Discount bus service Megabus is searching for a new drop-off location in Minneapolis as complaints mount about their riders’ activity near a parking lot on Washington Avenue.
A City Council committee heard testimony Thursday from business owners surrounding Megabus’s current stop just north of the Metrodome on Washington Avenue. The stop now includes porta potties, but has no shelter.
They say riders have taken refuge in their buildings during cold winter days, defecated and urinated behind buildings and sometimes left their luggage behind before and after taking buses between Minneapolis and places like Milwaukee and Chicago.
“There’s no place for our clients to come in and sit,” said Gary Anderson, owner of the high-end Level Salon. “I can’t ask a woman with three children to leave the salon when it’s 10 below outside.”
Anderson is one of several businesses at 903 Washington, including a bank, Wasabi Fusion Cuisine and Sanctuary Restaurant.
Megabus, a national company, does not provide their riders with indoor facilities, allowing them to keep prices low. They have struggled to find an appropriate outside location in Minneapolis, particularly after the city asked them to stop curbside pickups.
Eric Galatz, an attorney representing the company, said they were denied access to the city’s Hawthorne Transportation Center, where other bus companies pick up riders. They have tried to address the issue in the short term by getting buses on site earlier so people can wait and use restrooms on the vehicle.
“I don’t in any way want to argue with the neighbors,” Galatz told the committee. “We very much appreciate their concerns.”
Council Member Lisa Goodman, who represents downtown, said the problem would be fixed.
“The situation is unacceptable,” Goodman said. “And it’s going to change. So I want the neighbors to know that the city agrees with you.”
At dispute is whether the site on Washington Avenue is a “bus turnaround facility,” which would require Megabus to obtain a special permit. The city’s zoning administrator said it was. The Zoning Board of Adjustment disagreed. Business owners have appealed the ZBA’s determination, which the City Council’s zoning and planning committee will vote on in two weeks.