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Commissioner looking for ways to pay for Wave


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Paying for Wave transit could hit your wallet a little harder, even if you do not ride the bus. New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield is looking for your help on how to fix yet another budget shortfall. Barfield says the importance of the Wave Transit system is sometimes underestimated.

In Barfield's eNewsletter sent out last week, he proposes two ideas on how to make ends meet for the transit system's financial shortfalls. One is a $7 vehicle registration fee. The other is a quarter-cent sales tax increase. Barfield says he does not support either revenue stream yet. He says his mission right now is to hear from the community on how they think the budget problem should be solved.

"I'll tell you that our ridership is extremely high," Barfield said. "We always get a lot of comments that people say they don't see people on the buses, but I think it depends on what time of the day you're looking at but also on the routes you're looking at, because our numbers are through the roof in terms of that."

Barfield says using the Wave buses is not only a great way to go green but also helps with the wear and tear of our roads. Today Barfield said another solution could be a fare hike, but many Wave riders we talked with today said they do not like that idea, because it would hit them hard.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


You want solutions?

Fix the route system so it's more intelligent than the "2 year old child drew a picture on the map and it became the current route system" garbage that we have now! If it were more intelligent, more people would want to ride. More... riders, more money. Wow! No expert advice required!

Looking at the Wavetransit map:
one can see that the relative "center" would be somewhere around Independance Mall and Wrightsville Ave. .

THAT is where the Central Transfer point should be. ... Not Downtown. Not Target. The redunancy of some of these routes, even in part, make no intelligent sense whatsoever.

The "we have a good ridership" attitude is rediculous. The ridership could have been far better long ago, before this "new" system had been put into place, had the route system been IMPROVED instead of fouled up all the more.

True that rumors are that Independance Mall/Westfield Mall doesn't really want Wave Transit out there at all. If anyone knows for certain otherwise, feel free to share. The inner loop WOULD be a great tool for busses leaving a central point. But if they don't want them there (which might explain why the bus stop points were moved from right at the Mall to the outer edge), fine. There are other locations that might easily work. Hanover Center is one example.

There are several functional designs used throughout the country for bus route systems. One is the "string" pattern. Following an outbound route, then, as much as possible, returning along the exact same line, with stops on the opposite side of the street. This, however, requires a great many routes to be developed for sufficient coverage. A "daisy" route system would have busses leaving from a central point, going out to a certain point, and looping back, returning to the central point, only to continue further in the "opposite" direction, creating another loop. In some cases, a second bus follows the figure eights in the opposite direction, or operating on the opposite end of the eight at the same time.

There are others, of course, depending on the location, the unity with other city bus routes, and how far out they travel.

Additionally, funds can't be hurt by an Express bus to and from Wilmington International Airport. Why one does not already exist, one can only speculate. Bus 207 already goes close, stopping at or near the Dept. of Corrections on Division Dr. Someone with not much baggage could get off there and walk a good 20-30 minutes and be at the airport. Of course, it only runs Monday - Friday. But why a bus hasn't been going to and from the airport already, one can only imagine. Adding Downtown as a stop on the Express route isn't beyond understanding either. Especially something that runs on the weekend as well.

Indeed, Express bus service to other major nearby cities offers potential. There are a few, but their hours of operation are shorter. Working outside the city is not so easy for those limited to riding the bus for long distance transportation. Even an Express running to Jacksonville and back shouldn't be ignored. Though, really, we need to fix the problems in town before we consider expanding outward.

This is a "major" city in NC. It is one of the main cities called on when referring to the East Coast. It should not have so low quality of a service as Wave Transit offers. We need better. MUCH better.

It isn't a higher tax or bus fare that is needed. It's a more intelligently run system.

