Megabus riders want to retain convenience if Pittsburgh stop moved

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Randy Wiley arrived Downtown today at the Megabus stop in his usual way.

He boarded a Port Authority bus near his home in Squirrel Hill, disembarked Downtown, then walked over to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where he boarded the noon bus for New York City.

It's a path Mr. Wiley, who is 26, repeats every few months. But after next week, one part of his journey will change.

Pittsburgh officials have set a June 15 deadline for Megabus to relocate its Downtown bus stop.

"The reason we've asked them to move is the fact that we have become the bus terminal for Megabus, and we are not a bus terminal," said Mark Leahy, general manager for the convention center.

Mr. Leahy said the presence of the Megabus stop has led to trash-filled and congested sidewalks, frequent requests to use the convention center's bathrooms, phone calls to the convention center asking for information about Megabus trips and blocked lanes for convention center visitors.

Megabus officials have disputed the claims about the stop, pointing out that trash cans are in place next to the stop and that dispatchers are on duty to ensure orderly operations.

There was no trash on the ground at the bus stop today, and Megabus dispatchers there said they refer passengers to local businesses, not the convention center, for restroom access.

The stop has improved recently, Mr. Leahy said, but its presence still has a negative impact on the convention center.

"Megabus, we do believe, is a great amenity to the city and we've tried to work with them and everything else," he said. "It's just not our mission."

Megabus, known for its bargain fares, started Pittsburgh service in May 2010 and now offers service to 11 cities.

City officials want Megabus to stay in Pittsburgh, and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has been working to find the bus service a new Downtown location, spokeswoman Joanna Doven said. It's not clear yet where that stop will be.

The noon bus to New York City, with a stop in State College, was about 75 percent filled, said John Kasko, a Megabus supervisor who works at the stop. He called the convention center stop "perfect," since it's protected from the elements and close to city bus lines.

If it has to move, several of the people in line, many of them Pitt students, suggested moving the stop to Oakland. Wherever it goes, it should be someplace as convenient as the convention center stop, Mr. Wiley said.

"I think as long as it is someplace within the lines of the city buses," he said.

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