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There was an eerie feel at the Butte Street Greyhound bus station today. Lights were turned off. The iconic blue “Bus” signs hung, serving no purpose. Nary a passenger lingered outside the building.
Greyhound Lines Inc. closed the Butte Street terminal today and shifted all routes to the downtown Redding Area Bus Authority (RABA) terminal.
The Butte Street location opened in 1953. In May, RABA board members voted to integrate the services at the downtown RABA location.
Bonnie Bastian, a Greyhound spokesperson, said the reason for combining services is because “it’s an intermodal transportation facility, which means there are various forms of transportation going through that station. It’s easier for customers to utilize.”
Zach Bonnin, the city’s transportation planner, said talks of moving the Greyhound lines to the RABA terminal have been going on since the RABA terminal was constructed in the 1990s.
“The City of Redding aimed to have all forms of transport in one central location. We have always forseen that Greyhound and Amtrack would be part of the (downtown RABA) facility,” said Bonnin, mentioning bus lines from Alturas, Susanville and the Trinity Coast come through the terminal.
In 2009, some 19,000 passengers ventured through Redding on Greyhound busses. RABA’s ridership is around 600,000 annually, with most routes going through the downtown terminal, Bonnin said.
It rings true that with change comes controversy. The merger carries consequences for businesses and riders alike.
“I almost got balloons,” said Lisa Hoeft of Wave Lengths Hair Studio, a neighbor of the Butte Street station.
Because of vandalism, the lobby of the Butte Street terminal was open only a few hours, leaving passengers no choice but to linger outside.
Hoeft recounted tales of the Greyhound terminal regulars. It was common practice for Greyhound passengers to loiter outside Wavelengths and surrounding businesses and disrupt the clientele – anything from smoking pot in the walkway to inebriated disturbances, from begging her clients for money to abuse of the salon’s restrooms.
“It was scary at times. Every day there was somebody drunk and passed out,” she said, mentioning she has seen prostitution, drug deals and other acts of ill repute take place at the former terminal.
“The best part is that the inmates out of prison won’t be loitering as much. It’s rare you see clean, decent people coming off that bus. This is gonna be a huge plus for us.”
But not all neighboring businesses were adversely affected.
Rachel Fasolini, who owns Fasolini’s Pizza and Espresso (1419 Market St.) with her husband Ken, recounted a more tempered experience.
“The bus drivers used to eat in here. Some of the people riding the bus weren’t the top choice, but my husband’s big, Italian, and intimidating,” Fasolini said.
Like many, Fasolini is curious to know what will happen to the Butte Street building. “It’s got kind of an art deco look. It would be neat to see somebody put something in there.”
Rumors have already crept into conversation. Some mentioned a park will be installed, others say the building will be transformed into a homeless shelter.
According to Bastian and Timothy Stokes, another spokesperson for Greyhound, there is currently no plan for the future of the building.
“We don’t know yet what’s happening to the terminal,” Bastian said. “We’re looking at a few options. We could lease it, we could sell it. We could do a few things, but we haven’t made a decision yet.”
City planner Bonnin said otherwise. According to him, Greyhound is looking to place the building on the market.
“I know they want to sell it. I think they’re in discussions to place it on the market, but I don’t know their time frame,” he said, mentioning also there have been talks between Greyhound and downtown business developers.
Riders of RABA busses are split on the decision. Some, like Lynda Burnett, applaud the change.
“I think it’s a great idea. It’s lit up here and there’s some shelter,” she said.
Robert Khales, who has ridden RABA for 13 years, agrees. “It’s a good idea because you can get to all the bus stations at one time. The old Greyhound was only open six hours a day, anyhow. I was always giving directions to the other bus station. Now it’s right here,” Khales said.
Others remain more skeptical.
“It seems to me they didn’t think much about the planning. The facilities are just not ready here for the RABA, let alone the Greyhound busses, too. They should have stayed at the other location until they were ready here,” rider Bill Osborne said. “There aren’t enough restroom facilities as it is; where are people supposed to go in the middle of the night?”
Bonnin said the city is working with Greyhound to make some additions to the downtown terminal. The city has currently secured $180,000 in federal money and is applying for an additional $120,000 next year.
“We need to get the design done, which we should have done in the next few weeks. We wanted to get Greyhound to be in place and operating before we finalized a design,” Bonnin said.
Tentative plans include a temperature controlled lobby, more internal storage and additional vending and coffee machines.
RABA rider Paul Davis anticipates the benches will become sleeping areas for the homeless. “All they’ll have to do is say they’re waiting for a bus,” Davis said, hinting at a potential increase in vandalism.
“It’s gonna bring a lot of drinking over here. A lot of drugs, too,” said Debra Osborne, also waiting on a bus stop bench. “I’m not gonna feel safe here anymore. Somebody’s gonna get hurt,” she said, mentioning some Greyhound passengers are released convicts who pose potential threats.
“People down here have a hard enough time watching their kids as it is. What are they gonna do when there’s convicts here? It’s just too damn small for all of this.”
The downtown terminal is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., includes two restrooms and is monitored by an on-site security company from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly. Also, the security guards can open the Amtrack lobby for late night travelers and during inclement weather.
City planners also accounted for additional vehicle parking. There are parking spots set for Greyhound busses, and any repairs to those busses will be completed at an off-site location.
Also, Greyhound’s busiest days are Sundays and Holidays. “RABA doesn’t operate Sundays or holidays,” Bonnin said. “It’s actually going to work out pretty well.”
Joshua Corbelli likes to write stuff on paper, and that makes him a happy little jellybean. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or don’t. Your call.
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