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April 10, 2010

 

County wants new bus station location

Committee authorizes letter to be sent to Greyhound giving it 90 days to find new stop

BusJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Passengers board and depart an Adirondack Trailways bus in downtown Cortland Friday at the County Office Building.

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

Complaints about blocked traffic in front of the Cortland County Office Building have prompted county officials to request Greyhound bus lines to find another bus stop within 90 days.
The county’s Agriculture Planning and Environment Committee voted 5-2 Thursday to direct County Planning Department Director Dan Dineen to write a letter to Greyhound bus lines.
Legislator Danny Ross (R-Cortlandville) was opposed. Legislator Tom Hartnett (D-4th Ward) was absent.
Some officials are uncomfortable with the request.
Ross questioned whether the complaints merited such a move, saying he would like to see the complaints in writing.
Hartnett said he thinks the county has no alternative location for the bus stop.
But legislator Sandy Price (D-Harford and Virgil) said she has received complaints over the past six weeks, about traffic being blocked for up to 20 minutes because of parked buses.
The problem is caused by eastbound buses stopping in the driving lane to load and unload passengers, creating traffic jams, said Dineen.
The buses should be stopping in the westbound lane, at the designated bus stops, he said. Dineen said the eastbound lane has parking spaces for cars and is too narrow to accommodate a stopped bus.
But legislator Dave Fuller (R-Cincinnatus, Taylor, Freetown and Willet), who is himself a bus driver for the Ithaca-based Swarthout coaches and tours, said the bus drivers have no choice but to double park given the location of the stop.
“There has got to be some place a bus station can be put in the city of Cortland and it should not be intertwined with the Cortland transit system. That is why buses are double parking,” Fuller said.
The Central Avenue bus stop was supposed to be a temporary location for the bus line, since the former location at the First Transit offices on the predominately residential Squires Street was problematic. The station was moved in early May 2008 to Squires Street from a Grant Street site that had been used since 1997 after the Grant Street site lease was not renewed.
Less than a month later, the bus stop was moved to the County Office Building because Squires Street was too narrow and residents were bothered by passengers who were waiting for buses on their lawns, Dineen said.
“It was moved to the County Office Building as a temporary solution until they were able to find a new location but it doesn’t appear they have been actively searching for a new location,” Dineen said.
Spokesperson for FirstGroup America, which owns the Greyhound line, Timothy Stokes, said the company has not received any concerns about the service in Cortland County.
“We will continue to serve the community with regular schedules and respond accordingly if any concerns are raised in the future,” Stokes said.
Stokes said the company would “evaluate all the concerns” before moving locations.
Ideally a bus stop would have a ticket sales counter, said Dineen, which the Central Avenue stop lacks. The Squires Street location had that at the First Transit offices but now when passengers take the bus they must buy a ticket from the driver.
Dineen said a possible solution would be to place the bus stop at the Riverside Plaza, an option that was considered in 2008.
The owner of Riverside Plaza, Empire Management, would consider leasing space at the plaza to Greyhound for a terminal, said an Empire Management representative, Ron Rinaldo.
“If Greyhound wanted to lease space in the plaza and set up an office, we would be more than happy to deal with them on that. I don’t see it as being bad for the plaza, it would be just another service there,” Rinaldo said.
Fuller advocates turning the abandoned gas station at the intersection of River Street and Clinton Avenue, outside the Ramada Cortland motel into a bus station, saying such a move would encourage more people to use the buses.
Fuller said that without a bus station in the city to properly handle the passengers, “making them move is just moving the location of the problem.”
Hartnett sat on the committee that moved the bus stop from Squires Street to Central Avenue in 2008, saying the move was necessary. Hartnett said he is concerned that without an alternative location the bus stop will end up back on Squires Street, which he said was a dangerous situation.
Without an alternative location, Hartnett said the bus stop should remain outside the County Office Building, calling it a logical location because it is in the middle of the city.

 

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