Parking shuttle rides empty

By Lesley Rogers

The newly installed NIU faculty and staff parking shuttle has been driving around campus fairly empty for the past month.

Campus Parking Services provides faculty and staff with a shuttle service, picking up from the remote parking lot W, north of Grant Towers, and dropping off at various points on campus.

However, the bus has been running since March with very few riders.

“Admittedly, there has not been a lot of use. As of right now, the lots that we were to lose, lot 15 and five, have not yet undergone construction for the parking structure and Campus Life Building,” said Gary Vander Meer, NIU parking committe chair.

“The shuttle service probably won’t be utilized for a while. Right now we are just getting people used to the idea of an alternative parking situation,” Vander Meer said.

The shuttle service is free to all NIU faculty and staff, and construction workers also have the opportunity to purchase a blue parking permit and ride the shuttle. So far, there have not been any construction workers to buy a permit, he said.

Campus Parking Services rents the shuttles from the transportation department and is charged an hourly rate based on fuel, bus maintenence, drivers and other costs.

“There is no charge for faculty and staff. Costs are paid out of the money generated by the cost of parking sticker fees,” said Bill Finucane, manager of transportation at NIU.

“To my knowledge, the price for parking permits will not go up,” Finucane said.

Currently, the shuttle averages about 20 riders a day, but attendance is expected to increase when construction starts.

“Construction will start when the contractors want and are able to begin. Around the third week in April is when we expect lot 15, the new parking structure to undergo construction. The demolition of the buildings, where the Campus Life Building will be, probably won’t start until after classes are out,” Vander Meer said.

The parking committe is not certain if the parking shuttle will be needed over the summer.

“If we can get by without using the shuttle over the summer, we will. However, we are flexible and if there is a need during summer school and during orientation then we will use the buses,” Vander Meer said.