09/21/04 — Gateway manager considers transit service improvements

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Gateway manager considers transit service improvements

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on September 21, 2004 2:01 PM

More changes are coming to the county transportation system, which should be welcome news to riders.

Some city bus routes may soon run on a half-hour schedule, and rates for rural riders may drop in the next year. Bus shelters are also finally being ordered, but it will take several months before they are delivered.

The Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority held its monthly meeting Monday and heard that update from Paul Larson, representative of the Apple Bus system. Apple Bus Co., which also runs transit systems in Nash and Edgecombe counties, assumed management of the public bus and van service in July.

After analyzing numbers for the past year, Larson said ridership on the buses was up 11 percent. The vans, which provide transportation for county residents, have had a 21 percent increase.

"There's a lot more potential for both the urban and rural side," Larson added.

He said his company was looking at ways to reduce the ride time on the Berkeley Boulevard and Slocumb Street routes, because those account for 70 percent of the bus business.

"Slocumb collects and Berkeley delivers," he said. "But the riders have to sit for 15 minutes in the transfer station to wait for the next bus."

Larson believes that 30-minute routes are the answer and is planning to look at altering the route structure to provide better service.

"We want to reduce the ride and improve service," he said.

Larson also said the bus system would eventually like to expand its hours.

"We take people to work," he said. "We'd like to try to help get people home from work."

Now the system runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Though the county ridership on the vans has increased over the past year, Larson thinks that his company will be able to attract even more riders. "With more volume, we should be able to reduce the rate to agencies," he said.

The Gateway board also directed Arlette Newton to begin the process of buying the long-awaited bus shelters. It will take several months before the shelters can be delivered.

Larson will bring a recommendation of where the shelters should be placed.

"Looking at the stops will be the next level of detail we'll be looking at," Larson said.

Gateway also agreed to a 90-day contract with David Eatman, Tar River Transit manager, to get administrative services on track for the authority.

Eatman will establish budgets, prepare grant applications, help in filing reimbursement requests, submit program reports, assist in purchasing buses and shelters, identify mandatory state and federal reports and documents, and establish a schedule for their completion.

The authority will pay him $31.25 per hour, plus mileage costs between Rocky Mount and Goldsboro. When the 90-day expires, the authority will decide if it needs to hire a full-time administrator or if staff can carry out the programs implemented by Eatman.