Van service extended

By Darrell Hassler

Students in wheelchairs can get transportation in the afternoon every weekday during the spring instead of the regular two days a week.

The move came after Bill Finucane, NIU transportation supervisor, said students were complaining about reduced Handivan service in spring after it ran nearly full-time during the winter.

The Handivan is used mainly as transportation for students in wheelchairs.

During the winter, Finucane said the Handivan was picking people up from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every weekday.

But after Spring Break, the morning hours are cut out and the Handivan runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on weekdays.

Finucane said the Handivan has been cutting the spring hours for several years. Though the disabled can request service for any time of the day, the pickup has to be scheduled 24 hours ahead of time, he said.

However, because of the complaints, the Student Association Mass Transit Board voted 7-1 to add 15 more hours of Handivan service by allowing pickups from 1 to 9 p.m. every weekday.

The extended hours will start April 8 and will cost between $500 and $600 extra for the rest of the year, the SAMTB estimated.

Co-Vice Chairman Richard Parkman, who was the lone dissenting vote, said extra service should not be given so quickly because so few students asked for it.

“I am not going to approve extra service without a single student coming and speaking to the board about this,” Parkman said, noting that no one had called the mass transit office.

“That is ridiculous. I could request extra service just for myself then,” he said.

The board already has decided that next year’s Handivan will be available all day and night like the usual bus service.

Getting more hours for the Handivan has been a “longstanding” issue over the past few years, said Sue Reinhardt, a coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities.

Mass Transit Executive Director Todd Allen said word of the changes is being mailed to the students with disabilities.