Sunday, September 22, 2019 - by Don Foley, Cleveland State Community College
A freshman at Cleveland State Community College, Sydney Crane was lost. The 2019 McMinn County High School graduate took a wrong turn during orientation and wound up face-to-face with Cleveland State President Dr. Bill Seymour.
Before sending her in the right direction, Dr. Seymour asked about Ms. Crane’s background. She explained that she comes from Athens every day.
“He said they were thinking of a shuttle bus to McMinn and Meigs counties,” said Ms. Crane, who is studying to become a park ranger. “It sounded cool, so later that day I started telling other people about it. No one had heard about it though.”
That changed a few days later when Ms. Crane and the rest of the Cleveland State student body got an e-mail. The e-mail explained that an innovative shuttle service known as Cougar Coach Shuttle would begin Monday, Aug. 26, offering free transportation to students traveling from Meigs and McMinn counties.
Suddenly, Ms. Crane didn’t have to foot the bill for gas every time she came to campus. She also wouldn’t have to worry about parking. And, if she used her time wisely, she could get a good bit of homework done as she waited for the bus.
Ms. Crane wasn’t the only person who noticed the e-mail. Fellow McMinn County High School graduate Adam Belton perked up at the news, as well.
Having grown up in northeast Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mr. Belton was accustomed to utilizing public transportation. In fact, he relied on public transportation so much that he never got his driver’s license. As a result, his mother had to drive him to and from CSCC for classes. Wanting to give his mom a break, he jumped at the chance to ride the shuttle.
“It takes a lot of gas to be driven back and forth to school,” said Mr. Belton, the first to attend college in his family. “The Cougar Coach Shuttle is a great option for anyone who can’t drive, doesn’t drive, or can’t afford the gas.”
The Cougar Shuttle Coach runs Monday through Thursday, with morning, mid-day, afternoon, and evening trips. Stops are at the Decatur City Hall in Meigs County, Athens Center in McMinn County, and the main campus in Cleveland.
To ride, students simply show up at the appropriate location at the appropriate time. When picked up, they show their student ID, sign the log in the 15-passenger van, and then enjoy the ride.
As owner of Chattanooga Bus Company, Dominic D’Amico oversees a fleet of 16 school vehicles that typically transport K–12 students. When Cleveland State contacted him about their idea for the Cougar Shuttle Coach, he jumped at the chance. He’d never heard of free shuttle service for college students and suspects it may be the first of its kind.
On the first day of service, Mr. D’Amico had one student ride the shuttle. A month later, four more joined in. As it catches on, Mr. D’Amico knows the impact will only grow.
“I’ve had parents shake my hand and thank me for what we’re doing,” Mr. D’Amico said. “All the feedback I’ve gotten has been positive. It’s good to see more students taking advantage of this unique opportunity being presented to them.”
To learn more on the Cougar Shuttle Coach, including the shuttle schedule, call Cleveland State Community College at 472-7141. For more information on the story, contact CSCC’s Director of
Communications and Marketing Don Foley at 473-2341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.