Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

May 22, 2014

Greyhound station: Bluefield location is critical

— — There was a lot of concern — and rightfully so — this week in the greater Bluefield area after the Greyhound bus station was temporarily closed. However, city officials say the Bland Street site is still serving as a drop off and pick-up station. That’s a good first start. But keeping the bus station in Bluefield is of utmost importance for residents across our region.

When commercial air service was lost at the Mercer County Airport back in 2008, so was one of the region’s primary sources of transportation for long-distance travel. Members of the Mercer County Airport Authority and new Airport Manager Clint Ransom are doing a good job of trying to rebuild the airport, and create a first-class general aviation facility. But there is no guarantee that commercial air service can or will be restored anytime soon.

The Bluefield Area Transit — a first-class and critical source of local transportation for area residents — continues to operate. But the current BAT routes are more regional destinations within a two-county area. In another words, you can’t take the BAT bus to North Carolina or Florida. And there is currently no rail passenger service in the immediate Bluefield and Princeton area. That leaves only the Greyhound bus service in and out of Bluefield as our only primary source of travel for area residents needing to reach a long-distance location.

 Chuck McGonagle, who owns the building that Greyhound currently rents, says the office has been shut down due to the sub-contractor no longer being employed with Greyhound.

“Four buses a day are still running in and out of Bluefield. The office is no longer selling tickets but is still being used as a bus stop,” McGonagle said. “The regular bus schedule posted on the door is still in effect, people just cannot go inside the building.”

McGonagle says he is continuing negotiations with Greyhound in hopes of keeping the bus station open. He says Greyhound is trying to find an existing company to sell their tickets in their building. As a result, he believes the company will be moving their station to another location. However, McGonagle is correctly urging the company to stay in the city limits of Bluefield, and believes they will.

“Greyhound has told me they don’t want to pull the buses out of Bluefield,” McGonagle said Tuesday.

At the moment, the closest place to actually buy Greyhound tickets and catch a bus is in Wytheville, Va., unless people buy their tickets online and catch a bus in Bluefield. That’s why it is critically important for the company to retain an office and visible presence in Bluefield.

Josh Cline, assistant city manager for Bluefield, says the city is hoping to facilitate a conversation with Greyhound, and is open to offering advice and business incentives to any business that would be willing to house the Greyhound station and sell tickets.

It is imperative for the Bluefield Board of Directors to do everything in their power to keep Greyhound in our area. We have already lost far too much in recent years in terms of public transportation. Keeping the Greyhound station in our region is absolutely critical.

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