WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY — Years ago the main way to get from Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach was by trolley. If Wave Transit gets its way, the Beach Car may again roll to the ocean, but it would come at a price.
This afternoon the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority discussed adding an extra fee for vehicle registration. That money would help pay for public transit to the beach.
Right now, if you want public transportation to Wrightsville Beach, a bus stop nearly two miles from the sand is as close as you’re going to get.
“It stops on this side of the Intracoastal Waterway, so you have to walk the rest of the way, which is good exercise, but it would be a little bit more convenient for a route to go all the way to the beach,” said Wave passenger Michael Stancil.
The closest stop to Pleasure Island is all the way up in Monkey Junction, and the cab ride from there to Carolina Beach does not run cheap.
“It was about $20 from the Advance Auto on Carolina Beach Road by Walmart all the way to a restaurant by Wintergreen, down there by the deep sea fishing area,” said Wave rider Ricky Meeks.
Well, it may not be too long before Wave Transit makes that trip a little easier.
Wave Transit Executive Director Albert Eby said the state Department of Transportation would collect and allocate an extra vehicle registration fee to Wave to fund three separate routes to the area’s beaches.
“The plan will be that starting next year, during the tourist season, we can provide trolley service both to Wrightsville Beach, as well as a connection from Monkey Junction to Carolina Beach and then a trolley service on Pleasure Island,” Eby said.
Eby predicts about ten to 15 stops on the routes. He also said Wave is thinking about adding an extra cost for the routes.
If approved by New Hanover County Commissioners and Wilmington City Council, Eby said an extra seven dollars would be added to all New Hanover County residents’ vehicle registration regardless if they plan to use the beach buses or not.
But how will that effect those who live at the beach?
“It seems like a wonderful idea in that perhaps (it) would cut down on the number of cars coming to the beach. That is the genius part of it,” Wrightsville Beach resident Gail Spruill said.
As far as allowing Wave passengers to bring beach gear with them on the routes, Eby says he’s not sure yet how that would work.