Those currently using the system, contrary to the lies, deceit, bigotry, ignorance, and immorality of those making the false claims, are NOT only welfare, unemployed, or bums who don't want to work. They are individuals who DO work, work for low paying jobs that you higher than mighty, holier than thou bums are too lazy to do. They are individuals who have lost their jobs by being laid off and unable to find new jobs for a variety of reasons. They individuals who are disabled and unable to drive for a variety of reasons. They are individuals who find mass transit, ones run intelligently anyway, better than paying for gas, insurance, and repeated maintenance. And with a more intelligently run and designed system, many others could make use of the service. Many stopped because the route change that happened a few years ago presented a more inaccessible option. Others left when the fare rates went up during the high gas prices and did not go back down when the gas prices went down.

I realize that the higher than mighty, holier than thou crowd are too out of touch with reality to understand the issues because their greedy, hate filled ideals can't discern between fiction and reality, but intelligent individuals can see that there ARE better solutions that are available. Solutions that don't involve eliminating a much need service to a large segment of the population. If these individuals are so unimportant in your eyes, even when they do the low paying jobs that you are too lazy to do, then how about you not do business with those businesses? Instead of eating out, stop being a lazy bum and cook at home. In fact, instead of going to the grocery store where low paid employees provide you with the food you cook, how about YOU make everything from scratch. Grow the food. Make your own bread. You're better than them, right? No, I don't respect individuals like you. And I wouldn't want respect from individuals like you either.

That was a pretty good post, Andy....

...up until the anti-aristocrat hissy-fit in the last paragraph. Too bad we don't have a Guillotine handy, eh Robespierre?

Thanks anyway for pointing out that those folks doing all those essential jobs ARE getting paid, which proves conclusively that they CAN pay their own way through life without being coddled by the taxpayers funding a government that is rapidly running out of money from playing Santa Claus.

If YOU need it and IT needs money, YOU pay for it - not the people who don't need it. Raise the fares to make WAVE self sufficient.

Better system, same fares

A better, more intelligent system would draw in more riders, therefore more income, therefore no need to raise fares (a raise in CURRENT fares as opposed to a higher fare rate for the suggested Express bus to the airport and others).

The new building projects, especially with the excessive luxury portions of the budget, should never have been made. Of course, based on the aforementioned suggestion of where the central point should be, either an existing building or a new, but basic (decent, clean, etc, but not luxury filled) office where all passengers have access to (for certain business matters relating to customer service) wouldn't be out of the question.

As to my "anti-aristocrat" attitude, if you can't take it, don't dish it. You folks had your say about the quality of the ridership. I had my say about you folks. It's not like I threw a temper tantrum and ran to the mods. I can take it, how about you?

Can I take it?

Andy, I THRIVE on it!

BTW, I believe my comments on the "quality of ridership" centered on "Pay your own way through life." I would give that same advice to anyone, regardless of their income or occupation.


I've heard people who ride the Wave comment that it takes two plus hours to get home. For example: they board the Wave at Shipyard and their destination is 3rd and Nun. Over the past seven years since I've been living here I see very few people riding these buses. Perhaps these buses should be approx. the length of an extended van. Powered by other fuel sources, like battery with small engine back up. More smaller fuel efficient vehicles can be utilized cutting the wait time at each stop and in transit. Do A cost comparison and new routing plan and see something like this is worth doing at a cost savings to us all.

Time to send him packing

Vote Barfield out ! The burden on local taxpayer's is high enough already. The people that utilize this mode of transportation will have to dig a little deeper in their pockets. There is enough waste in our local government already and many commissioners have been asleep at the wheel for far too long ( i.e ABC scandal ). Eighty six percent of their budget is mandated by the state but the fourteen percent they oversee could be better managed. Given what the national barometer is registering on higher taxes and fees on citizens , elected officials need to be more responsible stewards of public funds or they will find themselves unseated .

Live Within Your Means

Once again, a politician wants to pick someone else's pocket for his pet project. Stop It. Do you see what happens when they get "just another quarter cent" sales tax increase? The last increase has not even gone into effect before the idea of "just a little more" is floated again. Stop It!

Raise the fares to support the system. If it can't support itself, shut it down. Don't pick the pockets of New Hanover County taxpayers, again. Stop It!

