Wheeling Greyhound Stop May Return to Intermodal

A Greyhound bus stops in front of the McLure Hotel on Market Street in Wheeling Wednesday. Photo by Casey Junkins

WHEELING — City officials may try to move the Greyhound bus station back to the location which taxpayers funded two decades ago with the intention of housing it: the Robert C. Byrd Intermodal Transportation Center on Main Street.

This, however, would create a problem for Security Travel owner Patrick Viola, who operates Wheeling’s Greyhound ticket office from his shop at 1207 Market St. He is unaware of any plans to move the stop to the intermodal.

In fact, Viola said as far as he knows, the current Greyhound stop on the east side of Market Street — just outside the McLure Hotel — works just fine.

“As far as I know, that is where it is going to be,” Viola said of the stop outside the McLure. “It is working out well.”

McLure general manager Nicole Skapik disagrees. During Christmas week, city officials moved the Greyhound stop from 12th Street, immediately outside the Vagabond Kitchen, to the loading zone outside the McLure, where it remains.

“It’s not pretty. It’s been a headache from day one,” Skapik said. “We’ve had people cuss at us when we tell them they can’t be in the lobby. I’m sorry, but we’re not a bus station.”

On the front door of the McLure is a sign stating the business is not affiliated with Greyhound. This is similar to the sign Vagabond Kitchen owner and chef Matt Welsch previously placed on his front door.

“No property owner wants it by their building,” Wheeling Vice Mayor Chad Thalman said. “No matter what we do, someone is going to be upset.”

The lack of a Greyhound bus station has proven problematic. Viola allows passengers to wait inside his office while they are waiting for the bus, but some passengers fear the driver will just keep going if they don’t see someone standing outside. This led to Los Angeles resident Alethea Pedersen spending hours outside in freezing cold temperatures in early January.

Formerly, the Greyhound franchise occupied the ground level of the Main Street side of the parking garage. Eventually, those who controlled the franchise moved out of the garage, leaving this area vacant.

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. That changed last year with the opening of the Vagabond Kitchen.

“I don’t see what the big problem is,” Viola said. “Wheeling is a city. Having people getting on and off a bus is part of being in a city.”

Looking for a solution, Thalman said city officials approached those with the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau about potentially taking over as the point-of-sale for Greyhound tickets. Because the bureau is already located at the northeast corner of the intermodal parking garage, this would give the buses a place to park while customers enter the building to sit or use the restroom.

“Ideally, it should be at the intermodal. We’ve spoken to the Wheeling CVB about potentially being the ticketing agent,” Thalman said. “We know Patrick (Viola) wouldn’t be happy about that.”

Olivia Litman, marketing director for the CVB, confirmed city officials have discussed this with those from the bureau.

“We would be open to it, but it would require some staffing changes. It would take some teamwork,” Litman said. “We understand that it is part of our city and would be willing to help.”

Viola said no one from the city has asked him about surrendering the Greyhound franchise. Although he now has a “for sale” sign on the front of his building, Viola said he has no immediate plans to close.

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