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Transportation center back on track

READ MORE: Transportation center back on track

Imagine all the city's buses, trolleys, and taxis in downtown Wilmington meeting in one place. Well, that's the plan - a very expensive plan. After about a decade in the making, those plans are closer to reality.
The multi-modal transportation center is back on track.

"If they know they have to stand out in the rain to wait for a bus, obviously you're not making the services as attractive as they could be," says WAVE Transit Executive Director Albert Eby.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has a much more appealing plan which includes a covered multi-modal transportation center complete with bathrooms and a ticket office.

You would see a lot of buses coming in. You would see some Greyhounds there, a half a dozen times a day. You'd see taxis waiting to take people from one place to another. You'd see passengers with suitcases, maybe waiting to go out to the airport on a public bus or on a taxi," says Eby.

Plans put the transportation center between North 3rd and 4th Streets between Red Cross and Hanover Streets. The historic buildings taken over by the D.O.T. will likely be preserved. Eventually the hub could also serve as a train station to take people to and from Raleigh.

"It really is kind of a converging of all the different transportation alternatives here in the region so it makes much more seamless transition for not only residents but for visitors and tourists," says Eby.

But the $11 million project, mainly funded by state and federal money, has local folks worried.

"Those are taxpayer funds. Those are our dollars," says Chad O'Shields. "So you're talking, minimum, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to pay salaries, maintenance on these buildings, and it's just ridiculous to put that kind of additional burden on working families."

O'Shields says the plan aimed at making transportation easier is pointless and a waste of taxpayer's money. "The whole premise behind bringing these forms of transportation together sounds good until you think about it. All these different forms of transportation already have their own locations. We have bus stops. If we want to get on a bus, we go to a bus stop. It takes us from Point A to Point B. With a taxi, it'll pick you up from where you are and take you to where you want to go. To try and sell the public on the premise that we need to re-route all these vehicles to one point downtown, it just doesn't make sense."

O'Shields says the people who want to build the multi-modal center are the same ones who supported the brand new WAVE Transit building nicknamed the "Taj Mah-WAVE". They're also the ones who allotted $40,000 for a statue to put in front of a bus station.

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