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    Greyhound may test Seattle's commitment to mass transportation

    The bus line is losing its home on the north edge of downtown. Is a move to Pioneer Square's King Street Station the best choice, and perhaps the only way to keep the intercity service in Seattle?

    (Page 2 of 3)

    Sheck said that the over-the-tracks terminal would offer ease of access and an abundance of space for buses, and "might be the ultimate logical solution" if BNSF could buy into it.

    A key figure in North Lot's development sees value in the idea, too. “All it takes is a lid being constructed that we have designed and was ready to go back in 2005,” wrote Kevin Daniels, president of NLD partner Daniels Real Estate, in an e-mail interview. He estimated the structure's cost at $10 million. “The thought at the time was to leave an option to build additional office space above it as a development option to help fund the cost. We also talked to Sen. [Patty] Murray at that time and received some support."

    "Cramming more activity onto a dead end King Street makes no sense," Daniels said. “I also believe the cost of this alternative is less than buying the required land and development rights needed to address adding interstate bus activity ... in the North Lot.”

    Daniels' last statement alludes to the possibility that the north lot parking area remaining between his development and the stadium may present. The Washington State Public Stadium Authority (PSA) owns that lot, and the land under CenturyLink Field, and has leased both until 2029 to Paul Allen's First and Goal, the Seahawks' parent company. The terms of the King County-NLD sale included creation of a 90-foot-wide easement, following the alignment of Second Avenue between the development's two blocks, to allow pedestrians, cars, and charter buses to reach the stadium for events. According to PSA project manager Steve Woo, no arrangements have been finalized as to where the charters will stop to load or unload passengers in the parking area.

    That creates a natural question whether the parking arrangements would allow combined access for both the occasional event charters and scheduled intercity buses serving Seattle — all within a few hundred feet of the train station. The need for bus terminal facilities complicates the idea, but the configuration seems to offer, at the least, a simple, place-holder option while a grander solution takes shape. If PSA or King County finds merit in the option, Daniels stated, “they can come discuss what they might need.”

    First and Goal did not respond to several requests for comment.

    There could be other solutions around King Street Station. Sheck raised the possibility of purchasing and converting the Seattle Lighting building, across Jackson Street to the north of the station, as an option that would be similar to Portland, where the train and intercity bus stations stand almost next to each other.

    Indeed, multimodal terminals shared by Amtrak, intercity bus providers, and local transit constitute an increasingly common feature of urban life in cities from Vancouver, B.C., to Meridian, Miss. The political question thus reads: Does Seattle intend to seize the opportunity?

    In September, McGinn lauded the King County-NLD deal as “good news.” The release touted expectations that “the project will be the largest transit-oriented development on the West Coast.” Now, with Greyhound on the hunt for a new site, one wonders just how far the mayor's vision for transit-oriented development extends.

    In a phone interview late last week, mayoral spokesman Aaron Pickus said a senior member of the mayor's staff would be meeting with the Seattle Department of Transportation and WSDOT and evaluating the situation.

    Pickus did not have a date for the meeting. Greyhound executives might take part, he said, adding that “our office [also] will be working with our Office of Economic Development, which has expertise in siting and working with neighborhoods as to where things go. We're very much in a fact-finding stage. The mayor wants to help.”

    If a meeting with Leach “appears beneficial, I'm sure he'll be very open to it,” Pickus added, referring to McGinn. “The mayor's position on transportation is that people need a wide array of choices for getting around,” he said, including intercity buses.

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    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 7:35 a.m. Inappropriate

    In the interests of preserving the peace in the station, as well as the city's investments, Greyhound needs to be located somewhere other than King Street Station. The passenger base is, to put it frankly, trashy.

    And yes, I've rode Greyhound recently. And it will be a long time before I do that again.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 7:57 a.m. Inappropriate

    Where is Roger Valdez when you need him. Someone to say, stack em deep.