Stop subsidizing Brunswick County. Why should New Hanover County consider a new vehicle tax ("just a little fee") or any other increase in taxes to support a route to Brunswick County? Does WAVE get any payment from Brunswick County for the route it runs there now? It's just like the massive bond (raising the future tax burden) for New Hanover County residents to pay for Cape Fear Community College's very expensive expansion. Do the counties or other states that send students to CFCC subsidize that cost? No. It rests squarely on the backs of New Hanover County taxpayers. Stop it!

Be responsible. Stop asking someone else to carry your load. Just one more feather may break the camel's back.

Let the riders pay the fee instead of subsidizing again!

I get sick and tired of government reaching into my pocket to pay for other peoples services. The fair way to to cover the revenues is to have the people who use it pay for it. If WAVE riders don't want the expenses of automobile ownership, they need to pay for the bus rides. I already pay for my vehicle licences, my vehicle taxes, my vehicle insurance, vehilce maintenance, vehicle fuel, etc. These fees are already off the scale and add up to a substantial amount of money in the end. Now they want ME and the other responsible taxpayers of the county to foot the bill and provide transportation for the rest.

If the WAVE riders, "...don't like that idea because it would hit them hard." That's just too damned bad! Get off your duff and at least earn your bus fare!

Everybody want's something for nothing! The very reason Obama got elected to screw this country up.

This is not a fair comment,

This is not a fair comment, because believe it or not most of the people that ride are tax paying passengers. Now I understand that its being taken from you hard earned money. But we all pay taxes and the government decides what to do with that money at the end of the day. Also if you pay taxes u also claim so im sure that you do get more then what you paid for at the end of the day. Unless you don't pay as much as you are suppose to and end up paying some more. Im also a tax payer as well as many people that I know. I have a vehicle just like you do. But there will be that one day where you car might not start and you need to find you way to work. It will be the day that you might have to take public transportation to work and paying that 1.50 will seem cheaper then all that we already do for are own vehicles. Yea sometimes it easy to act like have it all and everything else may not be needed. But at the end of the day things do happen and it might be you on that bus.

Oil is not going to be around forever.

This comment posted ahead,is coming from someone, who already has everything. It's not Wave or the riders faught, that you've bitten off more debt you can chew. Not everyone that rides the bus is on government assistance.Many of us have a job, some of us have more than two. I have a vehicle, I pay taxes, and I like to ride the bus from time to time. It helps save fuel, the environment, and wear on my personal vehicle. All citizens upper class,and fixed income, pays some form of Tax. Whether, its sale taxes, income, or property taxes. The disadvantage comes when the struggle everyday people have to pay even more in this shakey economy. If the bus fare is raise by $2.00. It will take $4.00 each day for a full commute. It will take $28.00 per week commute. For someone that on a fixed income, or part-time mininum wages thats 20% of their income. Haven't Wave riders sufferd enough. Let's face it. Oil is not going to be around foever. And, People with luxury would have to ditch their cars, for cheaper transportation. Then you'll be on the bus with the rest of us hard working people.

You miss two key points

First, driving a near-empty bus around town does not save fuel in any way, shape, or form. It wastes fuel because the passenger mile per gallon falls below that of a Hummer.

Second, the fact that you may have to use 20% of your income on transportation to and from work is YOUR problem. It's not the taxpayers' responsibility to shield you from the cold, hard realities of your economic life!

Where did we ever get the idea that society is here to shield poor people from the realities of poverty? We should subsidize fares for people who spend their money on cellular phone bills, cable with high-speed Internet, and a new HDTV? You offer a prime example - the government should raise my tax rates to keep the fare low for you....while you own a car?

Sell your car and pay your own way through life!


1st of all 95% of the people that ride the bus have jobs; some of which work at many places throughout Wilmington from the hospitals, nursing homes, police dept. etc. There are of course a few people that just decided to stop driving to live longer in case you have notice the accident rate in Wilmington or noticed how there are many foolish drivers. So some people shouldn't assume stuff but instead research it. That's what is wrong with the country today. This comment was researched before I made it also but the country was messed up along with the economy before Obama came along. From what the Republican's did before.


