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City of Knoxville exploring options for Greyhound bus stop

City of Knoxville officials are working with Grayhound Lines to find a solution for their current lack of a safe dedicated bus stop.
City of Knoxville officials are working with Grayhound Lines to find a solution for their current lack of a safe dedicated bus stop.
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 3:27 PM EDT|Updated: May. 11, 2022 at 6:09 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - City of Knoxville officials are working with Greyhound Lines to find a solution for its current lack of a safe, dedicated bus stop, Kristen Farley with the City of Knoxville told WVLT News.

Currently, Greyhound hosts a stop at the Cherry Street Marathon gas station. Bus riders get on and off busses at the location, and have expressed concern for their safety, especially when the gas station is closed.

“It’s appalling. I really don’t feel safe for him being down here in this location, but there’s no shelter, there’s no nothing. Thank goodness it’s bright and 60 degrees out today,” Michael Neidagh, a Greyhound customer, said.

City officials are working with the company to find a better solution. One proposal is for Greyhound to lease a space at the Knoxville Area Transit downtown center, but this solution would not fix every problem.

“KAT has evaluated the possibility of Greyhound leasing space at the downtown transit center, which was built for the specific purpose of supporting KAT operations,” Deputy to the Mayor Stephanie Welch said in a letter to Knoxville City Council. “The transit center does not have capacity to accommodate both KAT and Greyhound during KAT’s operational hours.”

This means that, even if Greyhound enters a partnership with KAT, they would only be able to use the center for nighttime routes. Instead, city officials advise Greyhound to move the stop to a 24-hour business.

Greyhound often partners with private businesses to offer pick-up and drop-off locations, but the current Cherry Street stop is not located at a 24-hour business. “We have provided recommendations and information Greyhound needs to help them find a more appropriate location for pick-up and drop-off to better serve the Knoxville community. We have recommended that Greyhound establish a service location at a partner business with 24-hour operations,” Welch said in the letter.

Even if the KAT partnership goes through, however, it could take time before the transit center bus stop opens.

“Enacting an arrangement for private use of a public facility will require adequate time and due diligence to ensure compliance with procurement processes, and will have to be approved by City Council,” Welch said. “Additionally, a lease agreement at the transit center will not address Greyhound’s needs during KAT’s operating hours. For these reasons, we continue to encourage Greyhound to find an alternative location for their service in partnership with a private entity.”

Since Greyhound is a private company that is currently operating lawfully, the City is not able to require changes to its current business model, according to Welch. The Knoxville Police Department has started including the Cherry Street stop in its patrols, however.

Stephanie Welch’s letter can be read in full below:

Greyhound is a private, for-profit bus service owned by FlixMobility – a company valued at more than $3 Billion in 2021. Greyhound provides a valuable service to many Knoxville residents and visitors.

According to Greyhound’s website, there are three types of locations to get on or off their buses: Greyhound stations, partner stations (other businesses such as gas stations, convenience stores or partner bus companies), and curbside. Greyhound has moved stops out of their stations in many cities, including Knoxville.

Although we were unaware of Greyhound’s plans following the sale of their Knoxville station, we did reach out to their US management team immediately with concerns about the pick-up and drop-off location Greyhound selected.

We do not believe that Greyhound is violating any laws by utilizing the Marathon station on Cherry Street for loading and unloading their customers. The City cannot require Greyhound – a privately-owned company - to change a lawful business model. City staff did evaluate the condition of public right of way in the area where Greyhound is operating. City infrastructure in this area, including lighting and pavement, is not in need of repair or upgrade.

We have provided recommendations and information Greyhound needs to help them find a more appropriate location for pick-up and drop-off to better serve the Knoxville community. We have recommended that Greyhound establish a service location at a partner business with 24-hour operations.

KAT has evaluated the possibility of Greyhound leasing space at the downtown transit center, which was built for the specific purpose of supporting KAT operations. The transit center does not have capacity to accommodate both KAT and Greyhound during KAT’s operational hours.

We have offered to explore a possible lease arrangement with Greyhound to support their nighttime routes, during the hours when KAT is not operating, at the transit center or at a KAT super stop. Greyhound is interested in this possible lease arrangement. The City and KAT are putting together proposed terms, including all financial and operating requirements.

Enacting an arrangement for private use of a public facility will require adequate time and due diligence to ensure compliance with procurement processes, and will have to be approved by City Council. Additionally, a lease agreement at the transit center will not address Greyhound’s needs during KAT’s operating hours. For these reasons, we continue to encourage Greyhound to find an alternative location for their service in partnership with a private entity.

KPD is aware of the current location Greyhound is using for passenger service, and our officers include checks on this area as part of routine patrols.

Stephanie Welch

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