    Yeah, look a bit north to Everett, to see a true transportation hub, with 2 inter-city bus lines, three public transit busses, and two rail lines (counting ST's toy train) for an example that works.

    The Geezer


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 8:21 a.m. Inappropriate

    WHY is Greyhound losing its lease where it's been forever? Why hasn't Greyhound just bought the land its current terminal is on? Perhaps Greyhound's customers aren't always the upper middle class, but isn't that the point: to have inter-city, inter-state transportation for those who can't afford to fly or take the train? Besides Greyhound's availability means fewer cars on the freeway & heaven knows there are enough cars clogging the freeways & other streets/roads already. Gentrification only goes SO far!

    Posted Fri, Feb 15, 10:12 a.m. Inappropriate

    Greyhound did own it's land, but sometime back it was raped by a leverage by-out firm and the land, like pretty much all it's assets were sold to the rapists.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 8:24 a.m. Inappropriate

    Hey you old Geezer, that would require some cooperation, something that is lacking in Seattle.
    Pick your poison:
    A waterfront streetcar kicked to the curb by some ugly artwork,
    A King St station face lift taking 20 years to complete.
    A First Hill Streetcar built as the booby prize for the Med Centers cancelled station.
    Light Rail/Metro bus turf wars galore.
    WDDOT's grand plans.
    A parking lot, football stadium, and on and on....
    and the owners, BNSF/Seattle, who we all know 'play well together'.
    Would the last leader left in Seattle unplug the night light.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 9:05 a.m. Inappropriate

    First of all, Seattle does NOT love coordinated public transportation. That's why there are a plethora of transit agencies in our region: Metro, Sound Transit, WSDOT's and King County's ferry systems, Pierce Transit, Snohomish County's Community Transit and Kitsap County Transit. The City of Seattle must be called out for special mention as a transit agency, because it used to run the extremely popular waterfront streetcar before allowing the Seattle Art Museum to build SAM's Sculpture Garden to be built on the trolly car maintence barn without requiring its replacement as mitigation. Seattle also built the SLUT before handing it off to Metro to operate. Seattle also plans to build more trolly lines even though money to pay for them is in short supply. Finally, there is the Port of Seattle, which runs the airport. After hoggishly insisting on building the third runway (the preliminary cost estimate of of which was $217 million and the actual cost was more than $1 billion), POS stiffed ST for years by refusing to allow ST to build a station inside SeaTac Airport. This forced ST to build the palatial glass palace known as the Tukwila Station a couple of miles away from the airport. Some years later the POS relented and did allow a light rail station to built inside the airport, but to get between this station and the airivals and departure areas of the airport passengers must hike a quarter mile through a dark, ugly parking lot with astonishly poor signage and ride an escalator to and from the train platform. Even Mexico City has a better airport/light rail connection than this.

    Second, if local transportation agencies really wanted a seamless bus-trolley-light rail-ferry system, they would have leaned heavily on King County (the landowner) and the City of Seattle, not to permit construction of four new residential and commercial towers on the CenturyLink Field north parking lot. This project will displace much of of the currently unbuilt space near near King Street Station, the bus tunnel and the downtown ferry terminals. Instead of thinking ahead, these towers are going up and soon thousands of people will be living and working in them. The new bus station will have to be built somewhere else, presumably somewhere in SODO.

    Third, all of the transportation infrastructure recently built in Pioneer Square, the ID and SODO will likely be impacted by flooding before the end of the century due to the combined effects of sea level rise, high tides and floods in the Green/Duwamish River and Elliott Bay. Areas of Seattle likely to be affected by sea level rise (depicted in increments of 3, 6, 9, 12 and 15 feet) are shown here:


    Are local transportation and land use planning agencies in denial about these problems, or do they just want to continue not to play well together?

    Mud Baby

    Posted Fri, Feb 15, 10:16 a.m. Inappropriate

    In all fairness to the Port of Seattle, the light rail terminal was going to come right up to the main terminal, roughly at the end where United is now, but after 9/11, Homeland Security made the port redesign the route to get it further away from the fence. That's why it took so long and now ends where it is.

