WAVE board passes budget, still plans to resume collecting fares on July 6

WAVE board passes budget, still plans to resume collecting fares on July 6
WAVE leaders have passed a budget.

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - For WAVE Transit, the coronavirus pandemic not only caused disruption in operations and changes in ridership, but it threw a wrench into an already complicated financial reality.

On Thursday, the Cape Fear Public Transit Authority (CFPTA), which is the governing board of WAVE, voted to approve a budget for fiscal year 2020-2021.

That $9.02 million budget approved Thursday is almost 6% more than the previous year’s budget, and is 1.98% higher than what was originally presented on May 28.

The difference, explained Executive Director Albert Eby, is due to the state of North Carolina pulling funding for certain operating and maintenance assistance, as well as an increase of WAVE’s minimum wage to $15.

It also takes into account the infusion of nearly $7 million from the federal government thanks to the CARES Act.

WAVE is having to adjust to more than four months without fare revenue, after the transit system stopped taking fares from bus riders as a means of limiting contact and thereby the spread of COVID-19.

Despite increasing cases in the Cape Fear region and across the state, WAVE still plans to resume collecting fares and re-open its facilities to transactions starting July 6.

So far, WAVE estimates its ridership is down about 50%, and that’s not counting the loss of the Seahawk Shuttle operation at UNCW.

Commissioner Woody White, who is a member of a board, said he hoped more detail could be provided as to exactly how the pandemic has affected ridership, and how greater macroeconomic trends have contributed as well.

Eby and his staff said the best way to know exactly how riders are using the service is to do a survey.

The board also held a closed session to evaluate Eby.

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