3R, 3L routes coming back to Huskie Bus Line


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 Augustin Zehnder

The HUSKIELINE will split the 4 route back into the 3R and 3L routes after complaints of overcrowding at a Tuesday focus group.

Brett Williams, Student Association director of Mass Transit, opened the focus group by asking students what they found “annoying” about the HUSKIELINE as it is run. Williams said student input at the last focus group, held in February, led to the creation of the Barsema Express route, which connects the residence halls and the Holmes Student Center with Barsema Hall and the Music Building, among other stops.

Williams said there was “a very good chance” Tuesday’s focus group could lead to the creation of similarly useful routes.

The SA launched a revamp of the bus line and a series of focus groups Feb. 8 to incorporate student input in creating routes and design and improving the bus tracking system.

Students responded with complaints about overcrowding, long wait times at bus stops and the reliability of the HUSKIELINE’s bus tracking system. Several students said they were particularly concerned about overcrowding on Route 4 buses, which they said often means buses, filled to maximum capacity, must bypass crucial stops on the route.

Other students expressed the desire for a bus that would service the downtown DeKalb area to benefit students and downtown business owners. SA Senator Robert Jusino, vice president for Mass Transit, said a downtown more easily accessible by students would fit well with NIU President Doug Baker’s goal of making NIU a communiversity, an institution with close ties to residents and business owners.

Buses on the 4 route tend to be overcrowded, Williams said, because of an earlier decision to merge the 3R and 3L routes into the 4 route. Williams said until there is a better solution, the 3R and 3L routes will be brought back.

“It wasn’t a perfect system,” Williams said. “But it was better than what we have now.”

7 route

Williams said students taking the 7 route, which services Kishwaukee Hospital and the Sycamore Road shopping areas, have complained in the past about long wait times due to the route’s hour-long circuit. Williams said a possible solution would be to create a remote bus line. The line in question would not make any stops downtown or on campus, but would simply circle the Sycamore Road shopping centers and Kishwaukee Hospital.

Plans to create a “grocery bus” are also in the works, Williams said.

“There are places on campus that don’t have direct access to a grocery store, like Greek Row and Varsity” Boulevard, Williams said. “This bus would stop at those places and go to shopping areas … with fewer intermediate stops.”

Bus tracking system

The tracking system, though it was state of the art when put in, “over the years has decayed poorly,” Williams said. A new system has been chosen and Mass Transit is working out legal and contract issues; when implemented, the system will show, via an app, the location of all buses in real time as well as the time remaining until a particular bus arrives at a stop.

“The official word is we’re working in the contract phase right now,” Williams said. “So, it’s going through legal, and it’s actually actively going through legal, it’s not just sitting around doing nothing. We have our advisers looking at it, we have the legal department looking at it, and they’re bouncing it back forth.”