Roanoke went from Virginia’s oldest bus station to its newest on Monday when Valley Metro opened the Third Street station.
At a cost of $17.3 million for land, construction and professional services, the new bus center has been Valley Metro’s biggest undertaking in years. Eight years of planning have gone into the new hub, where buses run back and forth at least every hour six days a week.
One satisfied customer was Robert Cassidy, who put one hand on a light fixture and the other on a cane, next to the new mulch and plants.
“I am a public transport enthusiast. I haven’t owned a car since 2013,” he said, describing himself as a civil engineer. “I think it’s time for the government to spend more money on average people.”
Amenities such as touchless door openers and a water bottle refill station set the Third Street Station apart from its predecessor Campbell Court, which had become antiquated and damp after 35 years of use.
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“It’s a big difference, a lot nicer,” Laurie Ellenwood said just before boarding a bus home from work.
Natural light illuminated the employee break room, from which driver Charles Taylor exited through a swinging door into the lobby.
” That’s really nice. I like it,” he said. “Very up to date. Everything is nice and clean. »
Chris Spencer from Roanoke remarked on the comfortable interior temperature, which was 74 degrees according to a display. “It’s a lot better than the old station,” said Spencer, who uses an electric wheelchair. “It’s better to settle down.”
Walking does not require going up or down sidewalks as there are ramps. The doors open automatically in response to a hand gesture in front of a sensor. There are two water fountains, one standard and one low, plus the bottle filler, between the men’s and women’s restrooms. They are equipped with touchless sinks and hand dryers.
Valley Metro continued its practice of having an armed guard on the premises of the new location.
The bus service, operated for the city by First Transit, left its old terminal on Campbell Avenue near Jefferson Street in February and moved into trailers for several months. Crews demolished most of the old station and started a mixed-use project that is still ongoing.
Using those trailers, Valley Metro has occupied nearly two acres of land at Third Street and Salem Avenue — its new downtown site adjacent to the Virginia Museum of Transportation — for most of this year. Runners could see through a fence the new facilities being built, but had to wait until Monday to get inside.
Crews will remain busy at the terminal to complete a number of installations, such as computer screens in the boarding area and televisions in the lobby. Lobby chairs did not arrive, but 14 temporary chairs were in place. The bus service has mapped its new campus and building on its website.
Although major construction has been completed, work will also continue at the site until mid-2023 to complete a covered outdoor boarding platform and a separate Greyhound bus station.
“We’re far from done,” said installation supervisor Gary Bannister.
A ticket costs $1.75 and includes a transfer. Buses run in Roanoke, Salem, and Vinton, but don’t go further into Roanoke County than Tanglewood Mall.