    If the port would spring for a moving sidewalk, where it is now could eventually turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as it will allow the route to continue south down 99 to Federal Way.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 10 a.m. Inappropriate

    Some basic misconceptions in the comments.

    Greyhound doesn't have tens of millions to buy its current terminal. Downtown land isn't cheap.

    An escalator is necessary for Sea-Tac Station unless you're suggesting a track that people can walk across, which would never happen except in the street segments for a bunch of reasons...speed, liability, etc. As for the location, it's an easy walk unless you're injured, and the station is in the only place that can allow an extension to the south, dramatically reducing cost and disruption vs. doing it over the roadway ROW for example.

    The Third Runway cost rose in part because it was delayed by many years. Currently it's paying off very well by helping us get international routes, since airlines have much more trust in being able to land on schedule. Sea-Tac is a lot more reliable all around.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 10:10 a.m. Inappropriate

    George Benson of Seattle City Council fame desired the Pioneer Square dual train station area to be a transportation hub 25-30 years ago. Everything is not up to date in Seattle.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 10:27 a.m. Inappropriate

    The comment above from NWneighbor illustrates a good reason for building a new facility work adjacent to the King Street Station. The misconception that Greyhound riders are "trashy" keeps people from using the bus when it makes a lot of sense to do so. Many bus riders are students, or older people who no longer drive. What's "trashy" about the bus system is often the bus terminal itself, and certainly the Seattle station is all of that, one of the least-welcoming places in the city. Portland had a similar Greyhound system a quarter-century ago, right in the heart of the city, but it was unkept and sometimes dangerous. The station was closed and Greyhound moved to a new site a block from the Amtrak station, and right on city city service. It's neat, safe even late at night, and attracts riders from all walks of life. If Seattle is truly welcoming to people of all income levels and is serious about inter-model transit, a new bus station near the Amtrak station is essential. And if that means getting hard-nosed with BNSF, then so be it. The railroad benefits from millions of dollars in public funds (funneled through Amtrak) and enjoys a virtual monopoly in this region. It needs to step up to the plate for the good of the region. But nothing will happen without leadership from City Hall and civic leaders--even if they don't ride Greyhound.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 10:54 a.m. Inappropriate

    "The passenger base is, to put it frankly, trashy."

    Nice. So the poor, the students, the elderly on fixed income? Screw 'em, right? Stick the terminal somewhere inaccessible so we don't have to see all those undesirables.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 11:09 a.m. Inappropriate

    Well as for you flashy Madison Ave types in your fancy suits who said I want to associate with you? And where do you get the idea that those not like you are not worth it? I dont trust anyone just because they can put on a fancy suit and tie. Show me what you can do prove your worth - do not try impressing me with a suit and tie - wont work.

    IF we cared about
    1. Energy conservation
    2. The great oil crisis to come
    3. environmental stuff
    4 Conveinience of the traveler and ease of getting to fianl destinateion

    ALL our manor hubs Sea Tac the train station etc etc would have easy on site links to other transportationn services.
    As we can see because of our actions it is easy to conclude we just plain do not care.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 11:14 a.m. Inappropriate

    The last time I went to Portland, just last month, I walked to and from the Amtrak station. In front of the Greyhound station, in broad daylight, I was aggressively panhandled, and offered drugs. Some nutcase couple were having a domestic issue at the top of their lungs just inside the entrance.

    Last year, I took Greyhound from Seattle to Spokane. The bus was dirty and full of drunks, and the stations were filthy.

    When I was in college in the 80's, I routinely road Greyhound from Iowa City to Omaha. It was the same story then. Even worse, because you could still smoke.

    When I was a kid, I was offered drugs and a man tried to feel me up in the restroom of the Omaha station.

