WILMINGTON — The Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority, better known as WAVE, will hold a public hearing next month to discuss shortening service hours.
The announcement specifically references the decision by three New Hanover County Commissioners to pull county funding for WAVE, but does not specify whether the proposed service cuts are related to the county’s withdrawal, WAVE’s pre-existing budget shortfalls, or both. According to the county the hearing has been planned since October 10, before this week’s vote.
The 3-2 vote by the Board of Commissioners on October 21 will effectively remove around $330,000 in funding, money used predominantly to fund the bus route through northern New Hanover County that serves CFCC’s north campus, the Wilmington VA clinic, the Wilmington International Airport, and the county’s detention center.
As a provision of the county’s interlocal agreement with WAVE and the City of Wilmington, the funding cuts won’t take effect until Fiscal Year 2021-2022, starting on July 1, 2021.
Prior to the vote, WAVE was already facing a budget shortfall of approximately $750,000. County Commissioners had previously shown little interest in a proposed annual $7 vehicle registration tax that would have generated around $1.3 million in additional WAVE funding each year.
According to a statement from WAVE Executive Director Albert Eby, “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.”
Eby continued, adding that a “public hearing has been scheduled for November 21, 2019, to hear from the public” regarding proposed service changes.
Those changes would include modifying weekday service to end an hour earlier (at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.) and to cut six hours from the Saturday schedule, which would start at 9 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. (You can find the full WAVE schedule here). WAVE did not mention the possibility of ending the northern bus route which the county has historically funded.
The public hearing will be held at noon on Thursday, November 21 at Forden Station, 505 Cando St. near the intersection of MLK Jr. Boulevard and North College Road.