It’s official: Route 52 to run for at least another year

Lynne Kozarek

University bus Route 52 was resurrected Wednesday when the University decided to keep it up and running without changes into 1998, with the city paying for about half the cost.
Route 52 services will continue uninterrupted into 1998, but because of an addendum to a recent contract between the University and Medicine Lake Lines, that bus service will run only four lines instead of the eight it formerly operated. The Metropolitan Council Transit Operations will now run the remaining four.
Cari Hatcher, public relations representative for Parking and Transportation Services, said the University’s decision to split the route between two services was a financial decision.
“MCTO will be the service provider for four of the routes,” Hatcher said. “They will be paying for them and using MCTO buses.”
Hatcher also said the funding for Medicine Lake Lines’ remaining four routes will cost an estimated $250,000 to $350,000 and will be taken out of Parking and Transportation Services’ budget.
However, there is no word yet if parking rates will be rising. The option was discussed at a meeting the first week of May, but the decision will be made by University Vice President for Finance and Operations JoAnne Jackson within the next few weeks.
Bob Gibbons, director of customer services at the Metropolitan Council, said they are happy to be operating part of the Route 52 service.
“We have always said we would enjoy operating the route,” Gibbons said. “We will do as well or better than Medicine Lake Lines in terms of operating this service.”
In February, MCTO was slated to take over the entire Route 52 service, but planned to make cutbacks in doing so. The plan was met with disfavor by much of the route’s vocal ridership. MCTO’s offer to handle and finance half the service now, without cutbacks, might be an attempt to remedy that earlier misstep.
Many members of the University community who frequently ride bus Route 52 are also delighted Parking and Transportation Services has decided to continue the service.
Elizabeth Belfiore, professor of classical and Near Eastern studies and frequent Route 52 passenger, said she hopes the University will find a way to continue the service well beyond 1998.
“It seems they’ve been listening to those of us who want the service to continue,” Belfiore said. “It is good policy for the University to be supporting public transportation.”