Deals have been struck to bring both long-distance and regional public transit bus service to a new transportation hub that is opening next month in western Massachusetts.
Bringing Peter Pan Bus Lines service to Union Station along with the Springfield-based company’s ticketing and dispatch operations is extremely important to the success of the new intermodal transportation center, according to Mayor Domenic Sarno.
"You are going to have thousands of individuals going in and out of Union Station, so you are going to have a ready market there," said Sarno.
Union Station is scheduled to reopen on June 26 following a years-long $95 million restoration.
Peter Pan, which has 100 arrivals and departures in Springfield daily with 1 million passengers a year, will use nine of the 27 open-air bus bays in the new terminal. The company is also renting space for a drivers’ lounge.
Terms of the contract agreement with Peter Pan have not been disclosed pending final approval by the board of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, which owns Union Station.
The SRA board previously approved a contract for almost $380,000 annually with the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority to use Union Station as its Springfield hub. PVTA buses will arrive and depart from 18 of the bus berths. The regional transit authority’s customer service center will also be located in the station.
Officials say more than 90 percent of the 11,000 square feet of available space on the ground floor of Union Station is now spoken for. There will be ticketing counters for Amtrak and future train service from Metro-North.
Three of the four available retail storefronts in the station have been leased by Dunkin Donuts, a Subway restaurant, and Commuters Variety, a convenience store that sells merchandise geared for travelers.
There will be kiosks for car rentals, a cell phone store, and a sunglass shop.
Of the 64,000 square feet of commercial space available for rent on the second floor of Union Station, just 8,200 square feet has been leased. But Sarno is optimistic that more tenants will move in soon.
" We are very hopeful that Peter Pan's corporate offices could be on the second level and we are discussing with new ( PVTA) administrator Sandra Sheehan the possibility of the PVTA administrative offices being there," Sarno said in an interview Tuesday.
SRA Director Christopher Moskal said the goal is to collect enough revenue from leasing space in Union Station so the city’s taxpayers will not have to cover an operating deficit for the building.
" We are also fortunate the city was able to negotiate with MGM in the host community agreement dollars that go toward this project. So it will be $500,000 a year for 15 years," explained Moskal.
Union Station was built in 1926. Following the decline in passenger train travel, it closed in the 1970s and was abandoned. The interior of the building deteriorated badly because of holes in the roof.
Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal first promised to reopen and revitalize the station as a candidate for Springfield City Council in 1977. Decades later he kept his promise after securing through earmarks most of the money for the project.