Updated: Evanston aldermen to weigh Northwestern shuttle route


Patrick Svitek/Daily Senior Staffer

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) said Monday night that the Evanston Loop shuttle stop near the intersection of Sherman Avenue and Noyes Street is causing headaches for nearby residents. A subcommittee has been formed to take up their concerns.

Patrick Svitek, Summer Editor

A new Evanston City Council subcommittee will meet with University officials for the first time next month to address Northwestern’s shuttle route along Noyes Street.

The city’s Administration and Public Works Committee voted Monday night to form the panel including Alds. Judy Fiske (1st), Jane Grover (7th) and Delores Holmes (5th), whose wards have NU bus traffic. The subcommittee grew out of Fiske’s concerns about shuttles on Noyes Street between Sheridan Road and Sherman Avenue.

The two-block stretch is most used by the Evanston Loop shuttle, which runs between about 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. daily during the academic year.

Fiske said about 60 residents are “directly impacted” by often noisy students waiting at the shuttle stop near the intersection of Sherman Avenue and Noyes Street. For example, she said the front porch of a nearby home acts as the “staging area” for some riders.

“We love the students. We’re used to the students,” Fiske said. “They’re wonderful neighbors, but this is causing a problem for the neighborhood.”

City and University officials are also looking at consolidating the Evanston Loop stop with other stops across Sherman Avenue and changing the type of bus that operates along Noyes Street.

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz said NU is considering ending the route about two hours early and recommending students use SafeRide instead. Brian Peters, assistant vice president for University Services, confirmed Friday that NU is weighing shortening the service but stressed that no decisions have been made and school officials are “just throwing out ideas” at this point.

“All that’s very sensitive, and it’s not something you do quickly without considering everybody,” he said.

If the shuttle stopped operating closer to 1 a.m. than 3 a.m., Peters said NU would have to revamp SafeRide to accommodate more students in the early morning hours.

Fiske hinted at the route review after she read an anonymous letter from former Feinberg Prof. Mark Waymack at the City Council’s June 10 meeting. Wayback resigned from NU and put his house on sale in Evanston, writing to University President Morton Schapiro that he was “simply worn down” with student misbehavior.

(Professor’s resignation puts town-gown relations front and center)

In response to Waymack’s letter, Fiske suggested requiring homeowner consent when shuttle stops are placed within 20 feet of private residences.

In a June 28 letter, Eugene Sunshine, NU senior vice president  for business and finance, wrote to Ald. Ann Rainey (8th), chair of the Administration and Public Works Committee, that any proposal “requiring residents’ permission to place a shuttle stop … does not consider the needs of students and others riding the shuttles.” He pointed out that the shuttle system cuts down on car and foot traffic, air pollution and illegal parking, as well as “reduces the chance that a passenger may be assaulted.”

“We also question how such a proposal could practically be implemented and whether it is appropriate to effectively delegate key authority over the execution of a program having widespread benefits to individuals around the bus stops,” Sunshine said, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Daily.

City officials have signaled any legislation banning shuttle stops or routes in certain areas would be a last resort if NU is not receptive to suggested changes along Noyes Street.

“We are trying to avoid that if we can,” Bobkiewicz said Monday night.

The subcommittee’s first meeting is expected to be held the second week of September and include at least the three aldermen, Peters and Ron Nayler, NU associate vice president of Facilities Management. Associated Student Government said Friday night it is “taking steps to ensure the Northwestern voice is well-represented” on the subcommittee.

Summer editor Patrick Svitek can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/PatrickSvitek.