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Deal would put Greyhound back at depot

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Posted: Friday, July 8, 2005 10:00 pm

Thanks to a deal with the city, its transit operator and Greyhound, a local ticket agent should be back in business in a week or two.

Currently the Greyhound office is closed and shuttered with a sign reading closed for service and it has been that way for the past few weeks, after Greyhound cut loose its own Lodi ticket agent.

Lodi residents wanting to ride the bus have had to buy their tickets online or through a ticket agent in another city.

Lodi Transportation Manager Tiffani Fink said Friday that contract details are being finalized, but the deal should put a ticket agent back at the Lodi Depot and a little more change in the city's coffers.

Fink said Lodi and Greyhound have been in negotiations since the bus company terminated its contract with its own ticket agent. The two sides have been working to arrange a deal to keep service at the city's intermodal center near the intersection of Oak and Sacramento streets.

In the agreement approved by the City Council at its meeting Wednesday, the city will have its transit operator, MV Transportation Inc., provide Greyhound ticket service.

Lodi approved a three-year, $5 million contract with the Fairfield-based MV in 2003 for the company to operate the city's GrapeLine and Dial-a-Ride services.

Fink said a few additional details such as obtaining additional equipment and training for MV employees have to be taken care of before people can buy Greyhound tickets in person, in Lodi once again.

Until then, folks can go to http://www.greyhound.com to buy tickets.

She added it also hasn't been decided if the service will be offered out of Greyhound's current location or at the GrapeLine Depot.

The agreements stipulates that Lodi and MV will split the 15 percent commission on each ticket sale. That could mean anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 a year for the city, possibly more depending on ticket sales.

Previously the city had made a little more than $5,000 annually off rent from Greyhound, Fink said.

Greyhound's location in Lodi has uncertain for years. In July of 2003 the city threatened to evict the bus service from the depot after it learned that the service hadn't been paying its rent on time.

The independent ticket agent at the time, Cheryl Lafebre, contended it was simply a misunderstanding and set up a debit account so payments would be deducted automatically.

But last August, the council voted to terminate Lafebre's lease because she had been late again in making the monthly $435 rent. When council members made that vote they also directed city staff to work with Greyhound to try and maintain bus service for Lodi.

Fink said at the same time Greyhound was evaluating its service in California. That resulted in cutting Manteca's bus service.

"We wanted to keep the service while they were going through this," Fink said of Greyhoun's service audit.

Corporate Greyhound staff couldn't commit to a plan and so Fink said Lodi ended up staying with the contracted ticket agent on a month-to-month basis until it could reach an agreement with Greyhound.

"All the while we've been working to get to the point where we were Wednesday night," Fink said.

Contact reporter Andrew Adams at andrewa@lodinews.com.

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