Just out of curiosity do you have children? Did they go through the public education system? Do you drive on public roads? Everyone uses services provided by the government that other people don't necessarily use. It's how the system works.

It's also how the system eventually collapses

We saw it in the Soviet Union. We are seeing it more every day in Europe. You cannot keep heaping increased taxation upon the successful, productive members of society for the sake of shielding the lower class from the life they SHOULD be facing based upon economic reality.

There is no reason why the 95% of county residents who don't ride WAVE should have to face increased taxes to subsidize the 5% of county residents who do ride. (That's on occasion. Daily ridership is less.)

Every government endeavor beyond essential services should be self-funded and self-sufficient. I don't care if you're talking about national parks, libraries, education or WAVE, far too many people DON'T use the facilities and therefore it should be supported by user fees and fares. We don't need our own little red-ink geyser, an Amtrack of our own, called WAVE. If it can't be self-sufficient we don't need it at all.

At a time when our nation faces the highest raw debt it has ever faced, forty-eight percent of this country pays no income tax. So what is Obama's solution to this problem? Raise taxes on the wealthy. Of course the top ten percent of earners pay over seventy percent of the individual income taxes already, but why would that bother a Marxist?

Barfield and Padgett are cut from the same olive-drab, Mao-green bolt of cloth as Obama. Steal from the rich to give to the poor.

Guess what? It's STILL stealing....and it's eventually going to bankrupt this nation.

Wilmington MAJ....Just what

Wilmington MAJ....Just what has this comment got to do with the issue at hand? Makes no sense.

You get one, simple, concise answer!

I paid over $25,000.00 in taxes last year, not including the hidden ones that most people forget about! I paid 40 dollars to have my car inspected last week, another $26.00 to get the registration renewed. I paid $1000.00 for insurance of which part is for uninsured motorists (illegal hispanics), 2000.00 for fuel and road tax, 1000.00 for tires that included the excise tax and tire disposal tax. I can go even further to explain the taxes I pay to own a home and take care of it.

Bottom line is that I well over pay my way in taxes to use the beat up roads in this county and I continue to pay taxes for other peoples children to go to public school!

No! How the system IS working is the "don't give a damn, lazy bums" that refuse to get off their fat duffs and work are still waiting with their hands out for more and more government entitlements and subsidies! THAT is how the system works and I tend to believe you are in that category! Myself and the rest of the law abiding tax payers are fed up with it and the lazy, non-contributing, whiner leeches that just grasp for more!

Here we go again

Before anyone jumps up and down concerning my post, let me note, I don't use WAVE; it really does not provide services I need.

However, when in Northern Virginia, visiting my daughter, we always use the Metro for other than a quick run to the market.

When in Md or taking in an Orioles or Ravens game, we always use the Light Rail.

But those are self supporting for the most part. They do not continually reach out and tap the local citiznes for subsidies to cover budget shortfalls.

They also continuously review useage patterns and adjust schedules to reduce useage during periods when passenger useage does not support those routes.

And they are not inexpensive to ride on.

So here comes a Commissioner. Does he propose a similar review to determine if cost efficiencies might be found through schedule adjustments? NO; sure did not see that when he was interviewed.

No, his solution is a sales tax increase OR an additional license fee to register your vehicle.

Does he support fare increases to levels where WAVE can become more self supporting? Apparently not; I really did not see him expound on that as a solution.

BUT, the users of WAVE are vehemently opposed to fare increases. The ones who use the system apparently don't feel it would be fair to support the system through even a modest fare increase.

Seems to be just another form of wealth redistribution. Subsidized housing; subsidized food; subsidized health care; free cell phones; subsidies for who knows what else. And now subsidized transportation.

Government officials need to wake up and realize the declining number of taxpayers and working persons are going to rebel and clean out these legislators and commissioners who always want to take the easy way out and tax, in one form or another, the workers to allow the service users to have a free or nearly free ride.

