SAMTB plans bus shuttle to Geneva

By Pam Schmidt

Finding a way home might be easier for students living in the Chicago’s far western suburbs if a proposal to operate a bus shuttle to the train station in Geneva is approved.

The bus shuttle would give mobility to students living in areas including Wheaton, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn, River Forest, Maywood, Oak Park, Melrose Park, Lombard and Villa Park. Previously, students were unable to use the train system unless someone drove them to the station.

The Student Association Mass Transit Board has been working on this project for several months. However, before any plans are finalized, the SAMTB might survey students for their opinions about the project.

“We need to find out the demand first,” said SAMTB Chairman Phil Kessler. If the demand is great enough, the shuttle might be run on an experimental basis, he said.

Students might have to pre-pay for rides on the first few shuttles to ensure a full bus. If there are not enough riders, the shuttle might be cancelled. Kessler said he hopes to begin running the shuttle in early January.

Mary Hermsen, busing graduate adviser, said the SAMTB is planning to run the shuttle as a student service rather than a public service. If the service were to be open to the public Hermsen said the university might create legal complications with the Interstate Commerce Commission because of competition and tax-break factors.

To avoid overstepping legal boundaries, the SAMTB might rent a bus from NIU Transportation on a weekly basis, depending on the number of reservations for the week. The SAMTB would have to submit a request for the use of the bus, which would be treated as a student activity. According to the priority list, NIU athletic team travel requests will be filled before shuttle bus requests, said Bill Finucane, supervisor for NIU Transportation.

“I haven’t had to turn down a request yet this semester,” he said. Finucane estimated the cost of running the bus shuttle at about $87 per roundtrip. The bus seats about 41 people.

If approved, students might be able to pay less, “about $2 or $3 to ride the shuttle roundtrip,” which might run once a day on weekends, Kessler said.

Funding for the project will be taken from the reserve money in the SAMTB budget, Kessler said. “It would be too idealistic to run the first few buses based on a user fee,” he said.

owever, Kessler said he would like to see the shuttle operate in the same manner as the Greyhound Charter buses. Student fees will not be raised to operate the shuttle because the system will “idealistically become self-sufficient by user fees,” Kessler said.

Chris Knapton, Public Information Director for Metra transportation, the company operating the Chicago Northwestern Railroad, said Metra would be “more than glad to accommodate any efforts to help coordinate the bus and train schedules. We would like to work with the system.”