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North Little Rock bus station’s closing nearly puts bus riders out in heat

Mayor intervenes; line finds passengers hotel rooms by Neal Earley | July 20, 2022 at 7:06 a.m.

As of last week, Greyhound Lines' bus station in North Little Rock has been closed, but news from the company does not always run on schedule.

Whether it was a miscommunication or poor planning, Tuesday afternoon turned into a travel day from hell, as a group of four travelers were almost left stranded at Greyhound's former bus station on Washington Avenue in North Little Rock. The four were to be left at the corner of Riverfront Drive and South Poplar Street until North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick arrived.

Hartwick said he was driving by the bus station when he saw the four standing on the curb. The city had just taken possession of the property a few days earlier. The station was closed, so travelers had to stand outside during what the National Weather Service called an "excessive heat warning," with a heat index of 114 degrees.

The four had arrived from Branson, Mo., on a Jefferson Lines bus, a regional coach company based in Minneapolis, but all had booked their tickets through Greyhound. They were all traveling to different destinations, but one thing they had in common was they were supposed to make a connection in North Little Rock.

But since their bus arrived late, none of them made their connection and instead were left to bask in the sultry July temperatures while they contemplated what to do next.

The passengers said if it was not for North Little Rock's mayor, they would have been left at the closed station without a connecting bus.

"They were just going to leave us here," said Richard Harris, a regular Greyhound customer who was traveling back home to Memphis.

Kathie Rippey was traveling back home to Iowa after visiting her son in Fayetteville. Before getting on the bus to North Little Rock, Rippey knew she would miss her connection after the bus driver told her she was unsure whether her connection would wait for her in North Little Rock.

"I was kind of like, I'm stranded in Missouri or I am stranded here," Rippey said.

It was about a year ago when Greyhound agreed to sell its bus station to the city of North Little Rock for $665,000. As a part of the deal, the city agreed to lease the station to Greyhound for an additional 12 months.

"I gave them a year to find a spot," Hartwick said. "They're dropping them off on the street corner with no water, no bathroom. That ain't right."

After pushback from Hartwick and talking with Jefferson Lines higher-ups, the bus driver, Anna Lawson, announced she would take the four to Pine Bluff, where the company would pay for a hotel room for each of them.

Lawson explained her boss would contact Greyhound to figure out how to get the passengers to the final destination, saying "I don't know what Greyhound is doing, but Jefferson is going to help you." But the announcement from Lawson prompted more questions.

"Why do I need to go to Pine Bluff, when my connection is here," Harris said.

When one passenger asked about food, the driver had no answer. Later, Hartwick handed a one hundred dollar bill to pay for the passengers' meals.

Hartwick was angry that despite the lease with the city expiring, it failed to inform partner bus companies that the bus station was no longer operational and that it needed to find a new place to pick up and drop off passengers.

A representative for Jefferson Lines could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening. A spokesperson for Greyhound said she was looking into the matter but did not comment further.

The city has plans to demolish the bus station in the coming weeks and hopes to sell the land to a developer who may build a high-rise hotel, meaning Greyhound will have to find a new station in the Little Rock area.

According to Greyhound's website, it uses the corner of South Poplar Street and Riverfront Drive.

The sale of their North Little Rock bus station was part of a larger trend from Greyhound, as the company has looked to save money. Instead, the company has partnered with businesses to take on the role as its new stops.

"I would think giving them a year notice that we're going to take this over they would of had a plan by now," Hartwick said.

Print Headline: Station’s closing nearly puts bus riders out in heat


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