'Megabus' stop stirring up controversy in Mpls.

4:05 PM, Mar 31, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - Several times a day, dozens of people with suitcases congregate at a parking lot in downtown Minneapolis.

They're drawn by low-cost bus rides to Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago.

But their bus stop has no shelter, which is stirring up some controversy.

For as much as $41 or as little as a buck, folks are willing to brave the elements for a cheap ride to Chicago on the Megabus.

But some passengers haven't been so brave.

Passenger Matt Christie, heading back to school in Madison, said, "I think if you're going to charge cheap ticket prices, it makes sense that you might not be able to offer such commodities as a shelter."

The Megabus stop is a parking lot with just two porta-potties and no shelter at 3rd Street and Chicago Avenue, near the Metrodome.

Passenger Kelsey Koch uses the Megabus to go back and forth to college in Chicago.  She said, "I mean it would be nice in the winter to just like have a place to stand like you know."

Frequent passenger Quentez Lumpkin said, "[As] long as I... get here right before the bus leaves, I'm alright."

The problem is that some are seeking sanctuary nearby.

Documents from the City of Minneapolis show businesses in a nearby Washington Avenue building have complained of "littering, loitering, excessive non-customer use of the bathrooms."

Still, one business there, Wasabi Sushi, likes the Megabus.  J.R., one of the chefs, said, "Everybody have a different opinion so we have to respect that."

He said while a few Megabus passengers wait inside and don't buy anything, the bus brings paying customers too.

He said, "Sometimes they come here to have some cocktails while they are waiting for the bus, plus they're having some dinner here once in a while."

Mike Alvich, vice president of marketing and public relations for Megabus.com, owned by Coach U.S.A., said it is working with the City of Minneapolis to find a solution.

Alvich said, "Right now we're engaged in conversation with the City of Minneapolis in looking at a number of alternative locations.  In the mean time, the city has allowed us to continue at our current stop."

Until then, he said they are bringing in busses earlier so people can get on and warm up.

Minneapolis city officials were unavailable for comment on Saturday.

Megabus has reason to want to work with the city.

Minneapolis is proving to be good for business.

They currently run 8 busses on weekend days and 5 daily during the week.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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