COOLIDGE — Greyhound may be calling it quits with Casa Grande — a move that could potentially have a big impact on a regional transit system.
The intercity bus service has announced that it will no longer have a stop within the city of Casa Grande. And the decision may bring a Coolidge-operated transportation system to its knees.
The decision comes after a long ordeal that began in the summer, when Casa Grande City Council members voted against allowing the bus service to continue operations at the Chevron station at Trekell and Kortsen roads.
Since then, Greyhound has been engrossed in a scramble to seek a new location that fits both the city’s zoning requirements and the company’s structural needs.
In order for Greyhound to operate a stop in an area, the selected location must meet a number of criteria, said Coolidge Grants Coordinator Ernie Feliz.
For Greyhound, stops must include access to food and drink, and must also include staff that can handle store freight since it is among the services the transportation system provides.
Now, Greyhound will likely be taking its regional stop to Eloy.
Back in October, Casa Grande city officials said they were hopeful that the Greyhound bus stop could find a home at 24/7 Fitness on Trekell Road.
But two months later an agreement does not seem to have been reached, and now Greyhound is pulling out of Casa Grande all together.
The news left Coolidge city officials feeling slightly duped, as the move may not only displace riders that depend on the Greyhound transportation services but also local riders who rely on Coolidge’s Central Arizona Regional Transit system, or CART.
“Casa Grande has told some of our (Coolidge) city officials that they did make an effort to help keep Greyhound in Casa Grande,” Feliz said. “If they truly wanted to keep Greyhound in their city, why has Greyhound told us it would be easier for them to relocate to Eloy rather than try to stay in Casa Grande?”
Without a Greyhound station operating in the region, CART could stand to face significant budget cuts, Feliz said.
The CART system could even stand to be cut from the books completely.
The program receives approximately $160,000 in federal grant funding. The grant is contingent upon the service’s ability to connect riders to Greyhound.
“CART system funding is dependent on meeting Greyhound,” Feliz said. “If we can’t meet Greyhound, then we can’t get funding for CART.”
CART is a product of a partnership between Coolidge, Pinal County, the town of Florence and Central Arizona College.
Riders from around the region, especially elderly citizens and those with minimal other transportation options, depend on the system to connect them to major points throughout Pinal County, such as the Pinal County Complex in Casa Grande, Banner Casa Grande Medical Center and Pinal County Superior Court in Florence.
Greyhound is currently eyeing two locations in Eloy, Feliz said. They are Love’s Travel Stop, located near Sunland Gin Road and Interstate 10, and Pilot Travel Center, 619 S. Sunshine Blvd.
But if Greyhound is unable to secure a location before the end of the year, that might spell trouble for CART.
“We have a little bit of surplus funding to run the system until then, and then it’s going to be dire,” Feliz said.
Without the ability to secure additional grant funding, CART would likely be downsized — meaning that some staff and routes could potentially be cut.
But even if Greyhound does secure a new location in Eloy soon, some CART routes would will likely be reworked to include stops in Eloy.
In addition, some stops in Casa Grande, such as the Trekell and Kortsen stop, would likely be cut from the system’s routes.
CART would likely continue to stop in areas like the Pinal County Complex and Banner Casa Grande Medical Center, but others could vary.
“All other stops in Casa Grande are pretty (much) in flux right now,” Feliz said.
However, Casa Grande City Manager Larry Rains said the city continues to work with Greyhound to help the company secure another location that both fits the city’s zoning and Greyhound’s needs, and one that will be aligned with the CART system.
A Greyhound spokeswoman told PinalCentral last week the bus provider was still looking into Casa Grande as a potential location.
“Greyhound is working diligently to secure a new location in Casa Grande,” said spokeswoman Crystal Booker. “We are actively scouting new locations, including those that have been suggested by local leadership. We enjoy serving the Casa Grande community and we are focused on ensuring our next location meets all of the requirements the city has set forth.”
Staff Writer Heather Smathers contributed to this story.