A potential move of the District’s Greyhound bus terminal to Union Station has been discussed for years, but the effort now has caught the attention of lawmakers.
Leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are encouraging transit officials to speed up the move — a request that turns out to be complicated because of land ownership issues at Union Station.
“We strongly support relocating the terminal to Union Station, and we urge all parties involved in these discussions to work together to expeditiously reach agreement on the terms of such a move,” Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.), ranking member John Mica (R-Fla.) and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) wrote in a March 20 letter to David Ball, president of the Union Station Redevelopment Corp., which oversees the station.
“We believe that it is essential for Washington, D.C. to have an integrated transportation center which includes rail, bus, and transit to enhance passenger travel,” the Members added.
But the Greyhound station, located just a few blocks from Union Station at 1005 First St. NE, likely won’t move anytime soon.
Union Station is owned by the federal government, which placed USRC in charge of the land in 1981. The corporation then leased part of the land, including the current retail and Amtrak space, to a developer. USRC retained ownership of land containing the parking garage just north of the station, and recently sold the space over the Amtrak tracks to another developer, Akridge.
So if Greyhound wants to move, it has to figure out which of the three entities it wants to do business with.
“The garage is there, and we could park buses there tomorrow and sell tickets out of a trailer,” Ball said.
Greyhound also could lease a ticket counter in Union Station and park the buses elsewhere. Or it could try to squeeze into the 3-million-square-foot mixed-use Burnham Place development being planned above the train tracks. That land currently is slated for office and retail space and a hotel.
The federal government has limited sway over the issue since it has leased so much of the land, and the District doesn’t own any of the land.
Although D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty supports the Greyhound move and sits on USRC’s board, “There’s not anything we could do to force anybody’s hand,” said Sean Madigan, a spokesman for the city’s office of planning and economic development.
But a public/private partnership is possible at the Burnham Place site. Congress has appropriated at least $2.25 million since 2004 for a study of Union Station modernization. Moving the Greyhound station is just one aspect of the study.
Akridge hopes the government might join in funding the development at Burnham Place.
“We’d be more likely to be able to accommodate them if there were assistance from the federal government or from the city, from the people who want Greyhound to move into the facility,” said David Tuchmann, Akridge’s project manager for the site.
Whatever route Greyhound chooses, it’s apparent a move is not imminent.
“It’s not as simple as it would appear to be,” Ball said. “…There are people with a broad vision that understand how to put together a multimodal transportation center. There’s a will, but we just haven’t figured out a way.”