Ryder takes the wheel for U

Heather Fors

Same buses, same faces, same fare. The only difference is in the name.
Workers at Medicine Lake Lines learned Friday morning that as of March 2, Ryder Student Transportation will take over the bus company. Medicine Lake Lines currently provides busing services to the University.
However, the University’s contract with the company will remain intact, said Cari Hatcher, a public relations representative for University Parking and Transportation Services.
“It should be seamless,” said Ron Bernstrum, president of Medicine Lake Lines. “It is a good business decision.”
Because Bernstrum wants to retire this year and there is no one else within the company to take it over, it was a good time to sell, he said.
The two companies have been discussing a buyout for about a year. “It’s two good companies making one stronger company,” Bernstrum said.
Ryder was the only company to approach Medicine Lake Lines with a merger proposal. Because of Ryder’s reputation, officials with Medicine Lake Lines didn’t talk to any other companies.
Bernstrum said the two companies have similar operation and management styles, and thus the marriage of the two will be smooth.
“We are thrilled with the opportunity to acquire this quality company,” said Jo Cacia, a representative for Ryder.
When the news was announced, there was initial concern that Medicine Lake drivers would be laid off. But officials said that because of a current shortage of metro area bus drivers, Ryder intends to retain all people currently working for Medicine Lake Lines. Cacia also said Ryder hopes to expand their services by hiring more drivers.
Ryder, which began serving the metro area in 1986, also bought out Hanus Bus Company in fall 1997.