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Amtrak to Ditch Depot Use

By Lloyd Jojola

Albuquerque Journal

Monday, April 22, 2002

Sun Tran buses should start using the Alvarado Transportation Center in a few weeks, culminating the project’s first phase and allowing the city to turn its attention to the next — a proposed joint-use depot for Greyhound and Amtrak.

But even before the design work begins, Amtrak appears to have abandoned the concept, which could result in the project being scaled back, according to a city transit official and a Greyhound executive.

“As you may be aware, Amtrak is going through some restructuring. They have indicated to Greyhound that at this time they are not interested in participating as a tenant in the joint-use depot,” said Bruce Rizzieri, acting director for the Transit Department. “So we’re re-evaluating what our options are in how to address that issue and how to proceed.”

An Amtrak spokesman in Chicago who was asked about the project referred the Journal to Greyhound.

Chris Ensenberger, vice president of real estate for Greyhound, said Amtrak notified the city by letter that it was no longer interested in the project.

“They just went silent all of a sudden, then we never heard from them again,” he said. “We were having joint meetings with the city and the city’s architect and all the different players.”

He also said, “We’re kind of disappointed because we really would like to move forward and because of Amtrak’s situation, it’s been kind of on hold.”

The original concept had Amtrak sharing roughly half of the facility, which would be located south of the existing transportation center at First and Central.

“So the question has to be determined: Do you go ahead and build it out as a ‘build it and they will come’ thing or do you go back to the drawing board and start over and just design an inter-city bus facility and plan them out of it,” Ensenberger said.

Rizzieri said “the size obviously would be scaled back because you wouldn’t have that one tenant in it.”

The depot could be designed for future expansion if Amtrak or another railroad carrier wanted to use the site.

A detailed design of the second phase has yet to start, Rizzieri said.

“We were just getting ready to begin the design process for this phase when I found out that Greyhound has said Amtrak said ‘no,’ ” he said. He said he learned of the decision late last year.

At this point, the cost or size of the second phase is not clear, although some local and federal funding has been identified.

Last year, city officials approved a lease agreement with Greyhound to operate a terminal at the center. It allows Greyhound to seek sublease agreements with Amtrak and other potential users of the depot, and the city would get a portion of the net revenue from subleases, according to previous news reports.

Under the agreement, Greyhound is to contribute $1 million to the construction of the transportation center and give the city its existing bus terminal.

“The value of our property plus the $1 million contribution was basically looked at prepaid rent for 40 years,” Ensenberger said.

If the project is reduced in size, the deal Greyhound has with the city might have to be modified, he said.