City transit officials hope to start construction next year on a $7 million renovation that aims to make the Moore Square bus station more inviting while accomodating expanded service.
Raleigh Transit Authority board members got a look at the architect’s plans for the bus hub last week. Highlights of the upgrade include new bathrooms, a central ticketing window with a big screen for arrival and departure times and a third bus lane.
Architect Steve Schuster said the current layout of the station creates a “fairly hard, fairly cold environment ... it’s not a very inviting place.”
In the new design, services will be centered around a walkway that connects from Wilmington Street to the Moore Square park. The elevator and staircase to the parking deck above will be replaced, and so will the bathrooms.
“You’ve got to really want to use the restrooms today to go into those rooms,” Schuster said. The new bathrooms, he said, will be “maintained well, so it really provides a service – not just to the customers of the bus service but to downtown.”
The renovation will also spruce up the courtyard that sits behind Wilmington and Hargett Street businesses like Joule Coffee, with the goal of creating a better environment for outdoor dining.
The additional bus lane will allow about six more buses to load and unload at once. The current configuration doesn’t have enough room for an ever-expanding transit service, so some routes pick up riders on surrounding streets – a process that can be confusing to new transit users.
But with a new bus station planned for the Warehouse District for train connections at Union Station, Capital Area Transit could eventually drop the third lane if traffic at Moore Square decreases. The city might also eliminate an entryway onto Blount Street next to the Tir Na Nog pub.
That property, according to transit administrator David Eatman, would be transferred back to private developers, and there’s even talk of a hotel on that site. “Private sector development would drive those decisions,” Eatman said.
In addition to the new bus bays, the station will get a new canopy and seating at each pick-up location, creating a more open environment while protecting riders from the weather.
Eatman says nearly 70 percent of the funding for the project is already in place. The city will apply for federal funds to make up the difference this fall.
“Our intent is to have executed grants in place the first quarter of the new calendar year, which would fall right in line with our design” and allow construction to start next summer, he said.
Construction will take about a year, but the station will remain open during the process. “That costs dollars, but you can’t shut down the station while we make it better,” Schuster said.