Panther Shuttle to not travel outside Charleston

Nicholas Ruffolo, Staff Reporter

Students without a car on campus often rely on the Panther Shuttle to get around Charleston, but those who need to go to other places in Mattoon must seek other options to keep student fees down.

Dan Nadler, vice president for student affairs, oversees the operation of the Panther Shuttle, which is an on-campus bus system that takes students to designated points around town.

“We have explored in the past looking at particular destinations,” Nadler said. “It has not been really economical for the students in terms of increasing the mandatory fee.”

As of fall 2014, the fee for students to use the Panther Shuttle is 86 cents per credit hour ($10.32 maximum), filed under “Activity Fee.” Nadler would not provide an exact number, but he said the increase was enough for the Student Senate to pass on the idea.

“How much are you willing to spend extra to fund those additional destinations and locations?” Nadler said. “It’s a very small amount of money that the students have been willing to add to the current fee. So it is really impossible from a financial standpoint to expand the service.”

Nadler said the reason for implementing the Panther Shuttle in the first place was to move students around campus and to select locations in Charleston.

Jennifer Sipes, special assistant to the vice president of student affairs, said students who need to go to Mattoon have other options.

“Dial-A-Ride has been around for a long time,” Sipes said. “We work very closely together to help meet the needs of both our students and the residents of Coles County.”

Dial-A-Ride offers door-to-door service, which allows customers to set a pick-up time and destination for Dial-A-Ride to arrive at their home and take them where they need to go.

That service is $3 for destinations in Mattoon and Charleston, $4 for places outside city limits and $7 for destinations outside Coles County.

For those who need to go somewhere in Mattoon every day, Dial-A-Ride has a Zip Line service, which makes stops at the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center and the Amtrak Depot, among others.

“It is 50 cents,” Sipes said. “There’s no way you can drive to Mattoon for 50 cents.”

For students who have classes at Lake Land Community College in Mattoon, the Zip Line makes a stop at the main entrance.

“It’s a win-win for the whole county,” Sipes said. “[Dial-A-Ride] has been a wonderful partner in working with us and listening to the needs of our students.”

Although the university’s main transportation service, the Panther Shuttle, does not go outside city limits, there are still ways to get around.

Nadler said the options are there, students may just not be aware of them.

“[Dial-A-Ride] is one means of transportation available,” Nadler said. “[Students] can decide what is most important to them.”


Nicholas Ruffolo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]