Years in making, transit hub opens to cheers, ribbons

September 15th, 2012

News Coverage:

Published: September 15, 2012 3:00 a.m.

Years in making, transit hub opens to cheers, ribbons

Dan Stockman | The Journal Gazette

FORT WAYNE – Ten years after efforts to build a new downtown station began, Citilink officials cut the ribbon Friday on a new transfer hub.

Citilink General Manager Ken Housden said informal efforts actually began 16 years ago, and state Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, said it really began in the 1980s when he was mayor.

“People gathered under storefronts, and business owners were very mad,” Moses said. “The Chamber was always asking, ‘Can’t we do better?’ ”

The temporary solution then, he said, was north and south downtown transfer stations, with the south one being located where the new station is today.

“People had to stand out in the cold and the wet and the rain,” Moses said. But no more: “What Citilink has done is put together a first-class, beautiful transfer station.”

The $4.4 million station features a waiting room heated and cooled by a geothermal system, has restrooms, a place to buy tickets and a screen showing arrival and departure times. Officials said 80 percent of the cost was paid for by federal transit funds.

Board Chairman Fred Lanahan said Citilink looked at seven different sites before settling on the one it already owned on Baker Street between Harrison and Calhoun streets. It has roofs over the bus parking area, and lots of benches.

“This is going to be really, really good for the riders,” Lanahan said.

He said Citilink provided 2.2 million rides last year, and the agency hopes to entice Greyhound to locate its station there and to get passenger rail service to return to the Baker Street Station across the street. Several parking spaces will be designated for passenger drop-off and pickup, taxis and Countilink buses.

“We want to make this a true transit center,” Lanahan said.