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Megabus loses Downtown stop

| Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 1:56 p.m.
Carolynne Kimball, 21 of Erie checks her cell phone while waiting for passengers to board the Megabus at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, downtown, Wednesday. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Passengers wait for the Megabus at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, downtown, Wednesday, June 6, 2012. The SEA is disallowing Megabus from using its stop under the convention center over what it says is problems with passengers littering, asking to use the bathroom and other behavior. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Lea Barats, 21, of Allentown searches through her smartphone for her Megabus ticket on Wednesday outside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review

Megabus passengers are a nuisance at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center where they board, dropping litter and asking to use the center's bathrooms, so the Sports and Exhibition Authority told the low-cost carrier to hit the road, a company official said.

"They said the convention center wasn't built to be a transit stop," said Charles Lenzner, general manager and president of Lenzner Coach Lines, who oversees Megabus' local operations.

Lenzner said SEA Executive Director Mary Conturo and other authority officials told him too many riders ask to use the Downtown center's restrooms and leave trash near the 10th Street curbside stop beneath the center, among other concerns. He noted that Megabus coaches have restrooms and said the company places a 55-gallon garbage can at its stop each day.

"They are basically using the convention center as a bus terminal, which wasn't intended for the building. It is causing some safety issues and operational problems," Conturo said.

Megabus does not pay to use the curbside stop at the convention center.

Megabus must move by June 15. The company is looking for another location, possibly at Stanwix Street and Liberty Avenue near Port Authority's Gateway Center T line station.

Lenzner doesn't think the move will hurt business. "I think because of the low cost (of fares), the public will just accept it," he said.

Megabus, which offers one-way fares for as little as $1, serves 11 cities from Pittsburgh, including New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland and Detroit. Pittsburgh is one of six hubs for Megabus, which began operating locally in 2007 and employs about 80 drivers, baggage loaders, dispatchers and mechanics.

Megabus is perhaps the most well-known of the so-called curbside operators that are experiencing strong growth nationally. The companies keep costs and fares low by relying on online booking instead of ticket agents, bus stops instead of stations and express service between major cities. A DePaul University study said curbside operators expanded service by 32 percent last year.

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