02/27/08 — GATEWAY will end van service on weekends in county

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GATEWAY will end van service on weekends in county

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 27, 2008 1:50 PM

Despite the pleas of several city residents Tuesday afternoon, the Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted 3-1 to stop most of its weekend van service by the end of March.

The decision, made only after much debate and discussion, will end the by-appointment-only van service on Saturday evenings and Sundays.

Currently, the van runs from 4 a.m. until midnight, Monday through Sunday.

After the change, which will take effect on April 1, the vans will be available from 4 a.m. until midnight, Monday through Friday, and from 4 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. They will not operate on Sunday.

The decision does not affect the city bus service, which runs from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. They, too, do not run on Sunday.

But the decision to cut back on the vans, which run all over the city and county, was one that was made over the protests of several city residents.

"I count on Gateway vans on the weekends I work and during the week," Maxine Gaylord of Goldsboro told the board.

Because of the change, she explained, she could be faced with no way to get to work on Sunday mornings.

Also adversely affected by the decision is Tyrone Starkie, who explained in a letter to the board that because of his severe physical limitations, the handicapped-accessible GATEWAY transportation is his only option to get out of his house on the weekends and to church on Sundays.

"Really GATEWAY created this situation when we offered the weekend services," ex-officio board member and Wayne Opportunity Center Director John Chance said. "The folks we're talking about here are a small number, but they need those services."

However, GATEWAY Direc-tor Alan Stubbs and the majority of the board felt that cutting the hours was a decision that had to be made.

"This is a hard thing," Stubbs admitted. "I don't want to cut hours. I want to expand hours. But we've got to look at our expenses."

Even a suggestion by Goldsboro City Councilman and board member Donnie Chatman to look at reducing weekend hours, at least until the end of the fiscal year to see if more advertising could increase ridership, wasn't enough to change the vote. He was the only one to vote in opposition to the change.

The problem can be summed up by the last five weeks and the facts that they averaged less than one rider per hour and that the estimated cost of running the van service during those hours vastly outpaced the total income -- $1,372 to $880.

"We'd like to help everybody, but we can't do that," said Wayne County Commissioner and board member Andy Anderson before making the motion to cut the hours. "You're not there to serve a single person; you're there to serve the whole population as best you can."

And, board member John Forbes added before seconding the motion, if that means the fiscally responsible thing to do is cut services, then that's what has to be done.

"If you continue to take a loss, you're going to go out of business anyway," he said.