Protesters will gather outside Southridge Mall Thursday. They’re upset with its plan to move all bus stops off the premises – starting in November.
Maria Gonzalez is about to board a bus on S. 76th Street near Southridge. She says she and her two kids often take the bus to the mall.
She’s upset it will soon eliminate the stops at entrances, forcing shoppers to walk to and from the perimeter of the property.
“The same rights that everybody has to park in their parking lot are the same rights the bus should have for us to get off right there by the mall,” Gonzalez says.
Gonzalez notes there’s plenty of other shopping along 76th street near bus stops and says she’ll take her business elsewhere if the owners of Southridge implement their plan.
Mary Mokwa doubts the mall will lose significant business from people upset about the bus stop changes. Mokwa manages the mall for the Simon Property Group of Indianapolis. She predicts shoppers will adjust to the new policy, and it will be safer than the existing arrangement.
“Currently where the bus stops are located, 150 buses every day intersect with all pedestrian traffic at four of our main mall entrances and the loading dock and that creates a significant risk,” Mokwa says.
While Mokwa cites safety concerns, so does Rick Bassler. He’s president of the local bus drivers union and is organizing today’s protest. Bassler says he’s concerned about the safety of bus riders.
“Where they want to move the bus stop is where the Route 46 stop is now, it’s on the outer perimeter of Southridge by Edgerton, there’s a bank over there and the problem is there’s no sidewalk. With people in wheelchairs, there are trees, so you have cars that are swinging around there and this is very unsafe,” Bassler says.
Bassler says the approaching holiday shopping season will multiply the number of shoppers crossing the parking lot.
Manager Mary Mokwa says the mall’s been talking with the Village of Greendale and the Milwaukee County Transit System about what would work for all parties involved. She believes they’ve come up with an effective plan.
“There will be a designated crosswalk that will provide safe access for bus riders, also the Transit Plus program will still be available and will still be able to stop at the main mall entrances as they always have been and we’re going to offering assistance by our security force for anyone who needs assistance from the bus stop to get to the mall,” Mokwa says.
A few years ago, Southridge considered moving bus stops off the premises, but changed course after public criticism.