03/18/05 — Gateway head could soon be aboard

View Archive

Gateway head could soon be aboard

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 18, 2005 1:52 PM

After three years, the Goldsboro Wayne Transportation Authority should finally have a new executive director soon.

Gateway's board of directors voted Thursday to offer the job to Stephen Wright, 33, of Holly Springs. Wright has a varied background in mass transportation, including experience as a driver.

If he accepts the job as expected, he would be paid a salary of $50,000 plus benefits. He would begin work in early April.

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith and Goldsboro City Manager Joe Huffman had to choose from a group of "outstanding" applicants, Smith said. Wright was one of four people interviewed and two finalists who came back recently for second interviews.

Wright began work as a driver of a fixed route, such as Gateway operates, Smith said. He later ran the bus system at East Carolina University and then worked with Craven County's transportation system. He currently is a consultant for Route Match software.

Wright's experience has put him on a first-name basis with many people in the state Department of Transportation, Smith said. "I am thrilled to be able to get him."

Huffman agreed, saying, "I think he's a leader."

The board agreed to allow Wayne County to hire Wright, after which Gateway would contract with the county for his services. That will make Wright able to participate in the Local Government Employees Retirement System. He would not eligible as a Gateway employee.

The authority has not had a permanent director for three years. Bob Wands resigned in March 2002. After Gateway had trouble finding qualified applicants, Smith and former Goldsboro manager Richard Slozak agreed to jointly running the operation. Arlette Newton was primarily responsible for day-to-day operations.

Last summer, the board contracted with Apple Bus Co., a Missouri-based company, to assume management of the service. It operates transit systems nationwide, including ones in Rocky Mount and Edgecombe, Nash and Wilson counties.

In September, the board then contracted with David Eatman, Tar River Transit manager, to provide administrative services for Gateway. But he quit at the end of the 90-day contract because the duties were greater than expected, he said.

The executive director will be a liaison between Apple and the board. He will also be expected to work to expand ridership and to develop revenues.