[fcb-l] Sarasota Greyhound Bus Station Closes
Gbhgirl at aol.com
Gbhgirl at aol.com
Mon Nov 1 19:09:50 GMT 2010
It was a sad day when I learned of the Greyhound Bus Station closing.
Below is an article by a North Port Sun Herald reporter. Hopefully, this
article will inform Sarasota County Commissioners and other officials about what
is going on with Greyhound and how it impacts people's lives..
County ‘missing the boat ... er, the bus’
Greyhound may see Sarasota as ‘a prime location for travel’
By ED SCOTT
SARASOTA COUNTY — A Sarasota-area resident for 50 years, Barbara Grill
came here from Philadelphia.
“I always traveled on Greyhound and Trailways until Trailways departed
sometime in the 1970s,” Grill wrote recently in an e-mail. “Most of my
travels were between Florida cities — Sarasota to Tampa, Tallahassee, St. Pete,
Naples or Daytona. Greyhound had always been a reliable service for me.”
But the circumstances are different now.
“Imagine my shock when I learned early this year, while trying to
schedule another trip, that the Sarasota Greyhound bus station had
closed,” said Grill, 72, who hasn’t driven for 40 years due to an eye disease.
“As I recall, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach, hearing that
terrible news. Instantly, I realized that we who reside in Sarasota, and
do not drive, are isolated and locked in with no inter-city transportation
options. It is a terrible feeling. I know that I cannot stay in a place that
has no good transportation options to the outside world.”
Greyhound Bus Lines first came to Sarasota and Charlotte counties in the
late 1930s or early 1940s, the company says. But since last year, when
Greyhound left downtown Sarasota because its lease expired for a station on U.S.
301 at Sixth Street, many Sarasota County residents who have wanted to “Go
Greyhound” have been forced to go first to Bradenton, the nearest station
to the north.
But Grill says it costs $45 to take a taxi one way to that Greyhound “
agency,” a franchise station in downtown Bradenton. The company still offers
service at an agency — the Shell station at 900 Kings Highway in Port
Charlotte — and a bus stop at 26505 N. Jones Loop Road in Punta Gorda.
Since March, Sarasota County officials have been working to bring the bus
line back to Sarasota. Greyhound’s long-term solution in Sarasota County
may be the new Cattleman-Bahia Vista transfer station, scheduled for
completion in September 2011, Sarasota County Area Transit Senior Planner Sarah
Blanchard said. “They have contacted us and they are very interested in coming
back in, because they have heard from the riders that they need a stop in
Sarasota,” she said. Those negotiations broke down for an unspecified
reason, according to Greyhound spokesman Timothy Stokes.
However, Greyhound is open to more discussions, he said.
“We’d want a location that accommodates both the company and our
passengers. We could see it (Sarasota) as a prime location for travel.” With the
Kings Highway drop-off point so close to Interstate 75 in Port Charlotte,
Stokes is not aware of any plans to establish an agency in nearby North Port,
the largest city in Sarasota County. “That’s something they (company
officials) would have to review when evaluating the location,” he said.
On Monday, shortly after noon, the sky was blue in Port Charlotte as a
handful of passengers stood outside the Shell station, awaiting the northbound
Greyhound bus. Clement Barabash of San Francisco was going to New Orleans
to catch a plane home, after spending time here with his brother. Paul
Wedekind and Ben Lewis of northwest Pennsylvania were returning home after
attending a wedding. Emmanuel Desinor of Port Charlotte was headed to Alabama.
Wedekind, from Titusville, Pa., said his wife and daughter — who had time
constraints — flew down to Florida for $60 less than it cost him to go by
bus. “It’s nice that they are driving,” Wedekind said of his Greyhound
trip. “I think they could improve their equipment a little bit. When you are
going down the road and every time you go over a bridge and you hear metal
clanging on metal, that’s not good. But the newer ones (buses), they are nice
Last year, Greyhound introduced more than 100 new buses with free wireless
Internet, power outlets, extra leg room, leather seats and seat belts, in
Desinor, a native of Haiti who has lived in the United States for
about 20 years, says Greyhound is convenient. “I think it’s better
sometimes to take Greyhound,” he said. “Depending on where you go, it helps you
Barabash, a native of Brazil who spent a week in Port Charlotte, joked
that he likes Greyhound because “it’s slow. If you don’t really want to get
to where you’re going, take Greyhound.”
Sarasota County commissioners suggested that Greyhound establish a
short-term drop-off point at Sam’s Club or Lowe’s Home Improvement store, both in
the vicinity of where Fruitville Road and Interstate 75 meet. Staff will
review those locations and other possibilities, such as a former Amtrak
drop-off location on Clark Road, west of the interstate, Blanchard said.
Other than terminals, many Greyhound buses operate out of gas
stations, convenience stores and motels, Stokes said. He is not aware of
Greyhound stops at any Sam’s Club or Lowe’s around the country, but says, “
Every year we evaluate our routes and see where different agencies or stops
need to be implemented.”
Meanwhile, Grill says Amtrak, the federally funded train service,
serves Sarasota with its Thruway Motorcoach bus connections to the Tampa
and Orlando train stations. “I was a member of the Amtrak Customer Advisory
Committee for a number of years,” she said. “I rode trains throughout all
of the U.S. But primarily, we who do not drive rely upon bus service to get
to neighboring counties.”
Retired after owning a number of small businesses, Grill now is a member
of the Sarasota County Citizens Advisory Committee for Public
Transportation. She says there are alternatives to Greyhound, such as Orlando-based
RedCoach, which provides bus service between Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Gainesville,
Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale, Lake Worth and Atlanta.
Florencia Cirigliano, RedCoach marketing manager, says the company may
expand into Sarasota in 2011.
“If Greyhound will not service Sarasota, our elected officials should
explore this option for ‘public transportation’ deprived residents,” Grill
said. “We’re missing the boat ... ’er, missing the bus, in Sarasota, in
having to drive up to Bradenton,” Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton said
of many county residents’ shortest trek to a Greyhound station.
E-mail: _escott at sun-herald.com_ (mailto:escott at sun-herald.com)
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