Greyhound, Amtrak consider plans for urban transit center 'Intermodal terminal' would link Penn Station to proposed bus depot

September 01, 1998|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

Greyhound Lines has joined Amtrak to explore the physical and economic feasibility of constructing in Baltimore the latest form of urban transit center -- an "intermodal terminal" that would bring together five kinds of transportation in one location.

Architects hired by Greyhound and Amtrak showed Baltimore's Design Advisory Panel conceptual plans last week for an $8 million to $10 million bus terminal and garage that would be constructed on a triangular lot north of Pennsylvania Station.

The terminal would replace Greyhound's bus station at 210 W. Fayette St., a leased facility that is targeted for demolition as part of the city's plan to redevelop downtown's west side.

Because the terminal would be connected to the train station and light rail line by a sky bridge over the train tracks, it would enable passengers to ride local and intercity buses, Amtrak and Maryland Rail Commuter service trains, light rail, taxis and private cars and to move easily from one mode of transportation to another. Preliminary plans by Design Collective of Baltimore call for other uses within the complex, including shops, food service and perhaps a small, business-oriented hotel.

"Our hope is to get people out of their cars and onto buses," said Greyhound Lines architect David Grubbs. "That's the goal."

Greyhound's Fayette Street bus station serves about 1,100 passengers a day. Six hundred of them start their trips in Baltimore.

Seventy-six buses a day pass through Baltimore during the summer, a number that drops to 52 other times of the year.

Around the nation, Greyhound has 76 intermodal facilities, including terminals in Boston, Phoenix and Syracuse, N.Y.

Representatives say they hope to see local ridership increase with a facility near Baltimore's train station.

"What we're trying to do is give people a nice, safe, comfortable place to ride buses and marry it with transportation to the airport, trains, light rail, heavy rail, city buses and taxis," said Greyhound district manager Raymond Robinson.

"Our passengers like it when we do that," he said.

Owned by Amtrak and used for employee parking, the 1.6-acre parcel is bounded by West Lanvale and St. Paul streets and the train tracks.

According to Design Collective architect Luis Bernardo, the preliminary plan calls for nine berths for buses run by Greyhound and Capitol Trailways, plus ticketing and retail areas at street level and offices for Greyhound and its Package Express service.

Above the ticketing and boarding areas would be a four-level garage with space for 350 to 450 cars. On the St. Paul Street side would be a five- to eight-story building that could contain housing, offices or a hotel. One-stop ticketing for trains and buses would be available.

Christopher Weeks, senior director of commercial development for Amtrak, said the team plans to seek bids within 90 days from developers interested in building on Amtrak's land and leasing space to Greyhound and others.

Amtrak will select a development team to work with by early next year, Weeks said.

Weeks and the Greyhound representatives said they would like to begin construction in time to open the terminal by the end of 2000, when Greyhound's lease expires on Fayette Street.

Members of the design panel were enthusiastic about the plan.

"It's a terrific project," said panel member Walter Ramberg.

"What you've got is very sensible," agreed Phoebe Stanton. "It's a very good idea."

Ted Feldman, a representative of Charles-North Community Association, said neighbors were apprehensive about the project when they first heard about it and expressed their concerns to the architects.

"I think they listened to the community very carefully and ended up with a project that's better than they started with," he said.

Pub Date: 9/01/98

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