WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority has been awarded nearly $7 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
“Funding from the CARES Act will allow Wave Transit access to valuable financial resources as the Authority responds to the novel coronavirus pandemic,” Authority Executive Director Albert Eby wrote in a news release.
Wave Transit has continued transit service throughout the pandemic to ensure access to essential businesses and medical facilities remain available to the community.
“CARES Act funding will help offset increased costs to ensure that Wave buses and vans are sanitized and cleaned in accordance with CDC recommendations” Eby wrote. “Lost revenue from providing fare free service to promote social distancing and reductions in revenue contracts will be reduced by the CARES Act.”
The financial future of the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority was cloudy just a few months ago.
Now, thanks to the CARES Act, Wave is getting more than $6.8 million in coronavirus relief funding.
“So this will help us not only deal with when the pandemic started, which goes back to Jauary 20th of this year, and help us in response to many months in the past, but it’ll also help us going towards the future,” Eby says.
Eby also says this funding will help make up for some of the lost revenue right now due to revised safety procedures.
“We have put notices on specific seats to encourage social distancing,” he says. “So by doing that and allowing to board at the rear door, we almost had to go fare-free.”
The federal funding will allow Wave Transit to finish its current fiscal year without additional local taxpayer subsidies. It will also offset expenses incurred by the authority in future fiscal years as the region recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eby says not only will the money help Wave get through the pandemic, it could also give them some much needed stability.
“This is really going to help stabilize us, not only for this current year, but for the upcoming year, and possibly even years in the future,” he says.
The $6,856,517 funding will be provided at a 100 percent federal share, with no local match required, and will be available to support capital, operating, and other expenses generally eligible under those programs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.