Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Wave Transit seeks public comment on proposed fare hike

A Wave Transit bus at the corner of Princess and North Second streets in downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/BEN BROWN)
A Wave Transit bus at the corner of Princess and North Second streets in downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/BEN BROWN)

WILMINGTON — The cost of a bus ride for one adult would rise 50 cents to $2 in Wave Transit’s proposal to raise all of its fares, but before implementation the agency is seeking public input.

The Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority (CFPTA), which operates Wave’s services, will hold a comment period that will last 90 days from September 6 and will also hold two public hearings in October at Forden Station, 505 Cando St., in Wilmington. The public may submit comments about the proposed fare increase by email to comments@wavetransit.com.

Without an answer to rising fuel and labor expenses while revenues drop, the region’s Sunday bus service could be on the line, according to a Wave press release Thursday.

A proposal from CFPTA in July to drop all Sunday bus routes in order to save $200,000 generated enough public opposition for the agency to reconsider, but it lacks an answer to an ongoing funding problem.

According to an August report the agency prepared, because Wave has no dedicated funding source – a sales tax, for example – it’s forced to look at increased subsidies or increasing fees for service.

“Unfortunately,” the report said, “expenses continue to increase and additional sources of revenue are scarce.”

The agency noted that although rising gas prices may lead to increased ridership, any associated revenue is burned through bus exhaust pipes, given the fuel expenses. And government subsidies, Wave added, are not the support system they once were.

“Recent discussions with elected officials in Raleigh indicate additional reductions in state subsidies are inevitable,” Wave’s revenue report stated. “There is some indication that support from the North Carolina General Assembly may be eliminated entirely.”

So, the pressure may be at the local level, at CFPTA, which hasn’t raised Wave’s fares since 2008.

If its proposal to raise all of its fares by 33-percent – elevating the current $1.50 bus fare for an adult to $2 – is approved, they would go into effect in February, according to Wave’s press release.

 

 

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