Details emerge on first stage of city’s intermodal transit study

March 17, 2010

By Anthony Campisi
For PlanPhilly

The city took the first step in imagining a new bus terminal for Market East, releasing details of a study that looks into ways of making the Greyhound Bus terminal in Center City more attractive to pedestrians and more accessible by mass transit.

The study evaluated two options to replace the current drab structure, which Chris Jandoli of Parsons Brinkerhoff, the consulting firm that did the study, called “sketchy.”

The first scenario would rebuild a new bus terminal at the same location, moving the structure closer to the street to create a friendlier environment for commuters.

One of the biggest problems Parsons identified was the disconnect between the existing terminal and Market East, one of the city’s three main mass transit hubs that have a connection to the Market Street concourse and the Market-Frankford El and the subway-surface trolleys.

Currently, intercity bus riders have little way of knowing that they’re exiting buses only a few feet away from one of the city’s biggest transit nodes, Jandoli said.

“We just have these kind of disconnected assets,” he said.

To fix that, the study proposes building a tunnel that would connect the main concourse of Market East to the bus terminal, allowing for easy transfer between trains and buses.

Jandoli said that doing this would also allow for ticketing and waiting areas in the current terminal to be moved to underutilized portions of Market East.

In completing the idea of greater pedestrian circulation at the train station, the study also proposes punching a hole through from the concourse to the Reading Terminal Market, which Parsons and the city hope would attract business in the form of new shops that would be housed in the walkway between the two Market East waiting areas.

The other plan would involve moving the bus terminal to an underutilized truck loading area under The Gallery.

Though the new site would present logistical problems — buses would have a hard time making turns and the number of bus berths would be reduced — Jandoli said that this option would capitalize on existing infrastructure and connect the terminal with area amenities.

Both options would address the problem of poor pedestrian access to the underground transit concourse.

The study seeks to reduce the number of transit entrances from 13 to five to concentrate use and reduce confusion over which entrances are open at what times.

It also calls for better signage along the street to make people aware of existing transit assets, which are currently hidden to most first-time visitors because entrances are located on side streets.

The study doesn’t deal with larger goals the city has set for Market East, including moving SEPTA and New Jersey Transit buses off of Market Street. Jandoli said those issues should be resolved in a more comprehensive plan for the corridor.

It also doesn’t include a price estimate for either plan. That and other questions would be answered in a further study, which would also analyze current usage of the underground transit concourse.

Contact the reporter at campisi.anthony@gmail.com

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