Where does it end?


There are lot of loop holes on roads where there are needed to be bus routes added or needed to be put back on where people need the most to be routes buses should be useful on. For example between martin luther king and market street intersection all the way heading to odgen there is no bus route to go that way and lot of people i know work that way which is from the toyota dealership, the hotel where they do charge fees for people to stay weekly if they wish all the way to odgen, porters neck needs to have a bus added since it only goes one way which it comes from odgen towards market and pass the intersection of mlk market towards down town so wheres the busses go from intersection of toyota dealership towards odgen since the buses turn left towards downtown instead of turning right passing curved around toyota then go on up to parkway volvo then towards to odgen porters neck is without routes so what kind of a mind do city officals and wave transit have without having a bus route there??? Its really hurting those who cant go to work that way including myself i had to get off at cardinal drive and cut through walking to parkway volvo for 5 months and cant even get pass toyota dealer ship then take a right at the intersection light and go towards odgen to get by parkway volvo on the way like ur goin towards odgen!!!! This is maybe another reason ur revenues u try to earn 1 50 without having that route really hurts wave and they dont need to add or increase fare, they need to just add more routes to make more routes to be two way routes instead of one way routes on many of the same highways so people can be able to go and come from on either routes and this will help financially grow revenues, money for waves to be able to budget better so there are lot of more highways or roads that are missing as well i have to change 2 buses to get to from independence mall to go all the way around towards past pine valley goin through downtown then take carolina beach to monkey junction to get to first citizens banks and there are no buses go towards the intersection of where smithfeild s chicken and the new needham animal hospital then to college road so what happen there??? U need a bus to go to the intersection actually 2 buses to go from there towards long leaf mall to make connection to another buses and another one to turn right towards lowes since theres no buses at all go on so college road on either sides from long leaf mall to lowes by monkey junction so this is a big loophole and lot of loss of revenue u all lost since so many people need to go to lowes long leaf mall all along that way on both sides of so college road instead of just goin to monkey junction then come through lowes then to nice neighboring homes then turn left back towards shypyard blvd since it wld be better goin towards the intersection of so college with 2 different buses goin left and one goin right to cover that route!!!!! Use ur heads!!!! NO need to raise fare also ive seen as well so many people get on for 1 50 then they get off another 2 to 3 blocks down which is less than 2,000 feet and get right back off like for example get on at lowes foods on oleander and then they get right off at intersection of 41st and oleander short ways and still be charged for 150 and its really bad when u all do this to people who just want to go short ways and still be charged for a full fare full round trip goin just few blocks is rediculous!!!! Ur taking advantage of people by doing this as well so there s no need to raise a fare but just need to add on more buses and more routes to cover more city routes and adding to you city people are not thinking as well ur thinking of adding more land into the city limits need alot of thinking for more routes and more buses and shouldve thought of your budget as well!!!!! Its not little wilmington no more also gettin to be more like nyc in small are square feet here!!!!! Ps ps think about porters neck since that place is growing and get more buses there as well u got lowes building up there and already have harris teeter as well u may need more goin to hampstead since its growing as well also what about lowes towards jacksonville???? not even in city limits but why have lowes located there so it sounds to me ur planning a 20 year plan from now to take over that place in the city and its in pender county not new hanover so how are people goin to get there to work if they dont have transportation??? Lot of mess to think city people managers etc..... im without college degree or education versus you with it get ur mind working!!!!!!

Sell the buses and purchase

Sell the buses and purchase mini vans...

buy them cars

Mr. Barfield is another clueless tax and spend politician. The only solution for any problem is to raise taxes. If the ridership is as high as he claims, then why is the system broke and need money? I think the system is broke because few people ride it. It would be cheaper to buy these riders cars.

A crazy thought

How about let the people that use the bus pay for the bus! Since I have multiple vehicles and have never once in the 20 years I've lived in Wilmington I have never put one foot on a bus. So please explain why it is my responsibility to pay for it? Since the "numbers are through the roof" then that will pay for it and leave me out of it.


