Wave considers car fee to finance beach buses


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County’s public transportation could be getting closer to making waves at the beach. The Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority is considering charging residents more to have a car to help finance new bus routes to the beach towns.

“We were up like 9,000 passengers in June alone over June a year ago,” CFPTA board members Hank Adams said.

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With that growth, Wave Transit is considering many new routes. One old idea that is under consideration again is buses to the beach.

“We did a survey a couple years ago with UNCW. It was a scientific survey. Eighty-seven percent of folks wanted to see service to the beaches,” Wave executive director Albert Eby said. “So we’re going out, we’re meeting with the beach communities, we’re meeting with interested parties to see what the interest is or the community’s support for increased public transportation here in New Hanover County.”

If there is enough public support Wave could ask the county commission to implement an additional seven-dollar fee to each vehicle registered in New Hanover County. The fee would finance new routes for the Wave. In particular it could take passengers down to Carolina, Kure and even Wrightsville Beach.

“This would offer us the opportunity not only to provide the capital for the initiative, but it would also allow us to provide the long-term operating cost for the initiative,” Eby said.

But that support may be hard to find.

“It would be nice for the buses to come here, but I think it should be a fee to the person riding the bus rather than to the overall taxpayers, because not everyone will be using them,” Carole Robinette said during a visit to Wrightsville Beach.

Fellow beach visitor John Beaumont agreed.

“Going to the beach is kind of a commodity,” he said. “It’s something fun to do, but it’s not like a necessity. I don’t think everyone should have to pay for the few.”

The additional fee to car owners is only a possibility, and Eby says even if the plan moves forward, buses likely would not roll to the beach until 2013.

Public transportation to the beaches is not a new idea. A trolley known as the Beach Car ran to Wrightsville Beach for years, and later there were buses. A few years ago Wrightsville Beach leaders nixed the idea of bringing a bus back saying there was not enough room for a bus stop.