Two Ongoing Downtown Wheeling Problems Intersect
Stormsewer work, bus stop complaint collide
WHEELING — For at least three weeks, Greyhound buses will no longer stop directly outside the Vagabond Kitchen on 12th Street, as passengers will now enter and exit the vehicles in front of the McLure Hotel on Market Street.
Two ongoing downtown Wheeling issues now, quite literally, intersect because this move comes as city officials have closed 12th Street between Market and Main streets to allow contractors to work on the behind schedule stormwater sewer separation project. To comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, the stormwater line will eventually stretch from Wheeling Creek to the new headquarters of The Health Plan.
“This is a test, trying it in front of the McLure,” said Patrick Viola, owner of Security Travel, which operates Wheeling’s Greyhound ticket office.
However, McLure general manager Nicole Skapik said no one sought her input for said test.
“I have been the general manager for nine months. No one has said anything about this to me. We are not happy about it at all,” Skapik said.
“It is already causing problems. They are coming in here expecting to use the restroom and buy bus tickets. We are not a bus station,” she added.
Meanwhile, Vagabond owner and chef Matt Welsch said there have been times when outgoing Greyhound passengers blocked the entrance to his business with their luggage. On at least a couple of occasions, he said, some who have arrived on the bus have entered his business to panhandle.
“We face a lot of hurdles running a small business in downtown Wheeling. The Greyhound stop is one of those,” Welsch said recently. “It’s just one of the challenges here in downtown Wheeling.”
Viola seems perplexed at the local opposition to a Greyhound stop.
“Why are people in Wheeling looking down on Greyhound? It’s a convenient and affordable way to travel,” he said.
“I’ve had entertainers, boxers and musicians travel on these buses,” Viola continued. “I think having Greyhound in Wheeling helps the city. You can get from here to New York (City) at a very reasonable rate.”
Viola said he took over the city’s Greyhound ticket office in 2014 when no one else wanted it. Because the corner space at 12th and Market streets had been vacant for so long, few noticed when the Greyhound stop moved to an existing loading zone on the south side of 12th Street, which is just up the street from Viola’s 1207 Market St. business.
Then, early this year, Welsch moved his restaurant to the corner location. Welsch has moved multiple times since starting his business at the McLure in 2014.
Mayor Glenn Elliott has said the ideal solution would be to return the Greyhound stop to the Robert C. Byrd Intermodal Transportation Center on Main Street. During the summer, however, Wheeling officials approved an agreement to eventually allow Grow Ohio Valley to operate a “full-time farmers’ market” to enter the space, though this has yet to materialize.
Viola said approximately 6,000 passengers per year arrive in Wheeling via Greyhound buses, while he said the annual number of passengers boarding outbound buses to travel from the Friendly City is 3,285.
Viola said there are regularly five buses per day bringing passengers to Wheeling and picking up those looking to travel from the city: 7:15 a.m., 8:15 a.m., 1:40 p.m., 2:20 p.m., and 5:30 p.m.
Viola, who said he began running the travel business 33 years ago, said he prefers having the stop in front of the McLure because his customers can see the stop from his window. Amy Barnhart, a server at Vagabond, said the new stop is a pleasant development.
“It seems to be a positive so far,” she said. “There was just too much loitering in front of our building.”