COLUMBIA — Greyhound Lines Inc. is seeking a 10-year contract with the city of Columbia to use Wabash Station as its Columbia terminal.
Greyhound currently has a station on Big Bear Boulevard for trips to and from Columbia, but is looking to move to Wabash Station, in downtown Columbia, to cut costs.
Greyhound estimates the city would make $54,522 per year in commissions and sales, according to a report to the Columbia City Council from Public Works Director John Glascock.
During the City Council's Tuesday night meeting, Mayor Bob McDavid directed the Public Works Department staff to negotiate a contract with Greyhound and to bring it back to the council for approval.
Wabash Station is a more convenient location and a move would be a big service to the community, especially to lower income people, First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt said.
Greyhound is looking to eliminate its franchise contracts with local individuals and instead use existing transit customer service employees, according to the report. The proposal is a part of a nation-wide effort by Greyhound to cut expenses.
A potential roadblock is the different hours that Wabash Station and Greyhound operate.
“Greyhound operates at night and on Sundays when transit does not,” department spokeswoman Jill Stedem said.
“It could be that we would need additional staff, or they have the understanding that customers would not have access to the building when transit is not in operation. But it depends on Greyhound’s needs and expectations.”
A move could also create problems with available space for customers.
“There are times of the day when Wabash Station would be busier with the increase in passengers,” Stedem said. “The lobby is packed with people, especially during the holidays when Megabus traffic comes into or leaves the station.”
Wabash Station serves as a drop-off and pick-up location for Megabus, an intercity bus service, though the station is not officially affiliated with Megabus.
The Greyhound station, at 611A Big Bear Blvd., sees an average of 25 passengers that originate in Columbia every day and 171 passengers that pass through Columbia daily, according to the report.
John Miles, a Jefferson City resident, picks relatives up from the Columbia station a few times a year because there is no terminal in Jefferson City. He said the move would create temporary confusion.
“The current bus stop is easier to locate than downtown,” he said.
However, he said he supports the move because in the long run, the downtown location would be more secure.
Others also backed the potential move.
Jeri Phillips, an elementary teacher for Columbia Public Schools, expected the Greyhound station to be at Wabash Station in the first place. She was surprised to learn it was on Big Bear Boulevard when she was looking online for its location. Phillips said having Wabash Station as the terminal would be better for Greyhound customers.
“I believe the move would be good, as the Wabash Station is currently set up as a bus station,” Phillips said at the Greyhound station on Monday afternoon. “Buses can drive into the station easily and with the exterior lights it feels like it would be a little bit safer for passengers at nighttime."
Don Winfrey, who lives in the Lake of the Ozarks, recently dropped off a friend at the current Greyhound station and questioned the safety of the area.
“It gets spooky at night because it’s isolated,” he said. “A move to downtown would probably be more secure.”
Greyhound plans to have five buses arriving and departing Wabash Station every day if the proposal is approved.