Students ride free with a valid ID

By Gus Bode

Grab the ID and GO!

Deck Saluki Express bus travels all over the SIUC campus and the city of Carbondale.

There’s no need to worry about gas money, parking space or hitching a ride when you can ride for free with your student ID. The Saluki Express bus has been the official public transportation system for SIU and the Carbondale community since1995. According to Jeff Duke, assistant director of the Student Center, the bus provides transportation for an average of 325,000 people annually.

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During fall and spring semesters, the Saluki Express runs seven days a week. Most routes begin between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and end between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. For those evening events there is a late night route that begins at 9 p.m. and runs until 2:30 a.m. on weekdays and 3:30 a.m. on weekends.

When the system first began, there were only seven routes, Duke said. Now the Saluki Express has 11 routes covering all major retail and housing areas.

Popular destinations such as Wal-Mart, University Mall, Murdale Shopping Center, Kroger and Illinois Avenue are all encompassed in Saluki Express routing. There are also two routes that circle the campus to make traveling from class to class more convenient.

The bus goes everywhere I need to go, and the fact that it is free is a plus, Laquita Hayes, SIU sophomore in interior design, said.

Some improvements are coming to the Saluki Express this fall. A new shuttle bus will be implemented to decrease on-campus parking problems like ticketing, inadequate spaces and safety.

The shuttle will leave from the Arena parking lot every 20 minutes and circle the campus, Duke said. This system should save a lot of parking hassles.

In addition to the shuttle, two new busses will replace older models this fall as well. Duke said the new busses should solve breakdown and scheduling problems. The new busses built by Beck Bus Company, will be wheelchair accessible like all of the existing busses.

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For riders that are not SIUC students, the Saluki Express fares are inexpensive. The semester pass rates are $40 for SIUC faculty, staff and the general public and $25 for spouses and children of SIUC students. Monthly passes are available for $13 a month and regular fare is $.75 per ride.

Alternative transportation, like cabs, can become costly, Ravinia Beauty Flippen, an SIU psychology senior, said. A trip to Wal-Mart and back home can cost you almost $8.

The Saluki Express stresses comfort as well. The busses are air conditioned for hot weather and heated for winter. After dark, passengers can request to be dropped off anywhere along the route.

Bus schedules and additional information can be located at the information station in the Student Center, in the back of the SIU Official Dawg Book and in each bus.

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