Greyhound and beyond Transit hub: Plan to build a bus depot next to Amtrak's Penn Station is worth developing.

September 07, 1998

THE EXPLOSIVE growth of Maryland's commuter train patronage suggests that the arrival of around-the-clock rail service between Baltimore and Washington is just a matter of time. As the number and frequency of trains keep increasing, Amtrak's Penn Station will become even busier. That's why it makes sense to build a Greyhound bus station on vacant land next door and create a comprehensive transit hub for Baltimore.

This worthy proposal by Greyhound Lines and Amtrak ought to be explored for its tremendous potential. A transit center could cause problems with traffic congestion and vagrancy. But those resolvable concerns are nothing compared with the economic boost that a well-planned transit hub could bring to the Penn Station neighborhood.

Architects hired by Greyhound and Amtrak recently showed conceptual plans for an $8 million to $10 million bus terminal, garage and hotel complex that would be constructed on a triangular lot across from the old Chesapeake restaurant at Charles and Lanvale streets. The Greyhound depot would move there from West Fayette Street when its lease expires in two years.

The advantages of a Penn Station transit hub are numerous: For the first time, passengers could access Amtrak, MARC, light rail, buses and taxis from under one roof and make transfers between various modes of transportation. The hub's location, next to the Jones Falls Expressway and ample parking, would also be pluses.

And if the lot proposed by architects for the complex is not large enough, a former post office complex nearby could be acquired to provide more space and flexibility.

Despite a face-lift and improvements some years ago, Penn Station is a frumpish gateway to Baltimore. "I've never seen a train station as lifeless," complains Charles Smith, a neighbor.

The surrounding area shows some signs of verve. The Charles Theatre is expanding into a five-screen art house. Nearby Everyman Theatre has developed a loyal following for its stage productions. The Penn Station transit hub proposal would complement these efforts to turn the area around.

Pub Date: 9/07/98

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