I have a teenager that is taking afternoon classes each day at Cape Fear. I love that the Wave Transit system offers transportation there. I would happily pay double even triple to continue these services. It is much cheaper then purchasing another car, paying for taxi's, or leaving work myself to transport him. As a tax payer, I dont think the burden should fall on the tax payers, I believe those of us who use the service should pay an increase in fares if need be. This cost approximately 75 cents per day (student rate) vs over 20.00 dollars for a taxi. It is still a significant savings compared to the other options I could use to provide transportation.

Commissioner looking for ways to pay for wave?

Well Nr.Commissioner they do ride your busses and a quarter cent increase in bus fare can't hurt that bad. Your wanting tax payers or people with vehicals to pay for something once again! Don't you think that some of us that pay taxes and have vehicals have a tough time making it too? Why not donate some of your salarie if your so concerned about your budgetting short fall! Not only that but start charging a quarter or fifty cents to ride the FREE trolleys!

Another increase in

Another increase in "fees".... lets be plain, Commissioner Barfield wants to reach into my pocket to subsidize Wave riders. I pay registration, vehicle taxes, insurance as well as gas and maintenance on my vehicles. If anyone has noticed, the price for maintaining business and personal vehicles HAS been climbing quite regularly.

Commissioner... try something novel. RAISE THE FARES for those who choose to use the "public" transit system. If you want to find more $$, why don't you look into cutting the free cell phones given to welfare recipients.

Here's the original blog

Here's the original blog that brought the story to WWAY:

WAVE transit

Of course they don't like the idea of increasing the fare - why not let someone else pay for it!! why should others who drive and pay for insurance have to pay for those who ride the bus. They already save by not having to pay insurance. Here we go again, those who are working hard to get ahead have to support others that may not make as much or don't work at all. I would gladly help someone I knew pay for their travel if needed, but I want to be sure I am not paying for someone who can work but chooses not to,( I should have that option) -- or decides to spend their money on electronic games and sophisticated phones -- instead of paying their way for travel and living expenses. I am astonished by the number of people with food stamps that have a super-sophisticated phone and are texting a mile a minute - I'm lucky I can afford one with a camera !! I guess it's all about priorities.

Wave transit budget

I appreciate that New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield is looking for suggestions to pay for the Wave transit budget, however, his suggestions of a $7 vehicle registration fee or a quarter-cent sales tax increase are not viable solutions. These are difficult times for everyone, and it is time for the county to make the hard decisions. The county needs to start reducing services when they can’t afford them! Obviously the transit service benefits only the people who use this service, and asking the general public to foot the bill is unacceptable. They need to focus on the transit costs and reduce them to a level that fits the budget. This can be achieved by eliminating un-profitable routes, idling buses/gas costs, reducing resources, increasing the fares to the riders, and selecting only routes that benefit the majority of users. I realize these are solutions that are difficult and unpopular, but people need a reality check – there is a limit to every budget!

narrow minded

Your statement "Obviously the transit service benefits only the people who use this service" is false. Taking people where they spend money supports the community as a whole. Mass transit works across the globe. It is not working here.

Mass transit is a money drain across the globe

One need only study the New York MTA to see just how crazy it can get when people start to believe that they have a "right" to cheap, taxpayer-funded transportation. They're now arguing that people who live half-way to Albany have an obligation to pay taxes for the MTA operations and maintenance.

Make people pay for what they receive! If you want to ride the big bus, you PAY to ride the big bus. Don't expect your neighbor to pay your share, deadbeat!

For so few words

you sow much confusion. Mass transit works across the globe; but not here.

So your point is what?

The overwhelming majority who have posted, including yours truly, are adamantly opposed to any solution which does not include a fare increase.

NO special license plate fee. No extra quarter point on the sales tax.

The working taxpayers say absolutely NO.

I'm still not certain what your point was.