03/29/09 — Public transport input sought

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Public transport input sought

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 29, 2009 2:00 AM

Why do some people ride the GATEWAY bus system while others don't? What is the system doing right or what needs to be changed or added?

Those are the kind of questions that GATEWAY officials are hoping the public will help answer during a three-hour workshop this Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. in the large meeting room on the second floor of the Goldsboro City Hall Annex.

The workshop, the first of two public meetings to be held on the county's transportation needs, is part of a state study by Martin Alexiou Bryson, the consulting company responsible for the study.

The study, which will examine GATEWAY's performance and organization, is expected to take five to six months to complete.

People should not be intimidated by the length of the workshop, said Greg Saur, senior associate for Martin Alexiou Bryson.

"We will have refreshments and it is just a kind of a drop-in thing for the public anytime between 4-7 p.m.," he said. "Stations will be set up with poster boards, maps and information. A number of staff members will be on hand to answer questions. Every half hour starting at 4 p.m. there will be a brief slide presentation and overview of the project."

Both English- and Spanish-speaking staff will be on hand at the interactive booths to listen to comments.

"We really hope we can get the public to come out and give us some insight about the system -- any changes that need to be made and whether or not needs are being met or not being met," Saur said. "That could be as small as the need for a bench at a bus stop to as large as rail service to Raleigh.

"We are asking for comments and information and for people to write it down to be placed on the poster boards for others to see and possibly add a new perspective or insight. Hopefully there will be good ideas for all to see.

"We really value the input of those who ride since they are truly the ones who are affected but it. For those not riding, we would like to know why they aren't. We are hoping for a good turnout we really need to know what the people are looking for."

However, GATEWAY Director Alan Stubbs and Saur aren't waiting on the workshop to start gathering information.

Survey-takers rode the system's buses this past Wednesday and Thursday to talk to riders. Surveys are available, too, on the GATEWAY vans.

Stubbs has sent e-mails to the county and city asking that the surveys be placed on their respective websites. Also, copies have been distributed to the agencies, such as the Department of Social Services, whose clients ride the system.

Saur said the study has included working with the state Department of Transportation concerning organizational information that deals with budgets and ridership, the things the public doesn't see, but that are still important.

One goal of those meetings has been to look for alternative and innovative funding for the system, he said.

"The price of mobility will continue to increase," he said. "People who are not mobile will be limited in how they interact with others, and get to work. This will allow us to craft a plan to provide mobility options for people in Wayne County.

Any person requiring special assistance, such as sign language services or mobility assistance, or more information about the study , workshop, or GATEWAY should contact Greg Saur at 919-289-0328 or send e-mail to transit@mabtrans.com.