Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Walmart moves WATA bus stop in favor of online grocery pickup

Walmart has moved its WATA bus stop from one side of the store to the other to make room for the store's new online grocery pickup service. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)
Walmart has moved its WATA bus stop from one side of the store to the other to make room for the store’s new online grocery pickup service. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)

The Walmart store on East Rochambeau Drive in Williamsburg has moved its Williamsburg Area Transit Authority bus stop to make way for the store’s new online grocery pickup program.

Earlier this month, WATA moved the stop and shelter from the grocery side of the store to the edge of the garden center, closer to Lowe’s, WATA spokeswoman Michele Canty said.

The move means eight new grocery pickup parking spots have replaced the stop for buses on the north side of the Walmart building. WATA’s bus shelter at the stop was taken down in mid-April and the bus stop signs have been moved to the opposite side of the store.

Online grocery pickup is expected to be available to Walmart customers May 15, store manager Amanda Hairfield said.

The new bus stop location is now in use, Canty said.

At an April 18 board of directors meeting, WATA Deputy Executive Director Josh Moore said the transportation authority was notified in early April that the stop would need to be moved.

Canty provided WYDaily with information from WATA’s public meeting on April 18, as meeting minutes are not yet available on the WATA website.

The Walmart stop is one of the transit authority’s busiest locations, Canty said. Four  bus lines — purple 1, purple 2, tan and blue — make stops at the store at least once every hour. WATA has 12 bus lines total and gave about 935,000 rides last year.

While the new stop has been in service since April 16, some aspects of the new stop are still in the works.

The new stop along the outside edge of the store’s garden center does not have a shelter, Canty said.

WATA Transit Planner Ben Goodill said there are no plans yet to add a shelter at the new bus stop. Goodill maintains WATA system maps, monitors and grades bus stops and works with contractors to build shelters and replace signs.

Walmart has moved its WATA bus stop from one side of the store to the other to make room for the store's new online grocery pickup service. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)
Walmart has moved its WATA bus stop from one side of the store to the other to make room for the store’s new online grocery pickup service. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)

“The space is very limited and we are not sure yet if additional changes to the stop may occur,” Goodill said. “Of course this is private property as well so sometimes it just takes time to work out the details.”

Hairfield said the new stop is Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible and will ideally have a shelter.

“The new stop was obviously not built originally for hosting our buses, but we do have some ADA accessibility,” Goodill said. “WATA will be continuing to work with Wal-Mart staff to establish the safest and most convenient stop that the landscape will accommodate.”

WATA has also been working to plan its own bus hub near Walmart, but initial stages of construction may not start for at least 13 months, Kimley-Horn consultant Rick Nau said at the board of directors meeting.

Goodill said there are always safety concerns with any new bus stop because of traffic’s interaction with the new bus activity.

Walmart considered other areas for the online grocery pickup parking spaces, but customer and associate safety factored into the final location choice, Hairfield said.

The pickup location needed to be out of the way of parking lot traffic but also near the grocery side of the store, Hairfield said.

Walmart employees are participating in nationwide training activities for the new online grocery pickup.

WATA is working with Walmart to ensure the stop works “with the best interests of all parties,” and Walmart has been “very cordial and willing to help out” with the transition.

“We would like to thank our patrons for bearing with us as we go through this change,” Goodill said. “We understand that the situation is a little bit different than what is normally expected, but we appreciate your patience as we work through this.”

For more information on Walmart’s online pickup service, visit the Walmart website.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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