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Closure of Route 52 “Really Gets My Goat”

August 10th, 2014

RGRTA announced that it would pull the plug on cross-town route 52.
Many transit loving Rochesterians, put off by the RTS “hub and spoke” system, have long clamored for the convenience of crosstown routes. The new Route 52 answered those calls by connecting the Park Ave neighborhood with the University of Rochester Medical Center (via Goodman and Elmwood) without having to stop and transfer downtown. The new route had many of us excited external link.

But after less than a year of service, RGRTA said Route 52 drew too few customers external link to keep it going. And a little over a week ago, RGRTA announced that it would pull the plug…

The new Route 52 answered those calls by connecting the Park Ave neighborhood with the University of Rochester Medical Center (via Goodman and Elmwood) without having to stop and transfer downtown.
Of course, the customers who started using #52—many of whom gave up their coveted parking spot at UofR—are now left feeling abandoned and frustrated. One of these riders wrote a letter to RGRTA, and asked me to share it here in the hopes that others would feel inclined to do the same…

Hey RochesterSubway

The abrupt closing of Route 52 is really getting my goat. I’m shocked and dismayed that RGRTA didn’t say anything before closing a route that does provide service to people and without trying to do anything. I wrote the below letter to RGRTA. I was wondering if you could do a post about the closing of 52 and why RGRTA hasn’t seemed to do anything to help it before making this announcement, and if you could try encouraging people to write in in protest?

Dear RGRTA,

I am dismayed by the sudden announcement of discontinuing Route 52. I understand your stated reasons, such as the fact that the route has low ridership and is losing money.

However, I question why it is being decommissioned with 30 days notice. With the leadup to the transit center, you’ve been holding meetings and soliciting feedback for route changes. Why did you not start such a process for 52 before it became this bad? Why not have the same types of meetings and open houses as you had for route 4, where you could solicit feedback from riders? Why not trial changes such as reducing some lesser ridden times, or making it a little less frequent than every 30 minutes? Why not try to work with the community to improve route, rather than just letting it suffer quietly and with no word, leaving riders like myself startled and confused when the closure was announced.

Another question: why not wait until the College Town construction is done to see how that might affect ridership? College Town is supposed to draw more people to that area for living, working, and spending money, and given Park Ave’s popularity, the easy tie between the two would seem appealing. Ridership might have declined in the summer when it’s nice to bike, but perked back up as it gets colder and the bus becomes more appealing.

I really enjoyed taking a single line to and from work on every weekday, and having easy access to Wegmans and stores on weekends. I’m really disappointed that nothing about 52 being in danger was communicated before the shutdown. I realize there’s likely nothing my words can do to keep it open, but I hope that in the future, before RGRTA discontinues a route, that they’ll make some more noise about the subject and work with the population it serves earlier.

Sincerely,
Quinn Avery

• • •

Write to RGRTA:

If you would like to express your thoughts or opinions about Route 52, please write to RGRTA using this contact form external link.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 10th, 2014 at 11:33 pm and is filed under Opinion, Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

11 Responses to “Closure of Route 52 “Really Gets My Goat””

  1. Ken says:

    Hop a 1 and transfer to one of the 3+ buses that go to UR/strong already. Thought this was a nonsense bus and stated so on RTS website when announced. Add a bus to the best served destination in the city. You can still ride the bus to work, you just have to ride with us non UR employees.

  2. Adrian Martin says:

    “why not wait until the College Town construction is done to see how that might affect ridership?”

    That is a great point.

  3. Adrian Martin says:

    I just mapped it on Google Maps. 1000 Park Ave to Strong takes 19 minutes on the 52. Taking the #1 downtown and transferring to the #5 takes 46 minutes.

    An extra 27 minutes, each way, on your commute? 54 minutes a day, every day? I’d be pissed too.

  4. Erika says:

    The lack of communication is what is really annoying here. I heard rumblings about RTS discontinuing the bus and less than a week before the official announcement was made, I posted on their facebook wall with my own disappointment. RTS responded with, “Nothing has been decided yet…” post. Clearly they were lying or the higher ups weren’t keeping their PR folks informed.

