Greyhound has decided to demolish its downtown bus depot, the once-teeming terminal where Stocktonians “rode the dog” on intercity buses since 1968.
“The need for large terminals has passed,” Paul D. Egger, the regional president of Greyhound Lines, Inc., wrote to the city.
Greyhound wants to swing the wrecking ball this summer and perhaps send its remaining buses to the downtown transit center.
“Greyhound has been a member of the Stockton community for over 40 years, and as you would expect, over time the business and market has changed,” Egger wrote.
Greyhound appears to have been clobbered by cheap air fares and other transportation alternatives. A long-running Hatfield-McCoy feud with its drivers’ union didn’t help, either.
When the $1 million depot opened in ’68, it boasted 20,000 square feet, bays that could serve 10 buses at a time, the glassy (out the back, anyway) look of an airport terminal, conveyors for baggage, a coffee shop and a cocktail lounge. There was even talk of a helipad.
Buses ran 10 times a day from Stockton to Oakland and San Francisco, and 10 times to Los Angeles. You could get to Reno, cheap.
Probably many a bum was given what police used to call “Greyhound therapy,” a ticket outta here, and don’t come back, bub.
Drivers were captains of the ship. In 1990, when a woman refused to stop smoking on a trip back from Lake Tahoe, the driver marooned her on a remote road outside Placerville in chilly weather.
Drivers were also members of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 1225. The feisty union and Greyhound had many a dogfight.
In 1983, striking employees, reinforced by other union supporters, surrounded buses trying to depart Stockton. They shouted obscenities, pounded on the buses and whacked them with picket signs.
Blocking the bus didn’t work so well for a protester during a 1990 strike; the bus hit her, ran over her leg and kept on going.
Demonstrating the virtues of mass transit, young Gov. Jerry Brown stepped off an Amtrak train from Richmond that stopped in Stockton in 1977 and boarded a Greyhound bound for Sacramento.
The dog days started when Congress deregulated airlines. Cheaper fares undercut Greyhound.
One recent day, Elizabeth Appling sat outside the depot, her luggage beside her on a bench, a lone customer waiting for the doors to open so she could catch a long haul to Mississippi.
“I love to ride Greyhound,” Appling said. “You travel long distance from one state to another, you travel through the rural roads. The desert, the mountains. You see beautiful sights.”
Greyhound now carries 55 people out of Stockton a day and 55 in. You don’t need a depot and staff of five for that. The city is processing Greyhound’s application for a demolition permit.
Contact columnist Michael Fitzgerald at (209) 546-8270 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at recordnet.com/fitzgeraldblog and on Twitter @Stocktonopolis.