Huskie Bus line adding two new hybrid buses in fall of 2009


The Huskie Bus line has gone green and is planning on being even greener in Fall 2009.

The Huskie buses are owned and operated by Veolia, an international transportation company based in France. The local DeKalb branch is operated by General Manager, Al Davis.

Every Huskie bus in the fleet runs on biodiesel fuel, and has been since last year, Davis said.

Expect to see two new hybrid buses in the fall of 2009. After that, “it depends on what the University wants to do,” he said.

“I love the fact that they are using biodiesel. I think the idea of using hybrids would be really great, because the busses are vehicles that run all day, but how much is it going to cost us?” said junior communications major Colleen Rielley.

The new Hybrids come with a price tag of $500,000, according to Davis, and it isn’t clear if NIU and Veolia will add any more after the first two.

The Huskie buses come in two different models all manufactured by Gillig, a bus company that makes commuter buses like the Huskie Buses and school buses.

The older model, Gillig Phantom, started being produced in 1980. The second model, Gillig Low Floor, has been produced since 1997. These are the new models that have a low floor in the front to better assist those riders who need to use the wheelchair ramp. The Low Floor will actually kneel close to the ground allowing passengers on the ramp to have easier access onto the bus.

According to Davis, the NIU Huskie Line has switched to the Low Floor model and expects not to add any more Phantoms.

The older Phantoms have a much darker exhaust, and this, according to Davis, is why they are not being used as much during the summer, along with just being older.

Veolia has been operating in DeKalb since 1971 and services approximately 2 million students, staff and residents per year. The Huskie Bus Line started with six buses and has grown to a fleet of fifteen buses running during peak times. The cost of running the line is paid in full by the Student Association and fare boxes, according to Huskie Bus Line Web site.