WILMINGTON — Wilmington’s public transportation system has gone through numerous highs and lows over the last few years. But the positive changes it has made in the last two were recognized at a statewide conference earlier this week.
Wave Transit was named “Transit System of the Year” by the 2022 North Carolina Public Transportation Association (NCPTA). According to a press release from NCPTA, the award is given to only “one urban transit system annually for its creation, expansion, or innovation of transportation services.”
The conference was held in Charlotte, with Wave’s executive director Marie Parker in attendance to accept the award.
“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. “I’m excited to watch this community come together to make it happen.”
Wave has initiated new and improved existing services over the last year, increasing on-time departure performance from 68% to 85%, according to the release. It also invested in capital and technological improvements.
One of its newer services includes RideMICRO, a regional microtransit pilot that services areas traditionally underserved or unserved. It allows riders to book flexible, on-demand public transportation to rural areas, towns, and coastal communities in Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties.
Wave also invested in staff — essential, frontline workers during the pandemic — to continue service without interruption for the last two years. The release explained that Wave created multiple initiatives, and began regular departmental and company-wide meetings, de-escalation trainings, policy and employee manual updates, and wellness-focused events.
Located in a community of increased film activity, Wave also made its appearance on the big screen, as its transit stations served as the backdrop for Amazon’s “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and Netflix’s “Florida Man.” Both production companies donated $4,500 to go toward transportation fare subsidies to those in need.
Wave also worked with local and state agencies for 10 months to provide free rides to people seeking a Covid vaccine. It transported more than 300 people during this time.
In keeping with its dedication to support public health, on May 1 Wave will begin another program, led by Community Care of the Lower Cape Fear, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. It will be the transportation service provider for Healthy Opportunities Pilot — “the nation’s first comprehensive program to test evidence-based, nonmedical interventions designed to reduce costs and improve the health of qualifying recipients.”
“It has been a tremendous year for Wave Transit with more exciting changes to come,” Parker stated in a release.
Catch up on more Wave reporting from Port City Daily:
Wave Transit no longer to cut routes
Rerouting: Wave Transit seeks input on upcoming changes
City, county ask Wave what it could become with $65M boost from sales tax, identifies $55M in trails
Netflix, Amazon projects donate to Wave Transit’s foundation after filming at bus stations
Wave Transit’s free downtown trolley expands route, with 25 total stops
Wave Transit could rebuild with reduced routes and ridership, new tax for city and county residents
WAVE route rehaul decision splits county, city officials
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