Local transit, Greyhound might share facility on South Avenue
It’s been a series of fits and starts to realize a joint GVT-Greyhound bus facility, but local transit officials decided Monday to at least apply for grant funding that could see the project come to fruition in either 2014 or 2015.
The concept being considered would combine the services of Grand Valley Transit and Greyhound at the GVT operation along South Avenue downtown.
Greyhound buses would circulate at the GVT Operations Center, technically located at 525 S. Sixth St. — a few blocks from Greyhound’s long-standing station at the corner of Ute Avenue and Fifth Street.
GVT would handle ticketing duties, as well as provide some basic food service and vending, along with restrooms for travelers.
Those additional responsibilities and services would mean additional revenue for GVT, estimated at $200,000 to $300,000, according to Todd Hollenbeck, Grand Valley Regional Transportation Committee manager.
He said that additional revenue could go toward capital improvements or replacements at GVT, or even toward operations at the local transit organization.
The GVT Operations Center — built in 2009 at a cost of $4 million, $3.2 milion of which was Colorado Department of Transportation funds — would need some alterations to accommodate Greyhound as a new roommate. Some remodeling would be necessary to meet the new ticketing requirements, and provide additional food service, vending and restroom facilities. There would also be new construction of about 2,000 square feet to create a larger waiting area for bus passengers, among other amenities.
Board members directed staff Monday to apply for state FASTER funds, which provide grants to local governments for transit projects.
The grants provide 80 percent of the funding amount requested, so GVT would end up providing $300,000 of the total $1.5 million under request.
Grant requests will be approved in the spring of 2013, and are for projects planned for either 2014 or 2015.
Greyhound has leased its current facility since the 1940s, Hollenbeck said, but the company has expressed an interest in moving to a new intermodal facility.
“I think they definitely see the advantage,” Hollenbeck said. “Any time you can connect directly with the local transit system … they’re trying to identify and coordinate those opportunities any chance they can.”
He said Greyhound recently has partnered with the city of Pueblo on a similar public- private partnership.
The new plans fit a broader vision for downtown Grand Junction as well, according to officials with the Downtown Development Authority.
“We’re very supportive of (GVRTC’s) pursuit of the concept,” said Harry Weiss, executive director of the DDA.
Weiss said the DDA identified the relocation of the bus terminal as a goal as far back as 1981, when the group’s original guiding development plans were first drafted.
The facility-sharing arrangement along South Avenue is the latest in a growing list of options that transit officials have considered for an intermodal station.
A plan to locate Greyhound and GVT at a new facility along 24 1/2 Road near Mesa Mall lost steam when neighbors in the area expressed concerns about Greyhound dropping off passengers in their area.
Another plan to locate Greyhound with Amtrak at the old train station was discarded because of site constraints, among other reasons.
An idea to locate Greyhound near the interstate, where at least two truck stops have been discussed, is also in the mix.
That was a major factor in transportation committee board chairman Steve Acquafresca tugging on the reins a bit regarding the project Monday.
Acquafresca expressed concern about “de-privatization” — or essentially having a government entity step in before all private-sector options were considered and dismissed.
He said the board would be in a better position to decide on the project after a business plan had been created, and after Greyhound had explored their options with the truck-stop operators who are considering locating near Exit 26 along Interstate 70.