EIU police department to bring new panther shuttle bus

Cam'ron Hardy, News Editor

The University Police Department is responsible for the Panther Shuttle Bus, which is a way for student to travel around Charleston without paying.

With this, there is only being two full time drivers currently driving the shuttle bus, causing there to be limited hours and places that the bus can go.

The shuttle bus is available from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

According to Chief Public Safety Officer, Marisol Gamboa, there are multiple students have problems with the current shuttle bus.

Gamboa said that students have walked to the police station stating that there are problems.

“It’s affecting the entire community as a whole, but if it affects the students that don’t have vehicles on campus, because they’re not able to get around campus, they’re not able to get around to the city, to go grocery shopping, to go to the pharmacy, or other stops that are included in our route,” Gamboa said.

Some students have to walk to walk to these places, including Walmart, which is a 1.4-mile walk, which can take 29 minutes, according to Google Maps. It may take longer depending on the weather too.

Another issue with the current shuttle bus is that drivers to obtain Commercial Driver’s License’s, CDL, which are costly. Gamboa said that the cost for obtaining a CDL license can be up to $5000.

They also take time to obtain too. Gamboa said some of the things that someone would have to do to get a CDL would have to pass a physical and medical drug exam, have a good driving record, and go through the police departments interview process, and then they would do a background check on the person.

Gamboa is working on getting a new shuttle bus that do not require CDL’s, allowing it to be easier to get more people to drive the bus.

This new bus will have a maximum of 15 people including the riders and would have 2 wheelchair accessible seats and 12 passengers.

Gamboa said the bus the department are looking at getting is a 2022 Chevrolet Turtle Top Terra Transit.

She said it would be a good choice because that type of vehicle does not require a CDL license and the bus in general is more affordable.

“I feel it would make it more attractive to anybody in our community or anybody in Coles County that would be interest in being a part time shuttle bus driver,” Gamboa said.

Another reason why the vehicle was chosen is because of its weight, according to Gamboa.

“The weight on [the current vehicle] exceeds the 26,001 pounds that’s required for a CDL,” Gamboa said. “Now if we get the new shuttle bus, then it’s under 26,000 pounds, and it seats less than 15 people, so we would not require a CDL.”

Gamboa said another service that students can use instead of the Panther Shuttle Bus is the dollar ride services, which she says is pretty affordable.

Orange is the New Ride Taxi service is another available service that students can take advantage of.

“I don’t want our students to think that we’re not proactively pursing fixing the issue,” Gamboa said. “We are, we’ve been working on this for some time now, and it’s really important to us to offer services to our students.

Cam’ron Hardy can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].