Philadelphia’s Old City community is frustrated after the city abruptly canceled the interim bus terminal meeting

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Parents and residents of Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood were left with few answers at a community meeting about a temporary bus terminal the city might build on 2nd Street.

If approved, the bus terminal would be located in a PPA parking lot between Walnut and Chestnut streets. It would be right next to Amigos Spanish Immersion Pre-School, which serves dozens of young children during the work week.

Cloe Levin, the owner of the preschool, said the city never formally communicated to her, parents or other business owners in the area that the site was being considered. She said she only found out after seeing Greyhound buses running test routes from the site.

Levin, who said he routinely takes his young students on walks around the neighborhood, said he is now concerned that the buses will not only clog traffic on an already busy street, but also pose a safety hazard to his students.

“There are SEPTA buses every day that can’t turn from Chestnut onto 2nd Street and they get stuck there every day,” Levin said. “So I can’t imagine multiple Greyhound buses.”

Representatives from the city’s general manager’s office were supposed to hear concerns and answer questions during a community meeting at the preschool on Tuesday. However, officials decided to leave minutes before the meeting was set to begin due to concerns that members of the media, who were invited, would intimidate parents.

Sharon Gallagher, senior director of communications for the Office of the Chief Executive Officer, also added that the city thought the meeting would be private.

“This wasn’t a community meeting,” Gallagher said. “This was a meeting with parents. That’s what we were asked to do.”

Councilman Mark Squilla, who represents the 1st District, showed up and stayed to listen to the concerns of parents and community members.

Many in attendance expressed concerns about safety, health and traffic. Among them was parent Marie Carillo, who said all the smog from a bus terminal would compromise the health of both the children and the preschool staff. She expressed frustration that city representatives were not there to listen to her.

“I think if you added a lot of large buses to the road, the risk to children and teachers would increase significantly,” Carillo said. “I really wanted the opportunity to voice our concerns directly to them, so it’s disappointing that we weren’t given that opportunity tonight.”

Other parents, like Brian Kunis, said the potential site for the new bus terminal was poorly designed and said there would be greater potential for traffic accidents.

“I myself was almost hit a couple of times just by cars flipping over,” he said.

Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation and Information Systems told Action News the Old City location was one of several temporary locations the city was considering after Greyhound closed the doors of its bus terminal months ago.

A representative said nothing had been decided, but added that the city is currently looking for a short-term solution for the bus terminal because it wants something ready to accommodate visitors to the city in 2026, when the city will hold events to celebrate the nation’s 250th anniversary and host World Cup matches.

The representative said 30th Street was among the locations the city was considering for a permanent site.

That did little to calm the concerns of parents, who said they just want a long-term solution found.

“What does temporary mean? Let’s find a place that’s permanent and set it up for success,” said Sara Ronsville.

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