We eliminated the routes where we saw ridership of students was low and infrequent.”

Aaron Adams, a junior from Chicago studying biology, said he used route 10 most often during his freshman and sophomore year.

“There are more students (who) don’t have a car than those who do,” Adams said. “Route 10 goes everywhere a student could possibly need to go in Carbondale.”

Adams said many students, including himself, use the bus for transportation to work, the grocery store and the movies.

Stettler said the decision to combine the routes was made with the approval of Undergraduate Student Government.

“Students can report what changes they want to see regarding the bus routes to USG, they would then report to us and let us know student concerns (about bus transportation),” Stettler said. “If student requests can be done within the budget, then we make changes accordingly.”

Stettler said when there is a large demand for new bus routes, new routes are created to satisfy student interests such as the late night transit route and the bus route created to transport students to and from the Reserves apartment complex when it was built.

She said new routes can be created, but old routes cannot be reintegrated into the bus schedules.

Stettler said the new bus routes and stops for the fall semester can be viewed on the Student Center website.

“Students are welcome to bring any concerns they may have regarding the new routes to our attention,” Stettler said.

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