‘It’s a slap in the face to take away our only transportation source’: WAVE Transit riders react to proposed changes

‘It’s a slap in the face to take away our only transportation source’: WAVE Transit riders react to proposed changes

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - WAVE Transit directors held a public hearing Thursday following serious financial troubles that have caused directors to consider cutting back services..

All routes and services have and will continue without interruption until further notice, but WAVE directors are considering the following changes:

  • Modify current weekday service (Monday - Friday) to end at 8:00 p.m.
  • Modify current Saturday service to begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 6:00 p.m.

One of the main focuses of Thursday’s meeting was the New Hanover County commissioners move to withdraw support from the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority and what that means for future funding.

In a packed room, WAVE patrons passionately spoke out against these changes.

“They’re not doing anything to help people with disabilities except take, take, take,” said Stephen Bried, who has been paralyzed for the past 30 years.

Bried relies on WAVE for most of his transportation needs and says any restrictions in service will make it even harder for him to leave the nursing home where he is forced to live.

“I just feel it’s wrong. You’ve got elderly who deserve to get out of nursing homes. They don’t deserve to be housed like prisoners,” he said.

WAVE Executive Director Albert Eby addressed the dozens who showed up to the small board room before the hearing started, making it clear that all board members and WAVE leaders were against any restrictions to the transit system.

Eby also directly responded to a statement made Monday by New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White.

White said he hoped WAVE Transit could figure out a way to re-invent itself, after voting to deny a budget subsidy to WAVE.

“We don’t need to re-invent ourself,” Eby said during the meeting. “We’re like the light-bulb.”

Eby emphasized a need for more stable funding as opposed to major changes within the transit system.

Noelle Powers, a UNCW grad student and co-founder of the 350 Wilmington Organization, went to Thursday’s meeting to represent many who could not be there due to the inconvenient time.

Powers and her co-founder spent the past few weeks talking with WAVE riders about the proposed changes. She estimates they talked to about 30 people.

“We found that it would kind of cause chaos,” Powers said. They recorded these conversations and presented them to the board on Thursday.

“People are generally going to work pretty early in the morning, coming home pretty late and there was kind of an overwhelming consensus of ‘please don’t do anything drastic.’ It’s hard enough as it is waiting for the hourly buses let alone they wouldn’t be coming.”

She said almost all WAVE riders expressed an interest in more buses and longer hours instead of restrictions.

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