Thursday, June 20, 2024

Wave Transit executive director leaving post for assistant town manager position

Marie Parker has served as executive director for Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority (CFPTA), also known as Wave, since the end of 2020. By June she will transition to assistant town manager in Carrboro, North Carolina, located near Chapel Hill. (Courtesy photo)

WILMINGTON — Wave Transit announced on social media Thursday it would be losing its leader to a new position in the Triangle area.

Marie Parker has served as executive director for Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority (CFPTA), also known as Wave, since the end of 2020. By June she will transition to assistant town manager in Carrboro, North Carolina, located near Chapel Hill.

Parker’s Wave team boasted her impact during the last two-and-half years on Twitter:

“Ms. Parker’s time at Wave Transit has been transformative for the system. We are lucky to have worked under her leadership and excited to cheer her on from afar as she continues her career in Carrboro!”

The Raleigh native — formerly with GoRaleigh, Wake County’s transit system, and a graduate of N.C. State — was hired during a rocky time in the authority’s history. Wave’s board of directors were ousted along with its former executive director Albert Eby in mid 2020, due to Wave’s financial instability. Consultant TransPro was hired to find ways to stabilize the transportation system and find more efficient and fixed revenue streams.

A new board was appointed in 2020, made up of mainly county and city officials, and Parker was hired as executive director.

At the time the budget had a roughly $1.2-million deficit and was proposing cutting routes to save funds. 

By the end of 2022, Wave was operating at $11.5-million and poised to receive an additional $770,000 over the next five years in supplemental funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Additionally, $12 million in Covid-19 relief funds was allocated to the transportation system in 2020.

However, Parker said in previous PCD reporting, Wave needed continuous revenue to keep it stable. She and her team advocated for the quarter-cents transportation sales tax proposed on the 2022 ballot; in the end, it failed by 6% of votes.

Parker oversaw the public transportation authority during a critical era beyond its financial disarray. The Covid-19 pandemic posed new problems. The executive director helped break down barriers for anyone who faced transportation challenges and needed access to a vaccine appointment. She worked with local and state agencies for 10 months so Wave could provide free rides and transported more than 300 during this time.

Since, Parker has guided the redesign of Wave’s routes and network, including the launch of RideMICRO in October 2021 — similar to rideshare apps and transports passengers via large SUV or 14-person van to requested destinations for $2. It allows travelers to track their requested rides in real-time.

Parker also steered Wave toward improving its existing services, increasing on-time departure performance from 68% to 85%, and advocated to invest in capital and technological improvements.

Wave received the 2022 “Transit System of the Year” by the North Carolina Public Transportation Association (NCPTA) under her tenure.

“Under Marie Parker’s leadership, Wave is poised to further develop a sustainable and reliable transit system that will serve the people of the Cape Fear region well,” David Rhew, executive director of the North Carolina Public Transportation Association, said in a release.”

Parker will begin her new position on June 5, according to a release from the Town of Carrboro.


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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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