HuskieLine to receive new GPS


Brett Williams, former Student Association director of Mass Transit, facilitates a focus group on the HuskieLine on Feb. 23 in the Campus Life Building. A new tracking system may debut next semester at the earliest, said Rob Jusino, Student Association director of Mass Transit.

By Alexander Chettiath

Students may not see a new HuskieLine bus tracking system until next semester, said Rob Jusino, Student Association director of Mass Transit.

The new GPS system, which Jusino said would range in the thousands of dollars, stemmed from SA’s 2015 spring strategic plan that included new routes and a personalized design scheme for all buses — a plan that was meant to complement NIU President Doug Baker’s idea to create a 10-minute campus, according to a February 9 Northern Star article.

“The system that we have is not the best. … We noticed there were a lot of errors and [a] lot of deficiencies,” Jusino said. “It seemed much more simple to get a third-party company that specializes in transit systems.”

That third party will be ETA Transit Systems, which is headquartered in Boynton Beach, Fla. and has done work for transit systems at the University of Houston, Virginia Commonwealth University, Florida Atlantic University, among others, according to the company’s website.

Nancy Pacheco, sophomore business administration major, said she rides the HuskieLine every day, but she would be interested in some upgrades to reduce her waiting time.

“It’s alright, except for the bus tracker; it’s always messing up,” Pacheco said. “I’m checking every day for a bus, and most of the time it’s not working.”

Pacheco’s sentiments were echoed by Vipul Gudoori, first year industrial engineer graduate student, who said he has only started using the bus system this semester.

“The tracker system is fine except that sometimes it just crashes,” Gudoori said. “Every five times I use it, it crashes two to three times.”

NIU and the Student Association are in contractual stages with ETA Transit Systems, and because the GPS system must be implemented when the buses are not in use, Jusino said he does not expect the system to be accessible until after winter break.

“DeKalb is a cold campus so we didn’t want a student to miss class because of a silly error or get stuck in the cold unnecessarily because of a GPS issue,” Jusino said.

NIU has 24 buses and will be adding another next month. Of the 25 HuskieLine buses, 22 will be standard fixed route buses and three will be for paratransit. All buses will be fitted for the new system, said HuskieLine General Manager Marcus Cox.