City, New Hanover County Announce Restructuring Of Bus System

City, New Hanover County Announce Restructuring Of Bus System

City, New Hanover County Announce Restructuring Of Bus System

By / Local News / Tuesday, 07 January 2020 16:23

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

NEW HANOVER CTY - New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington held a press conference on Tuesday November 7th, to announce an effort to restructure WAVE Transit (Also known as Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority).

According to Jessica Loeper with New Hanover County, at a press conference Tuesday, New Hanover County and City of Wilmington officials announced a collaboration to evaluate and potentially restructure Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority (currently doing business as WAVE), to enhance public transit for the community.
"The transportation system we have today is not the one we need for the future," said County Commission Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. "So the county and city are going to work together over the coming year and a half to build a system that strengthens public transportation and creates a more sustainable model – focusing on transportation equity, the rider’s needs, innovation in services, and our community’s goals."

According to the County, "During this process, the interlocal agreement between the county and city will be rebuilt with new priorities, including a transportation model that: balances convenience with coverage, so routes are operated where there is the highest use and greatest need; embraces innovation; includes paratransit services county-wide; partners with other governments to equitably share in the cost for services to those communities; utilizes available revenue to ensure predictable and sustainable funding; and incorporates a governance body in keeping with the city and county’s priorities."

"All of this work will take time, so we hope to have a new structure and interlocal agreement that all of our governing bodies can agree to by July 2021," said City of Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo. "While these changes are evaluated, we want to ensure our community that WAVE buses will keep running and there will be no lapse in current services."

According to the County, "Both the County Commission and City Council will consider a joint resolution at their second meetings in January to officially begin this process and confirm their commitment to public transportation. There will be opportunities for public input throughout the process and the community will continue to be kept informed."

WAVE Transit previously requested the Town of Carolina Beach increase budget appropriations in fiscal year 2020 by $1,800 in addition to the current appropriation of $10,244. The money is used to help fund a WAVE bus route that connects Carolina Beach to Wilmington and New Hanover County.

Albert Eby - Executive Director, Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority- Wave Transit - explained late last month, "On Monday, October 21, 2019, the New Hanover County Commissioners moved to withdraw its support from the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority.  After a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority on October 24, 2019, no immediate action was taken to modify services offered by Wave Transit.  All routes and services will continue without interruption until further notice."

The decision of the County Board of Commissioners will reduce WAVE's operating budget by approximately $330,000 a year. WAVE has already indicated they are facing an approximate $750,000 annual shortfall.   

Eby said a public hearing would be scheduled for November 21, 2019 to hear from the public regarding the following changes to service offered by Wave Transit:
• Modify current weekday service (Monday - Friday) to end at 8:00pm
• Modify current Saturday service to begin at 9:00am and end at 6:00pm The proposed changes will were considered by the Board of Directors on November 21, 2019.

Many routes on Saturday start at 6am and end at 9pm. Monday thru Friday routes run 6am and end at 9pm.

Eby explained on October 31st, 2019, "As the Authority began efforts to develop an operating budget for FY 2020, revenue shortfalls to provide the current level of transit service throughout the region became evident.  In March 2019 the Authority began discussion with its authorizing entities, the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County, to develop a plan to head off a looming funding crisis."

He explained, "As discussions progressed, it became apparent that the complexity of federal, state and local transit subsidies would take significant time.   These deliberations led to a proposed plan that would minimize the impact to Wave passengers and keep requests for additional appropriations from funding partners to a minimum.   On October 24, 2019 the Board of the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority unanimously resolved to adopt the attached Service Reduction Recommendation plan and request supplemental appropriations from its funding partners equal to 17.29 % of their FY 2020 apportionment."

Eby explained in a letter to Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin, "On October 30, 2019 Wave Transit presented the plan to the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) Board detailing the financial challenges impacting the operation of Wave Transit. Your representative to the WMPO was in attendance at the meeting and included in the discussion.  The plan is comprised of a combination of service reductions and requests for additional local subsidies.  Subsequent to the plan, the Authority Board unanimously adopted two resolutions to begin the process to reduce services and request supplemental appropriation from its funding partners."
He explained, "Additional reports regarding the challenges faced by the Authority are available at the following URL:  https://www.wavetransit.com/documents-and-plans/ under the Plans and Studies section."

Eby explained, "Wave Transit respectfully requests consideration by the Town of Carolina Beach for a supplemental appropriation in the amount of $1,800 for FY 2020.  As noted in several of the reports regarding local operating subsidies, a long term local revenue plan for transit service in the region is critical to the uninterrupted operation of the services offered by Wave Transit.  The Authority Board is currently considering recommendations to stabilize operating revenues to present to our funding partners.  I am available to make a presentation or answer questions that you or your board may have regarding this request.  We value our partnership with the Town of Carolina Beach and appreciate your consideration of this important request."

Parvin said he will include the request on the agenda for the Town Council's January 14, 2020 meeting.

The proposed changes to route times were considered by the WAVE Board of Directors on November 21, 2019. 

Comments regarding these modifications can be received via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , by phone to (910) 343-0106, by fax to (910) 3463-8317 or in person at a public hearing scheduled for Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 12:00pm at Forden Station, 505 Cando St., Wilmington, NC 28405.   If you have questions regarding this release, please to contact us by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone, (910) 343-0106.

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