    I could go on, but I think everyone gets the picture. We can cry crocodile tears all we want about the underprivileged (and I'm no Rockefeller myself) but facts are facts. Bust stations are trashy, and they attract trashy people. Not everyone, of course, but Greyhound tolerates bad behavior, and there's no denying that. King Street Station is too nice a property to allow It to be taken over by that. In addition, it undermines Amtrak's marketing efforts. We're finally getting a good station. Let's not mess it up.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 11:16 a.m. Inappropriate

    And the terminal doesn't have to be "someplace inaccessible". The Seattle Lighting Location, or someplace similar is fine.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 11:41 a.m. Inappropriate

    CB: Sound Transit is only using the upstairs of the old Union Pacific station. The Grand Lobby would hold lots of buses, with some nifty covered parking to boot. A few exhaust fans would keep the workers above from chocking to much, and the easy on/offs from 4th and Jackson would be great for Greyhound to stay on schedule.
    What's not to like about this?


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 12:11 p.m. Inappropriate

    I've long thought the distance between the Greyhound and King Street Stations, a major inconvenience for travelers, to be a mistake. Seattle is particularly important as a transportation hub since it serves as an important transfer point for people traveling between the United States and Canada. I use the Greyhound frequently, and I would be glad to see the current station replaced with a larger facility, should that happen.

    I never thought myself a "trashy" person, but NWneighbor's extensive set of anecdotes has proven me wrong.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 1:34 p.m. Inappropriate

    If memory serves the Greyhound station and the bus barn on Denny were sold off years ago when the company had difficulties. I believe this is aslo when the company dropped a number of towns and routes.

    The best solution is to make space for Greyhound in the North parking lot near King St. Station rather than the insipid, Pioneer Sqr. killing condos now planned. Then one could actually have parking and convenient access to both stations.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 2:17 p.m. Inappropriate

    That parcel was sold to a developer in 1995. At the time the bus station, which continued to operate there under a lease, was going to move a couple of blocks toward Lake Union. Obviously never happened.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 2:43 p.m. Inappropriate

    @KathryntheGreat, it costs the same to ride between Bellingham and Seattle on Amtrak and Greyhound. But Amtrak doesn't grossly overbook, then scramble to try to find a bus to put the overbooked passengers on and a driver to drive it. At least there were no chickens or goats on board the Greyhound bus. Like @NWNeighbor, I will not ride Greyhound again unless I absolutely have to...


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 2:47 p.m. Inappropriate

    Pepper2000 Spare me the histrionics and victimization. The inner-city bus stations *generally* have problems with panhandlers and hangers on. There's no reason to believe that if they relocate the station to the social services hub of the northwest, the place where we as a society warehouse people until they die or move, that things will get any better.

    Yeah, we can swap stories all day. You can tell me the time everyone on the bus sang Christmas songs and kintted sweaters for orphans, and I can tell you about the time the guy messed himself in the seat and nobody cleaned it. And so on and so on.

    Greyhound should do better for the elderly, students, and other people of goodwill and limited means. When they do, I think an intermodal station will be great. but until they clean up their act, I'm against it. And I'll let my opinions be known.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 3:45 p.m. Inappropriate

    That artist's rendering shows the city's next planned affront to mobility, one which few are aware of: The removal of the 2nd Avenue Extension. Our Dear Leaders really are trying their hardest to make it difficult to get around.

    It is referenced on this page, down towards the bottom: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/kingstreethub.htm


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 4:36 p.m. Inappropriate

    Greyhound isn't the only private intercity bus in town: Canada-based QuickShuttle makes the run from SeaTac to Vancouver, picking up and dropping off at it's "downtown" streetside location in the shadow of the Space Needle, next to the Best Western Executive Inn at 6th. Ave N and John St. While their location is closer to where I live, it would make sense to consolidate bus lines in one location. But then again, maybe QS is perfectly content to stay where they are. Ticketing is all on-line, via phone, or from the hotel desk.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 5:12 p.m. Inappropriate

    I took Greyhound in a big circle around the country in the late 80s. My impression was much better than NWneighbor's. Definitely a lot of students and poor people, but most were ok. Seattle's was by far the worst terminal of the 20 or so I visited.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 5:39 p.m. Inappropriate

    Elitism seems certain that we are still rich. That dream went up in smoke. It's time to wake up and smell the (cheap) coffee.

