A little history here. Prior to my moving to Riverside (although I don't know when), UCR Transportation and Parking Services used to run a night-time-only Dial-a-Ride van on campus. It ran Monday-Thursday evenings, and would take students to any point on campus or to any off-campus apartments served by the then-operating Highlander Hauler system. (At the time, this included all of the apartments in the University and Canyon Crest areas.)
For the 2004-2005 school year, TAPS did something different- they introduced the Bear Runner late-night shuttle service. Providing half-hour service, it ran essentially the present Route 53 schedule and route, but it had one serious drawback-- the gentleman who drove it thought of his job as "taking students home from campus," and would only drive the route all the way around if he picked up somebody on campus, or if he knew somebody would be waiting. I've been stranded by that policy more than once.
Needless to say, when the RTA picked up the route and actually started *running* it, it was a substantial improvement. The half-hourly service is the only public transit service between Montclair and Las Vegas that runs past 10pm. During the school year, its presence gives my neighborhood 21-hour-a-day transit service. And so, of course, RTA is going to cancel it.
The route is, admittedly, only lightly-used-- but this isn't a service whose existence is ever justified based on ridership. It's always been funded by the campus primarily as a safety service, allowing students studying late at night to avoid walking home in the dark. Sadly, it appears that UCR no longer finds it "effective" at accomplishing that goal, and will be discontinuing the subsidy. With the subsidy, so goes the route.
I doubt that anything can be done to save the route-- it exists at the pleasure of UCR, and Parking Services is notoriously un-susceptible to influence. Still, I will mourn its loss, if only for freeing my social circle from having a designated driver while bar-hopping around campus. (It really should have run on Friday nights.)
If you'd like to rail ineffectively at RTA officials in an attempt to save the only late-night bus in Riverside, there are hearing details in this article.