You Asked, We Listened: New Bus Route Built with URMC in Mind
College Town and a new Golisano Children's Hospital aren't the only big changes underway. As the region's largest employer, our continual growth is making our neighborhood become a major destination for people to work, play, and receive care.
But rapid growth can bring growing pains. Faculty, staff, and community residents alike acknowledge that commuting—and parking here—continues to pose challenges. Fortunately, exciting solutions are headed our way. Thanks to the collaborative planning efforts of University officials and the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, which operates Regional Transit Service (RTS) in Monroe County, we've been able to cobble together something we're especially proud of: A zippy new bus line that's now serving staff who live in nearby neighborhoods.
Say Hello to Route 52
This year, September ushered in something special: A new RTS route carrying Southeast-side Rochester riders across town.
Dubbed "Route 52: Park Ave to URMC," the 25-minute trip jogs back and forth between the new East Avenue Wegmans and Strong Memorial Hospital's front door (dropping folks directly at the Jackson Drive loop). Though open to the general public, the route (see schedule here) is especially convenient for staff residing along Park Avenue, Goodman Street, and Elmwood Avenue. They're now able to enjoy climate-controlled comfort for just $1 per trip (even less for multiple-use passes!)—no car, no parking, no hassle.
RTS Chief Executive Officer Bill Carpenter expressed his excitement about the bus route's recent launch.
"We've taken great care to partner with the University of Rochester in customizing Route 52, making sure it caters to the needs of University employees living in the area," he said. "It's the first public route we've ever planned right alongside UR leaders. Our key goals were to make it easy and affordable for staff to get to work safely—and on time."
Nervous about Giving up your Permit?
Good news: Becoming a bus-commuter isn't all or nothing. Staff who are leery to let go of their assigned parking permit can still retain the flexibility of driving in on some days by enrolling in our free Occasional Parker Program. At no charge, these drivers will receive individual hang tags to display on days when they need to bring a personal vehicle on campus. The program allows 26 opportunities to park on campus each year. The best part? It's commitment-free. If you change your mind about using public transportation, you'll be reinstated to your previous permit and parking location.
Still worried about emergencies, or needing to leave on a dime? We've thought ahead. UR's Parking and Transportation Services Department has you covered, promising all Occasional Parkers free rides home, in a jiffy, when they need it.
A Free Offer to Sweeten the Deal
Here's a final reason to give the new service a whirl: To celebrate the launch of Route 52, the medical center is offering 100 free bus passes for riders wanting to try it. Available now, these "unlimited" passes give you limitless rides on the route for any consecutive five days in September. The passes are free to current URMC permit holders, and will be available on a first-come-first-served basis at the medical center Parking Office. Don't delay!
More Changes in Store
Route 52 is just a foretaste of exciting transit improvements to come. Though still in the idea phase, RGRTA is exploring the potential for erecting new heated bus shelters that will be spread out at key locations around medical center, Elmwood and Mt. Hope locations to make hopping on the bus comfortable and secure when the weather is anything but agreeable.
According to Mary Ockenden, Associate Vice President and Director for Space Planning, these sorts of collaborative projects underscore the growing importance of alternative transit options to and from URMC.
"We're adamant about wiring this place in a way that makes mass transit a more convenient, more appealing option," she added. "It's green, it's convenient, and it's always been a priority for us. And with our new Parking and Transportation Director Hugh Kierig aboard (see sidebar), we look forward to some added momentum and expertise guiding our efforts."
Don't live in the areas served by Route 52? Check out other options for commuters at our Parking Office website.