Summer busing successful

By Jean Dobrzynski

For the first time in nine years, Huskie buses stayed on the streets and chauffeured NIU students and DeKalb residents around town this past summer.

After some controversy last spring about whether it would be economical to keep the buses operating during summer months, the numbers prove it was a success, said Patrick Sanchez, Student Association Mass Transit Board executive director.

Janet Wig, Huskie Line office manager, said during the summer, two buses ran two routes each, a Weekend 3, Weekend 4 and routes 2 and 7. She said they ran Monday through Thursday for 12 hours a day.

Sanchez said there were 13,497 riders from June 17 to Aug. 8, which averaged to about 400 riders per day or 1.3 passengers per mile.

Each student was assessed $.45 per credit hour for the summer bus service, which was substantially lower than the average of $3.50 per credit hour the full-time student now pays in student fees during the regular semester, he said.

Sanchez said it costs $16.75 an hour to run one bus and the buses ran 31 days. That totals $201 per day for each bus or $6,231 total for the entire 31 days or $12,462 for both buses.

Doug Sammons, SAMTB fiscal adviser, pointed out that although the number of riders was high, each time a passenger got on or off the buses, they were counted, so it is possible that riders were counted more than once.

“The numbers were still impressive when you consider that was no summer service last year and a lot of people didn’t know about it … at least at the beginning of the summer,” Sammons said.

“But now we have the numbers that back up the fact that we need to sustain the funds now to continue the service next summer,” he said.

Last year, the SA distributed a survey asking students if they would be interested in continuing bus service throughout the summer and found there was a definite need.

“Students are in need of transportation here in the summer and we service them and a large part of the growing community,” Sanchez said.

“It exceeded everyone’s expectations,” he said. “We were praying for a nice turnout but never expected to get the numbers that we did. We weren’t even expecting half of what we got.”