02/17/04 — Gateway orders bus shelters

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Gateway orders bus shelters

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on February 17, 2004 2:02 PM

The Goldsboro-Wayne Transpor-tation Authority decided Monday to postpone decisions about route changes until it hires a private company to run the transportation system, and gave its approval to order bus shelters.

Gateway began considering hiring a private contractor to run the system about five months ago. After studying some other successful systems, the authority asked several companies to submit a request for running the system.

City Manager Richard Slozak and County Manager Lee Smith have narrowed the field to two candidates, but are working on ironing out all regulatory issues before recommending one to the board.

Smith said he and Slozak had answered questions from the state, but were waiting to speak again with the Federal Transit Authority.

Smith said the process had taken a little longer than hoped for, but he believed the wait would be worth it.

Arlette Newton, interim director for Gateway, said that Carol Bender, a member of the Wayne Interagency Transportation Advisory Board, had expressed concern about hiring a private contractor.

"She said they had worked with a private contractor in the past, and the operation wasn't successful," Ms. Newton said.

Commissioner Andy Anderson said he understood Ms. Bender's concerns, because he had been a member of the Wayne Interagency Transportation board for many years, but that things had changed. That board had been in charge of providing van service for county agencies, such as the Mental Health and Social Services departments.

"One factor," he said, "is that we were operating on a shoestring."

Smith said he thought that Gateway had reached a new level of professionalism by combining the urban and rural systems.

Gateway Chairman Ken Gerrard said that everything the authority was now doing was to improve the system.

Ms. Newton said that there had been several requests to provide service to the New Hope and Central Heights area.

The bus system had about 72,000 riders two years ago, Slozak said, but ridership had increased by almost 20,000.

"It's a good problem to have," he said. "People want to ride the bus."

Gerrard said that a number of routes probably needed adjusting, but thought it would be better to wait until a contractor was hired, and the other board members agreed.

Slozak asked about the status of the bus shelters, and Ms. Newton said they could move forward on getting them.

"We talked about locations," Smith said, "doesn't that relate to the routes?"

Slozak said he didn't think any changes in routes would affect where shelters should be located.

"I think we need to press on," he said.

Gateway will now put some specifications together and send out a request for a proposal on the bus shelters.