LIMA — After half a dozen years at a site on Harding Highway east of Lima, Greyhound Bus Lines in 2002 returned to downtown Lima, moving into new quarters in the RTA building on the corner of High Street and Central Avenue — a stone throw from the site of the city’s first bus terminal.
That original bus terminal, on East High Street on the south side of the Barr Hotel, opened nearly 74 years earlier. “In addition to the spacious room for depot purposes, the banquet hall of the Barr Hotel will be used to serve bus line patrons as well as the general public,” The Lima News wrote Dec. 14, 1928. “An entrance has been cut thru from the station (to the banquet hall).”
Lima, long a hub of passenger railroads and the electric interurban railways, had, by December 1928, become “an important center for motor bus traffic,” the News noted. Eighty-four passenger buses a day stopped in Lima and the number was climbing.
For their part, some railroads and interurban lines went with an if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em strategy. “Lima will become a transfer point when the bus-rail travel service between New York and Chicago is inaugurated by the Pennsylvania railroad-Greyhound bus lines April 1,” the News reported March 20, 1930. “The new service will be planned so that passengers may travel by rail at night and bus by day with transfer points established at Lima and Harrisburg (Pennsylvania). The service will be inaugurated between Chicago and New York and Chicago and Philadelphia.” It was thought the buses would afford better sightseeing opportunities.
Both the Western Ohio and Cincinnati and Lake Erie interurban lines got more directly into the bus business, with the C.&L.E. enjoying more success. The C.&L.E. bus line, like the company’s interurban line, served Lima. Begun in 1923 as the highway-coach subsidiary of the C.&L.E. Railroad, which ended operations in 1939, the bus line survived until April 1946 when it was acquired by Greyhound.
Along with the intercity bus line, Greyhound also received three city bus lines owned by the C.&L.E., including Lima City Lines Inc. In November 1946, stock control of the Lima City Lines was acquired by local owners.
Plagued with parking problems at its Barr Hotel terminal, Greyhound in 1936 joined the remaining interurban line at a site just a block south. “Establishment of a passenger bus terminal in the Interurban Building, Market Street and Central Avenue, to begin operation August 15, was announced Monday,” the News reported July 20, 1936. “Bus lines to operate in and out of the terminal will include the Pennsylvania and Ohio Greyhound, Arcodel Lines, Greenville-Dayton, Northern Ohio, Lima-Ada and the C.&L.E. bus and rail lines.”
The News estimated the new terminal would handle more than 100 buses and interurban cars a day and 1,500 passengers. After November 1937, with the departure of the last interurban car, the bus lines had the Interurban Building to themselves.
The News approved of the move to the Interurban Building, citing the traffic problems at the Barr Hotel site. “Another pleasant feature will be removal of parked buses from streets already congested with traffic,” the newspaper wrote. “This parking situation is especially hazardous and inconvenient to the public at the present Greyhound Station on East High Street, with complications added by the near proximity of police headquarters and Central fire stations.” The police and fire stations were in the 200 block of East High Street.
Meanwhile, the old Greyhound terminal at the Barr Hotel did not remain vacant for long. On Aug. 30, 1936, the News wrote that “A new bus depot for east-west bus travel has been opened by Lincoln Trailways. … The Lincoln Trailways terminal is located in the Barr building site formerly occupied by the Greyhound Bus Lines.”
In 1949, the Greyhound station again moved, this time into a building designed for that use. “Excavating for a new $250,000 bus terminal and garage on North West Street, will start Monday, Aug. 16,” the News reported Aug. 5, 1948. “Part of the station will be two stories high with restrooms on the second floor. A restaurant and offices will be located on the first floor as well as the ticket office and waiting room.” The story added that “a horseshoe drive will be constructed around the new station with buses entering and leaving the property by way of West Street.”
The old interurban building, in the meantime, had been purchased by the city of Lima and today still houses some city offices.
A year after groundbreaking, Lima’s gleaming new Greyhound station opened in the 200 block of North West Street. “Chief eye attraction in the interior of the new Greyhound bus station is the waiting room,” the News wrote Aug. 17, 1949. “Color harmony is provided in tones of dusty rose, peach and brown. Around the ceiling is a plaster mold finished in grey.
“The room, about 36 by 60 feet, contains seats for about 64 persons. To the north are ticket windows, baggage room and assistant superintendent’s office. To the south are stairs leading to the restrooms, entrance to the restaurant and a news stand.”
In 1954, the Lima station was still a busy place. “In addition to the Greyhound system, two other bus lines use the Lima terminal — Buckeye Stages Inc., which runs from Lima to Sandusky, and Dayton-Greenville Bus Co., which runs from Lima to Fort Wayne,” the News wrote Dec. 31, 1954. “Each day there are 44 trips either originating here or ending here or passing through Lima.”
Three years later, barely eight years after it opened, Greyhound sold the terminal to First Federal Saving and Loan and moved again. On Dec. 16, 1957, Lima bus manager Paul Goes told the News the decision was “due to a lack of schedules in and out of Lima. That’s partly due to the turnpike which keeps new routings out of Lima.”
On April 21, 1958, Greyhound leased a former dairy bar on the northeast corner of Market and Jackson streets and remodeled it. The new terminal was dedicated Aug. 3, 1958, and would serve as Lima’s Greyhound station for more than a quarter century.
In September 1995, the manager of the station told the News that Greyhound was considering moving the station closer to I-75 to save the driving time between the highway and downtown. However, when Greyhound made the move official a month later, another reason was given for the move — fear of “crime and fear for the safety of its customers,” according to the Oct. 25, 1995, edition of the News. City officials disputed the claim.
At that time, the News reported, five buses stopped at the station daily with approximately 100 customers using the station.
When the RTA building opened in the late 1990s, city officials began an effort to lure the bus line back to downtown which finally succeeded in 2002.