Bus line discussed at Mass Transit meeting

By Michelle Landrum

Members of the Student Association Mass Transit Board discussed changes in the Huskie Bus Line and the Late-Nite Ride Service Monday night in an unofficial meeting.

Four of the nine voting board members were present, failing to fulfill the 2/3 quorum requirement. The members discussed topics which will be addressed at later board meetings.

“We’re here to better the university all around,” said Mass Transit Adviser Dave Pack. “I guess that’s why the Huskie Buses started rolling in 1971,” he said.

The SA mass transit board operates the Huskie buses, the Late- Nite Ride Service and the Handivan.

The board also discussed relocation and installation of bus route signs. The city of DeKalb will move the signs under the supervision of a mass transit official. Labor costs for the sign changes are not known yet. There are about 1,000 stops in the entire Huskie Bus system and about 35 signs must be installed or changed.

Another proposed change in the system is the addition of another Route 4 bus. Board member Rick Cibelli said the bus will not be added “until we need it badly in the winter.”

Over the years, the number of buses servicing the west residence halls has been cut from 16 per hour to nine per hour, said Huskie Line General Manager Charlie Batista. These cuts have caused overcrowding during peak service hours.

The mass transit board also discussed preparing bid packets for the Huskie Line bus supply contract because a five-year, $1.1 million deal with ATC Management Company, St. Louis, will expire this year.

Last year, the Late-Nite Ride Service service transported 2,357 students. The service is projected to transport 1,600 riders during this semester, said Michael Cassman, director of the Late-Nite Ride Service.

The service currently operates Thursday through Saturday, from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Cassman said there is a possibility of expanding the service throughout the week if a demand is evident.

The ride service is “a privilege, not a right,” Cassman said, “It can be revoked.” Last semester, one student was refused further service after threatening a ride service driver. Some people become angry when their non-student friends are denied rides, Cassman said. Because the service is operated on student fees, only NIU students with current university ID’s may use it.

In observance of Unity in Diversity Week, the board will display a Handivan in the Martin Luther King Commons Thursday, Sept. 28 to inform students about transportation problems that handicapped students face.

Pack said he and two staff members will spend the day in wheelchairs to show their support for handicapped students. “I imagine it will be an enlightening experience,” he said.

Finances may be a problem with the mass transit system this semester. Although the mass transit system is “not in the red,” Pack said there is a deficit in the projected budget.

The budget is projected with a certain amount of buffer money which would accomodate a rise in gas prices or the addition of another bus to routes, Pack explained.

Although no major cutbacks are planned, Pack said the board “just doesn’t have that extra insurance money”.