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Megabus has leased this property at 2020 E. 23rd St. as its permanent bus stop in Chattanooga. It began using it today.
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Megabus moved around to five different bus stops in Chattanooga since it first came here in 2011, dogged by complaints its loitering passengers were a nuisance.

Today, the low-cost carrier started using its sixth bus stop — which it says is permanent — on leased property at 2020 E. 23rd St. between the Waffle House and The Chatt Inn.

"We have a permanent location in Chattanooga," said Sean Hughes, director of corporate affairs for North America for Megabus.

Along with the new bus stop, Megabus next week will expand its service here, Hughes said, and add a route from Atlanta through Chattanooga, Knoxville and Christiansburg, Va., to Washington, D.C.

"We're really excited — not only having a new place, but adding onto our route," he said.

Megabus will keep its current route here that runs through Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, Louisville, Ky., Indianapolis, Ind., and Chicago.

The low-cost carrier is known for its double-decker buses, fares that start at $1 and curbside stops, because it has no bus terminals.

The curbside stops caused problems in Chattanooga.

In May, Megabus said it would leave its fourth bus stop at West Main and Chestnut streets near Finley Stadium, after the city asked it to leave because loitering Megabus passengers drew complaints, including from the owners of nearby T-Bone's Sports Cafe.

Similar complaints caused Megabus to move earlier from its third stop, at the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority's Shuttle Park South next to the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. Before that, Megabus had stopped at the Eastgate Town Center in Brainerd. Its first stop in 2011 was at South Terrace Plaza along Interstate 24 in East Ridge.

However, there was an effort to keep Megabus here, including by those who felt it provided a needed service for low-income residents.

Megabus was offered a temporary bus stop in June at 709 S. Beech St. near the century-old, 40,000-square-foot St. Andrews Center.

The effort was led by Brian Merritt, the executive director of Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center, a ministry of the Presbytery of East Tennessee that's housed in the St. Andrews Center and says it is devoted to social justice work.

"He reached out to Megabus multiple times, facilitated most of the city requirements and really spearheaded the campaign," said Emerson Burch, president of the Highland Park Neighborhood Association.

Burch used a survey to gather neighbor feedback on the temporary stop.

"The vast majority of respondents were really positive and supportive of our neighborhood hosting the temporary stop, though there were a couple of concerns," Burch said.

Hughes thanked Megabus supporters here, which he said included Mercy Junction, the Highland Park Neighborhood Association, Highland Park Commons and Redemption Point Church.

"We had our struggles in Chattanooga," he said, "These four groups... welcomed us."

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu @timesfreepress.com or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or twitter.com/meetfor business or 423-757-6651.

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