For 17 years, Evelyn Lee has fought the good fight.
She's called dozens of meetings to rally the troops. She's made tons of phone calls. She's gathered hundreds of signatures on petitions, in rain and snow.
She's used every tactic she could think of achieve her goal, and now, after 17 years of battling the bureaucracy, she's finally won.
On Sept. 3, a Mass Transit Administration bus will run down Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park.
With the roar of the first bus through her community, Lee will see her dream come true.
"It's my main goal,hon," said Lee, 66, who has lived in Arundel Gardens on Cresswell Street since 1953. "People kept telling me, 'You'll never get a bus back here,' but I was determined. Something in my head kept saying, 'Don't give up.' "
"We're going to call it Mrs. Lee's bus," said Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, who has helped Lee for the past five years in her quest for bus service.
Helen Dale, manager of public relations for MTA, said the service had not been approved before now because of lack of potential ridership and lack of requests from citizens. The MTA finally decided to offer the service after being persuaded there was adequate need for it, particularly for the area's elderly population. It will monitor ridership to determine the level offuture service.
Without the service, people in Arundel Gardens, Lynnbrook, Sunnyfield Estates, Terrace View Estates and other area neighborhoods have had to walk to Ritchie Highway to catch a bus. Lee said that meant a 30- to 40-minute walk for many people, too far for many of the area's elderly or disabled residents.
"We have a lot of elderly people who live here," she said. "They have to get cabs now -- it costs them $5 or $6 just to go shopping."
Lee says she believes the new bus service will be used heavily, particularly by people wanting to shop in Baltimore and those needing to get to doctor's appointments.
"I'm sure everyone is going to be delighted," said MargeSchmitt, director of nursing at the Meridian Nursing Center-HammondsLane. She said many nursing center employees, as well as workers andpatrons of other businesses on Hammonds Lane, rely on bus transportation.
"This certainly will help us recruit employees," she said.
The Hammonds Lane service is being incorporated into the route of bus No. 64, which originates in Baltimore. The new route will run weston Hammonds Lane to Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard to Maple Road to Meade Road and then back down Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, before heading back eastbound on Hammonds Lane toward Ritchie Highway.
There will be five stops on Hammonds Lane going west and four stops eastbound.
The MTA plans to have a morning and afternoon trip Monday through Friday, MTA officials said. If use warrants it, additional runsmay be added.
The general fee to ride the bus is $1.10, or 40 cents for senior citizens with an MTA reduced-fare identification card.
Lee, president of the Arundel Gardens Improvement Association, said she plans to ride the first No. 64 down Hammonds Lane no matter what it takes. During the past five years, she has needed to use a wheelchair to get around because of rheumatoid arthritis of her spine.
"I hope and pray to God someone helps me down to that stop so I can get on that first bus," she said.