NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Dozens of people piled into WAVE Transit's board meeting to speak up about recent changes to routes around New Hanover County.
New routes took affect February 3, and the biggest change according to Thursday's display is the dropped routes inside the Creekwood community.
Kyrean White, one of several Creekwood residents to share her concern, said the bus stop at the corner of 30th and Princess Place Drive is too far away.
"Imagine sloshing, sliding and going through water going about a half a mile up the block," she said.
The single mother said it's hard enough to manage her family and find a job, but the added walk back and forth from the bus stop is too much.
"We have to do this to let them know that they're affecting us," said White.
Her voice was not alone, as speakers shared their thoughts. Michael Krause, CEO of Wilmington Housing Authority, spoke to the WAVE board on behalf of the public housing in Creekwood.
Johnie Lewis told the board that he's been fighting this since it was first proposed. WAVE announced two public hearings for route changes before the plans were adopted in June 2012. Lewis said the elderly and the families in this part of town deserve a more convenient service.
"That's a long walk," said Lewis.
Board member, and New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield expressed his concern with his fellow board members and WAVE staff. He said he did not appreciate the decision to drop service to Creekwood without his prior knowledge.
The change was ‘stealing from the poor to give to the rich,' according to Barfield.
To that, Secretary Don Betz told this was not an issue, nor a time, to be political. Betz said Barfield, like the rest of the board members, had the information and opportunities to speak up for months before the new routes were adopted.
Barfield, who was out of town for the final vote last June, told WECT.com that there are no mentions of dropping Creekwood service in any recent meetings or agendas.
Research from a consultant found that the inner loop of the Creekwood community results in about 15 riders per day. The daily average for Route 101 is roughly 3,600 riders.
Overall, board members told the crowd that they'll research the routes, but they make no promise of any changes. Until that happens, Lewis said he's not going anywhere.
"If not, I'm going to continue on my quest to make sure – on my last breath – to keep bugging them until they get this route right like it's supposed to be," he said.
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