    We can not afford NOT to find a place for Greyhound to operate, right at King Street station with the rest of the transportation.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 6:37 p.m. Inappropriate

    The space over the convention center light rail station seems possible for a Greyhound intercity bus terminal. Escalators could connect with the rail system below and then to the various stations, King Street train station and Seatac airport. The close in location would be a benefit for travelers as well. It could be a part of a larger office/retail development as well. Penn Station is a good example albeit much smaller...just thinking.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 8:48 p.m. Inappropriate

    The reality of Greyhound is that they serve a lower income market than most other modes of intercity transit. I've also made good use of Amtrak. It's a different demographic, to be sure, but NWneighbor's portrayal of the Greyhound demographic is, in my experience, greatly exaggerated. I've probably made about 100 Greyhound rides in my lifetime, and I can only think of a couple instances where there were people who caused problems. Part of the issue may be the route; the clientele is a bit different, for instance, between express and local routes, urban and rural routes, and day and night routes. I've done all of those at various points. But for all the horror stories out there, I've seen surprisingly little first-hand in the way of bad behavior.

    My experience also is that Greyhound does a reasonable job maintaining order. I've seen kids get thrown off the bus for trying to buy alcohol at a stop, and during the December 2008 snowstorm I saw the Seattle security evict a woman who became too surly (as being stuck in a Greyhound station for two days might to do a person).

    Posted Wed, Dec 21, 12:05 a.m. Inappropriate

    I think a viable alternative would be to move the "depot" proper to Sea-Tac airport. Sea-Tac Airport already has many coach bays outside "Door 00" many of which go unused a good part of the year. being outside of downtown and off the street, the homeless problem that plagues the existing depot just won’t be there (not to mention the port police who would enforce that). Secondly, with a bit of remodeling you could have full baggage facility’s, plus good Greyhound/Sound Transit/Metro/Airline connections as well. For service to Downtown Seattle, They could have a "curb stop" somewhere near KSS (2nd Ave EXT anyone?) where buses could either stop as they pass through downtown, or from the south continue north, making the stop at KSS than onto their garage near W. Seattle. Operationally it wouldn’t be difficult, just a bit of added runtime. For the passengers, if your destination is Seattle proper you'd probably get off at the curb stop. If you're transferring, you'd go to the airport and make your transfer there. a bit out of the way for some transfers but again the facilities are there, it’s a good "multi-modal" point, even if is the airport, and it has good freeway access. All it would really need is a connecting shuttle to Tukwila Station for Sounder and Amtrak and it would be a true multi-modal hub.


    Posted Wed, Dec 21, 8:04 a.m. Inappropriate

    That's a decent plan if Seattle proves impossible.

    As for the shuttle, what if we had some sort of....train, or "linked" vehicle, from the airport to Downtown....?


    Posted Wed, Dec 21, 8:05 a.m. Inappropriate

    PS, since local transit, tourism, the ferry system, Amtrak, etc., revolve around Downtown, that will probably always be the dominant origin and destination. Getting at least close is important.


    Posted Wed, Dec 21, 8:19 a.m. Inappropriate

    I'm a little surprised the Greyhound depot hasn't been designated an historical building. It started out as the terminal for the Seattle-Everett Interurban. The pavement under the bus shed still shows where the tracks were. The terminal for the Seattle-Tacoma interurban was in Pioneer Square, at the still-existing Interurban Building. Being that interurbans were just slightly larger streetcars meant they could have traversed the city streets to join each other; why they never did I don't know. Likewise, how it came to become the Greyhound station. Maybe because in the late '30s the Everett interurban was taken over by a bus line, which immediately upon takeover, ripped up the tracks and replaced the interurban with busses (an occurrence that happened all over the country).


