Handivan suffering from labor crunch

By Holly Schubert

NIU’s labor shortage has meant a lack of drivers and interrupted service for a newly implemented handicapped bus service.

Bill Finucane, transportation supervisor, told members of the Student Association Mass Transit Board that he has attempted to cover “class to class” schedule transports when possible by using Transportation Department civil service employees.

Dave Emerick, the board’s chairman, said he will send a letter to disabled students informing them that the ride service might not be available at certain times until the board can hire more drivers.

Service is affected on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Problems also exist on Thursdays between 9:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to a memorandum Finucane sent to the board.

During these times, service is not available for the disabled students if Finucane cannot cover the shifts.

“It’s my understanding that students are being told (by telecommunications when they call in for a ride) that there is no van operator available in that time frame.”

The labor crunch increased with the resignation of one driver.

Finucane said the bus driver job openings have been posted.

Board member Kristen Hallerud said it is easier to hire in August than during the semester.

Emerick said a Class B driver’s license is required to drive the handicap van. The NIU Transportation Department will train new drivers on the proper operation of the wheelchair lift, he said.