Transit Board foresees possible budget deficit

By Michelle Landrum

The Student Association Mass Transit Board will not know until later this month if the system faces a $16,000 deficit.

The mass transit budget is based upon student fees charged per credit hour. Because the number of chargeable credit hours varies when students drop classes, the board will not find out the exact number of chargeable credit hours for about two weeks.

The current projected budget is based on estimated credit hours, but these projections have been overestimated the past two years by the President’s Fee Study Commission.

“It’s a very delicate thing because we have to trust in projections,” said Cyro Gazola, graduate assistant to the board. “A 1 percent deviation in the credit hours might sway the balance,” he said.

A $16,000 deficit exists in the projected 1990 budget, but Gazola said several “points of uncertainty” could change the budget. A more accurate assessment would include a savings of $10,000 in the base bus bid and about $17,000 in additive services, while increasing the Late Nite Ride Service and Handivan budgets by $1,000 each. This would leave a $9,000 carryover.

“Nine thousand dollars isn’t a whole lot. The points of uncertainty could put us in the red,” said Mass Transit Adviser Dave Pack.

The board has had budget carryovers of about $100,000 for the past several years, Pack said. With that much buffer, “little fluctuations didn’t devastate the board,” he said.

In other business, Late Nite Ride Service ridership during the first five weeks of this semester has increased 97 percent since last fall, said Michael Cassman, director of the service.

The service is investigating the development of a legal waiver to solve a problem with non-students and students who forget their IDs calling the service for rides. The rider would have to sign a waiver stating that they are a registered NIU student.

Non-NIU students are not allowed to use the service because they do not pay student fees and university insurance would not cover them in case of an accident, Cassman said.

“If we started charging fees (per ride), we would be a taxi service, and there are city ordinances against that,” Cassman said. Student fees are a way of providing the ride service without charging for each trip.

The board also discussed moving bus stop 10 on Route 3A. The board looked into adding another stop between stops 10 and 11, but decided it would increase the route’s running time by too much.

“We could put stops every half-block around Route 3, then the people will be better served, but that’ll increase running time and won’t better serve anyone,” said Huskie Line General Manager Charlie Battista.

Ridership on Route 3 has decreased by one-third because full buses cannot pick up passengers, Battista said. “Our declining ridership is largely due from going to a 15-minute schedule to a 20-minute schedule,” he said.