Sycamore served by Huskie Bus Line

By Holly Schubert

Thanks to a cooperative effort between the city of Sycamore and the NIU Student Association Mass Transit Board, the Huskie Bus Line has provided weekday service to Sycamore since last fall.

Although it has the lowest ridership of all of the Huskie Bus Line routes, the ridership is “steadily increasing as people become aware of the service,” Mass Transit Board Chairman Dave Emerick said.

As of March 12, the Sycamore route transported 3,163 people. An average of 420 people use Route 9 weekly, Emerick said.

Emerick said the board attributes low ridership figures to the fact that the route is new and not many people are aware they can use it.

Although the route began as a shuttle service for NIU engineering students, Emerick said between 10 and 15 percent of the Route 9 passengers are non-students.

Huskie Bus passes can be purchased at the Sycamore City Hall, 535 DeKalb Ave. City resident passes cost $40 and NIU faculty and staff passes cost $30.

NIU students can ride the bus route free with a student idenification card. Passengers without an NIU student I.D. or a bus pass must pay 50 cents upon boarding a bus, Emerick said.

The board plans to maintain the current Route 9 bus stops and schedule to attract more passengers, he said.

“The route hits all the hot spots,” Emerick said. The bus stops at the College of Engineering building on North Cross Street, the DeKalb County Courthouse, the Sycamore Municipal Building and downtown Sycamore, among other stops.

Emerick said the route was initiated after representatives from NIU’s College of Engineering asked the board to provide students with transportation to the engineering building in Sycamore.

When Emerick assumed chairmanship of the board in June 1988, he began talking to Sycamore officials, including Mayor Harold “Red” Johnson, about the possibility of extending bus service to Sycamore, Emerick said.

The mayor expressed his support of the service, Emerick said, and took information back to the Sycamore City Council. The Route 9 began operation in September under a “gentlemen’s agreement.” A formal contract between the city and the board was signed in early December, Emerick said.

In the contract, Sycamore paid $500 for the bus service. The council and the board agreed the money would be earmarked for publicizing the new route.

“In the future, I see the Route 9 expanding as I see all the other routes expanding due to the (NIU) population shifting,” he said. Emerick said Sycamore is a “nice community” and he predicts more NIU students will move to Sycamore.