Anu Subramanian / Sun News Editor

The Green Street Bus Station (above) could soon merge with the Ithaca Bus Terminal. Another alternative terminal being considered is the airport.

July 27, 2018

Ithaca Bus Terminal Could Merge With Downtown TCAT Station by the End of August

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An earlier version of this article reported that the Ithaca Bus Terminal’s merger with the Green Street Bus Station had been finalized. This has now been corrected to reflect that it is only a suggestion. 

The Ithaca Bus Terminal at 710 West State Street, where passengers can purchase tickets or board intercity buses, is currently scheduled to close its doors at the end of July and could merge with the downtown Green Street Bus Station by the end of August.

JoAnn Cornish, director of planning and development for the City of Ithaca, explained that the Ithaca Bus Terminal is closing because the current operators, David and Brenda Wallace, are hoping to retire. Their building lease expires at the end of July, and Tompkins Trust Company, which owns the terminal space, is not interested in continuing to have a bus station at that location.

On July 17, Cornish and several other city officials met representatives from major bus carriers including Greyhound and Shortline to discuss options for new bus stop locations.

According to Cornish, by the end of the meeting, all the stakeholders had reached a unanimous agreement to allow intercity bus companies to work with Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit to coordinate bus service on Green Street.

“This will allow ticket agents to work out of the Downtown Bus Station, currently being occupied only by TCAT and [its] riders,” Cornish told The Sun. “Since the majority of tickets are sold online, terminals and printers would be located in the bus station.”

She added that Nicole Pagano, a pharmacist who co-owns the Green Street Pharmacy next to the station, might sell tickets “when the station is closed or not staffed.”

According to Pagano, she is interested in selling bus tickets, but “the [final] decision has not been made.”

Cornish also told The Sun that city officials and representatives from the bus lines are hoping to “negotiate a 30 day reprieve from vacating the existing west end bus station” until the Green Street plans can be finalized.

Cornish and other city officials recognize the urgent need to come up with a plan to cope with the terminal shutdown, Cornish said. She noted that she was happy that city officials and bus companies reached an agreement before the bus stop closure at the end of this month.

“We have a lot of riders on these intercity buses, and we know that Ithaca to New York buses are really important … they serve large communities throughout the state and are a critical part of the city’s economy as well,” she told The Sun.

Cornish explained that before their meeting, city officials and bus lines had already discussed the viability of Green Street and the airport as potential new terminal locations.

Cornish said the airport was considered as a potential bus stop because there is already infrastructure in place, including open space in front of the airport terminal. There are also staff at the airport 24 hours per day, who could help sell bus tickets.

“The problem with the airport is that it is pretty far removed,” Cornish said. “There are not many good connections from the airport to downtown. We don’t have a really robust taxi service … and there are not many TCAT connections so it would be a tough location for the majority of bus riders.”

As for Green Street, Cornish said the location may work because there is already a TCAT terminal there. However, she also foresaw issues during the afternoon peak hours when TCAT uses almost all the spaces on Green Street.

According to Cornish, because the new bus terminal has now been set as the Downtown Bus Station, intercity bus companies and TCAT will have to work closely with each other to prevent traffic congestion.

Even though there is still a lot of work to be done before the new bus stop could begin operation, Cornish said she is optimistic about the terminal relocation and hopes community members will find the new site more convenient.

“The current bus station is a little run-down,” she said. “There is no bathroom … and [it] can be a little scary [at night] because it’s very dark and there [is] nothing much around there.”

She said that at the Green Street station near the Commons, there are “a lot more activities at night.”

When asked how the bus terminal relocation would affect the charter buses used by Student Agencies Inc., Lucas Goldman ’20, president of SAI, said members of the corporation “are looking into the matter as well but do not have any further information at the time on [their] end.”