Downtown Mpls. Megabus Stop Causes Mega Fuss

Updated: 07/25/2013 6:45 PM By: Stephen Tellier

Hundreds of passengers are picked up and dropped off daily - with no indoor bathroom or access to water or heat. Now, nearby business owners want a solution.
Megabus does not have a physical station in Minneapolis, but it rents part of a downtown parking lot. The Megabus stops in the parking lot on the east side of Chicago Avenue, between South 3rd Street and Washington Avenue South, which is lined with businesses like restaurants, hotels and salons.
On Thursday morning, the city council listened to several business owners from the area. Those business owners said it's safe to say everyone - including Megabus - understands something needs to change.
Mamie Love is heading to Chicago to visit her kids.
"It's not even explainable, I'm so excited," Love said, as she waited to board a Megabus on Thursday.
She's excited about the destination, and the trip itself.
"It's reasonable. It's comfortable," Love said of riding the Megabus.
But Megabus is causing a mega fuss for some nearby business owners.
"Basically, they just dump them off in the parking lot and there's no place to go," said Gary Anderson, the owner of Level Salon.
Anderson's salon is just a short walk from the shelter-less stop.
"In winter, it's 10 below. There's no place for people to wait for the bus," Anderson said.
So, cold customers crowd out his own clients. They also come to use his restrooms.
"Coming in after a long ride and needing a bathroom, they're coming to the first place they can find down the street," Anderson said.
So, his salon is basically doubling as a bus depot.
"We've been servicing their clients with all their facilities," Anderson said. "I'm not going to turn them away because where are they going to go?"
On Thursday morning, Anderson, and several other business owners in his building, talked to the city council about it. He said they got the message, and so did a representative from Megabus.
"I was very appreciative and happy at how much he gets it, and he actually thanked me at the end of this for letting people come in here," Anderson said.
He said all sides agree the situation needs to change, including the passengers.
"I think it would be better for them to move it to a more comfortable place," Love said.
"There's some agency within the city now that needs to figure out where to put this bus," Anderson said.
Megabus has put in two portable toilets at its stop, but Anderson said that hasn't helped much. In April, Megabus added another stop at the Midway Shopping Center to try to divert some traffic away from the downtown location. The company is also trying to get buses here 45 minutes early, so that the bus itself can serve as a shelter. But the bus we saw at noon on Thursday arrived only 20 minutes before it was scheduled to leave.
There was no action taken at Thursday's meeting, as talks between the city and Megabus continue. They're looking at several possibilities for a new stop, including an unused bus depot off 3rd Avenue, and last month, Megabus told the city they would even provide security guards and pay rent at that location.
Megabus said it's hopeful a solution will be found sooner rather than later.
Either way, the current Megabus stop will eventually be forced to move. The company rents that small slice of parking lot pavement, but their lease likely won't be renewed once construction begins on the new Vikings stadium nearby.