    Posted Wed, Dec 21, 10:23 a.m. Inappropriate

    Greyhound should buy the parking lot on S. King between 5th and 6th.


    Build a new bus station there, it's got easy off the freeway access same as the metro buses. It's not too far from LINK, The tunnel, and King Street station.

    And it's empty land. 6th is probably too quiet but 5th already has a ton of buses on it.

    Get the old INS building on Airport Way S. and Dearborn. The access isn't quite as good, but it's more industrial land, and since the Fed's own it the city should be able to acquire it for a reasonable cost and lease it to Greyhound.


    Posted Wed, Dec 21, 3:58 p.m. Inappropriate

    I think JGP and MisterZ have a good argument: namely that the transportation node that is most promising is at SeaTac. My observations (limited, I admit) are that the airline customers have more in common with the Greyhound clientele than the Amtrak crowd. Amtrak seems to be a pleasant way to travel for people that don't really have an urgent need to get anywhere. I like Amtrak but I see a lot of people on airplanes that look like they are just trying to get to work as fast as they can. So it might be that the interface at the airport really makes the most sense I'm sure someone has some numbers on this but it's hard for me to see the Amtrak/Greyhound connection as critical. City buses? maybe, but we have a rail connection to SeaTac for some reason.


    Posted Thu, Dec 22, 11:41 a.m. Inappropriate

    What happened to the Green Tortoise?


    Posted Thu, Dec 22, 12:47 p.m. Inappropriate

    keith has a point. Nowadays flying has very much in common (comfort, cache, civilized passengers) of riding the Greyhound.


    Posted Thu, Dec 22, 1:18 p.m. Inappropriate

    -WITH riding the Greyhound (sheesh)


    Posted Wed, Dec 28, 8:01 a.m. Inappropriate

    If I'm not mistaken, Greyhound sold the property it's operating out of now years ago as part of the leveraged buyout, bankruptcy, and consolidation of the non-franchise Trailways operation.

    Given the current Greyhound location on top of, and in the midst of, some of the most desirable real estate in Seattle, it has been glaringly obvious that this day has been coming sooner rather than later.

    Perhaps it's been impossible to get all the players to the table at the same time with the same sense of urgency, but the failure of the City of Seattle, King County and King County Metro, BNSF, Amtrak,Sound Transit, and the Port of Seattle to come together and build a publicly-owned, publicly run multi-modal terminal, like an airport, borders on the reprehensible.

    There is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here to build a transportation infrastructure BEFORE the development goes in. The economy and land use from just south of the city/county buildings on down is ramping up to change from its waning industrial usage to become part of the 21st Century "Seattle" economy.

    The the City should have insisted all the players coming to a mutally acceptable, long term plan for a transportation hub before there was/is any more thought about building in the area.


    Posted Mon, Jan 9, 3 p.m. Inappropriate

    Greyhound is a non-priority in downtown Seattle. I've used Greyhound many times, all over America, but I've never needed to in Washington state. The city is blessed with excellent rail transit, via Amtrak. Seattle has excellent rail, ferry, bus and airplane access, without needing Greyhound. In fact, they could easily be relocated pretty much anywhere in Seattle and preferably in south King County, or somewhere else on Seattle's south side. The terminal doesn't need to be anywhere near downtown. As long as it is somewhere near light rail or bus lines, it could be constructed anywhere, south of downtown. Sea-Tac, Rainier Beach, Tukwila, all come to mind.


    Posted Mon, Jan 9, 3:06 p.m. Inappropriate

    Also, situating the new and improved Greyhound in SOUTH KING COUNTY would greatly improve the potential and timeliness for back and forth LOS ANGELES TO SEATTLE express buses.


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