  5. Quinn says:

    @Adrian: that’s exactly why this is frustrating. Yes, it’s possible to transfer. However, transferring is an extra financial cost and adds twice the time. That’s why I wrote this letter.

  6. Quinn says:

    @Ken: I’m actually going from the Strong area to the Park area, and I’m not a UR employee. I’m just someone who stopped having to take a transfer when 52 was added, and now I’ll have to transfer and add on 25 extra minutes, and I would have been more happy with this if they had held an open house or communicated in some manner with us before dropping the closure. Why do other routes get an open house but not 52?

  7. Ben says:

    Too bad we don’t have a working subway like in New York City or Boston. It was so easy to travel anywhere in the city without being concerned about where to park or being stuck in traffic. It cost $2.50 per ride which is cheaper than a cab. Think about wanting to go Downtown Friday night and you live outside of the city. Just so happens there’s a subway that runs 24hrs a day and goes downtown. Also hey I want to go to the Public Market but parking is a bitch saturday morning. Why not take the subway? It’s a shame the city closed down a potential jewel. Imagine if the subway ran to all the suburbs and you didn’t have to drive into work every morning… I think if someone came up with an economically feasible way to bring it back then it would boost downtown as a place to go once again. With all these great ideas to restore the city to its former glory (i.e. City Gate) the only thing the city really lacks is transportation. Well you could ride the RTS and transfer to your destination downtown. Just bring a good book since it will take an hour or more for a 15 minute trip.

  8. kmannkoopa says:

    Knowing how long RGRTA has spent on simple things like optimizing bus stops, it makes me wonder if this cancellation isn’t a game of chicken with the U of R…

  9. Urban Explorer says:

    It’s not fair to assess route ridership after only one year. It takes time, especially in an auto-dominated region like Rochester, for people to change their transportation habits. RGRTA should have budgeted at least 3 years to test Route 52, and stuck it out regardless of ridership. And since the development of hundreds of thousands of square feet of new, dense, compact, walkable, transit oriented development (i.e. Collegetown) may have some impact on ridership, this service should have been evaluated AFTER Collegetown opens.

    This route should have been promoted and marketed as “Park Avenue-Monroe Village-Swillburg-Collegetown;” a connector for several southeast urban neighborhoods, not just “Wegmans to URMC.” That made it seem too much like a commuter service for medical center employees. As someone not officially associated with U of R (therefore unable to take the U of R Orange Line) but has occasion and/or desire to be there fairly often, 52 was a great service that will be missed.

    Also I’m very disappointed with RGRTA’s lack of outreach on this decision, particularly since they seem to be having all sorts of other open houses and public meetings.

  10. Quinn says:

    All of @UrbanExplorer’s points are great. I hope you sent those in to RGRTA.

  11. This “… RGRTA said Route 52 drew too few customers external link to keep it going. …” actually is a problem that bedevils all route-bound public transport systems. Their stewards often (most times!) fail to see that the whole thing is a system and a web and if you cut one part away this will have consequences reverberating through the whole system. If for example someone’s mots needed route falls away, he/she generally chooses private transport. Once that decision has been taken, then they won’t revert back to using the route once it were re-opened. BUT they will also use less of the existing routes. After all: if you were travelling by bus or tram and then wanted to get, after A to B, to C, you would naturally choose the same means of transport. Had you taken your car with you, you would of course then take it from B to C as well. No sense in traveling from B (where you last left your car, coming from A) and going to C by public transport only to then having, maybe late at night and with no operator going back, to again pick up your car at B. Which is why such public transport systems must open a route and then STICK WITH IT for around the time that behavioral psychologists will tell you it takes to form a new habit in humans and for maybe even as long as it takes for the old car to be out of service. Then, IF you are operating attractive routes, that person will maybe abandon the car completely. But only if the public option is attractive. Changing things every so often convinces people all the more of keeping their car as a ready option and will always destroy the ROI of new routes!


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