NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Wave Transit has been facing serious financial issues even before the coronavirus pandemic reached the region, but thanks to a federal relief package, the transportation authority will be awarded nearly $7 million.
Many federal awards require local governments to match their donation or at least a portion of it. However, that is not the case this time and the city and the county will not need to pay anything more in order for WAVE to get the funding.
“The Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority has been awarded $6,856,517 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. Federal Transit Administration funding will be provided at a 100 percent federal share, with no local match required, and will be available to support capital, operating, and other expenses generally eligible under those programs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19,” according to a press release from Wave Transit.
Executive Director Albert Eby said, “Funding from the CARES Act will allow Wave Transit access to valuable financial resources as the Authority responds to the novel coronavirus pandemic.”
During the Covid-19 crisis, there have been plenty of closures of both private and government-funded programs, but Wave Transit has been deemed an essential service and has continued to operate — even going as far as waiving fees for riders.
“CARES Act funding will help offset increased costs to ensure that Wave buses and vans are sanitized and cleaned in accordance with CDC recommendations” Eby continued. “Additionally, lost revenue from providing fare-free service to promote social distancing and reductions in revenue contracts will be reduced by the CARES Act.”
As previously mentioned, Wave Transit has been through some pretty significant changes in the past six months, after the county announced it would pull funding from the program. The transit system was already facing a more than $745,000 deficit before the county made its announcement to suspend funding for the authority.
The allocation of the nearly $7 million will surely help Wave Transit and customers, but also taxpayers.
“This important allocation will allow Wave Transit to finish its current fiscal year without additional local taxpayer subsidies. It will also offset expenses incurred by the Authority in future fiscal years as the region recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the press release.