CHARLESTON — There will be a few route changes made when Coles County’s fixed stop bus service turns a year old next week.
Changes to the Dial-A-Ride “Zip Line” service will be put in place because of ridership numbers and demand, Director Susan Starwalt said.
The new routes will be in place on Tuesday, which is the one-year anniversary of when Dial-A-Ride began offering scheduled stops and dropoff points in Charleston and Mattoon. That service was added after Dial-A-Ride had provided by-appointment bus service for several years.
Starwalt said the Zip Line is on pace for 10,000 total riders for its first year.
“We are so happy with the ridership,” she said. “We are pleased with how it’s turned out.”
With the route changes, three current stops will be eliminated, Starwalt said. Those are at the Charleston Post Office in the Northwest Business Park, the corner of 21st Street and Commercial Avenue in Mattoon and the Lake Land College adult education building on Lake Land Boulevard, Mattoon.
Starwalt said use each of those locations amounted to 7 percent or less of all the stops on the routes.
Meanwhile, two stops will be added to the routes, the main entrance of Lake Land College and the Newman Catholic Center on the Eastern Illinois University campus.
Starwalt said Dial-A-Ride has always received numerous requests for trips to Lake Land through its by-appointment service, so now riders can reach that destination for the Zip Line 50-cent fee instead of paying $4 for the other service. Also, the Newman Center is closer to several student housing locations than the Zip Line’s other EIU stop at the university’s student union, she said.
The routes operate weekdays starting at 8 a.m. with the last circuit starting at 4 p.m. They originally ended at 2 p.m. but that changed in July because of ridership.
Starwalt said the Zip Line is averaging about 80 riders each day compared to about 30 each day for the first month it was in place.
“It’s continuing to grow every month,” she said.
The most-used stops are the corner of Sixth Street and Monroe Avenue in Charleston and the CVS Pharmacy in Mattoon. Starwalt said there’s no apparent reason for those locations’ popularity and there’s also no pattern of the service being used more one day than any other.
“It’s very steady from day to day,” she said.
The Coles County Council on Aging operates the Dial-A-Ride program and initiated the fixed route service because of requests from businesses and service organizations and because such a service is one of the goal’s of Coles County’s comprehensive plan, Starwalt said.
Starwalt also said the program wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of the owners of the properties where the stops are located.
She said anyone with questions or wanting more information about the Zip Line or Dial-A-Ride’s other programs can call 217-639-5169 or 800-500-5505 or go online at www.dialaridetransit.org.
Contact Fopay at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-238-6858.