Thumbs-up: To adding efficiency to public transportation. Northern Illinois University trustees on Thursday approved providing money for integrating its transit system into the system serving the rest of DeKalb. The university agreed to contribute as much as $3 million toward the operation of local bus service. That’s less than the $4 million the university typically spends on Huskie Line service. Students and NIU employees will be able to ride without paying a fare. There are details still pending – including how to ensure that the city-run service remains responsive to the needs of the university community – but those issues can be worked out. Of critical importance is conserving resources, and a potential $1 million savings would be a boon for NIU.
Thumbs-down: To the loss of a local restaurant. On Wednesday, Applebee’s announced it had closed its DeKalb location at 2411 Sycamore Road in the Oakland Place shopping center. The chain restaurant opened there in January 1996, but the company’s fortunes have declined of late, with Applebee’s announcing earlier this year it planned to close 80 stores this year, after it shuttered 100 in 2017. The DeKalb location, it appears, made the list this time. We hope that the employees there can find other jobs, and that another restaurateur will be found to occupy the high-visibility location in the near future, as was the case with Chili’s coming in to take over the space vacated by Ruby Tuesday, just a little farther west on Sycamore Road.
Thumbs-up: To our local Most Valuable Athletes. Shaw Media hosted its inaugural Most Valuable Athlete awards ceremony at the NIU Convocation Center on Wednesday, recognizing high-performing athletes from around northern Illinois and awarding a $1,000 scholarship through a random drawing. Three DeKalb girls took home top honors in their sport. DeKalb’s Hannah Oehlberg, the Daily Chronicle’s girls volleyball player of the year, and the badminton team of Helene Collin and En-Tso Liou were named most valuable athletes in their sport. Congratulations to them, and to all of those who competed this year representing our area’s high schools.
Thumbs-up: To a plan for new high-speed transportation. On Thursday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and entrepreneur Elon Musk announced plans for a high-speed transit system that will use electric vehicles to take people from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to downtown in 12 minutes. The trip typically takes 40 to 45 minutes on the CTA’s Blue Line. Musk's The Boring Co. will build and fund the project. We’re interested in advancements that will help us move around faster. Building a new transit network starts small and builds out, and we'd love to see how new technology can take us places faster. It’s interesting to imagine a day when downtown Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis or beyond could be quickly accessible from DeKalb County.