NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - It could be the end of the road for several bus routes in New Hanover County, but several riders aren't ready to let that happen.
WAVE staff held a public hearing Wednesday to listen to comments about the proposed plan to drop Routes 107, 207 and 301. Executive Director Albert Eby told the crowd that the reason for the reduced service comes from the county's contribution to the public transit authority.
What was approved for 2013-2014 is more than $100,000 less the requested amount, according to Eby.
Student, veterans and job-seekers stood together at Wednesday's public hearing to tell WAVE leaders what the routes mean to them. Most of the comments involved 207, which covers the northern part of the county, including Cape Fear Community College's north campus
"I have no means of buying a car, I'm staying with a friend and I plan on going to north campus next year," said one student. "What am I going to do?"
"I'm doing everything I've always dreamed of doing, and now I'm told my dream is going to be snatched out from under me because I'm not going to be able to get to school," said another.
Laney High School also sits on the 207 route. Educators with the Specially Designed Academics program said they rely on the bus service to shuttle their students from the school to the businesses where they train for future employment.
"It's like a sword through the heart," said Mike MacBean, an organizer of the program. "Because we've put countless hours in."
MacBean said the community based program is meant to connect special needs students with prospective employers after high school. Without the bus route, the students have no way to stay involved.
"We just need you guys and the county to come together and somehow put the 207 back out there, so we have confidence that we can get on that bus every single day," he said.
Frank Roberts, with the New Hanover County Veterans Council, let WAVE leaders know that the men and women who served this country need the bus too.
"They're already relying heavily on your bus, route 207, to get to the VA clinic," he said.
Eby told Wednesday's crowd to share their concerns with the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, as well. A second public hearing is set for noon Thursday at WAVE's Forden Station on Cando Street.
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