GATEWAY to weigh fares for students
By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 23, 2009 1:46 PM
Reduced bus fares for students are expected to be approved Tuesday morning when the Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority meets.
The authority, which operates the GATEWAY bus system, also is reviewing a number of route changes, including the addition of a new express route.
A public hearing on the fares and routes will be held at 10 a.m. in the anteroom of the historic City Hall.
"If we have enough people, there we will go to another location," said Authority Director Alan Stubbs. "If anyone comes and no one is in the room we will have a note on the door telling where we are. We will make sure we have room for everybody who wants to come."
The meeting is the board's regular every-other-month session. The hearings are required when proposed service changes are considered, Stubbs said.
During the hearing, the board will be asked to allow riders with student identification -- from elementary school to college -- to pay a reduced fare.
"What we are requesting is for the board to allow students to ride one way for 50 cents or they can buy an all-day ticket for $1," he said. "I encourage people to buy the all-day ticket for $1. You may say, 'Why? I'll just purchase a 50-cent ticket each way and that is a dollar.' But they may decide they want to go somewhere else later on in the day.
"You can go anywhere you want to. This is not school transportation -- if they want to go to the school, to the mall, Wal-Mart or downtown or go visit grandma, wherever they want to go they ride wherever the city bus goes."
Currently, the cost is $1 each way and an all-day ticket is $2.
Stubbs said he had received a request for the reduced rates from Barbara Wilkins, the graduation coach at Goldsboro High School.
"There are some students staying after school who do not have transportation home," Stubbs said. "She asked if there was anything we could possibly do to reduce the fares for students. I talked with the board members at the last meeting and they were all in favor of it.
"But we have to go through the process of a public hearing."
Currently there are two stops at the high school on both sides of Beech Street, he said. There are stops close to some of the other schools as well.
"I am fixing to add a stop on the South End route near Carver Heights Elementary School," Stubbs said. "It's not only for students riding. There may be some workers at these schools who need a ride to and from work and they can ride and pay the regular fare. They can leave their car at home."
However, the focus of the routes will be adding the express route, he said. The route will make stops at Jefferson and Ash streets, the Health Department, the Public Library, Wal-Mart, Wayne Memorial Drive, Wayne Community College and Jefferson United Methodist Church.
The new route would start Dec. 14.
"It will start out as the reverse part of the Berkeley route," Stubbs said. "It will go over and take over some of the Wayne Memorial route. Currently, we get students out to Wayne Community College before the hour so they can get to class on time. But students getting out of class don't have time to get to the bus stop and they have to wait. This bus is coming back probably 15-20 minutes after that (first) bus so students getting out of class have time to catch this one.
"Anyone can come (to the public hearing) and make suggestions on what they would like to see."
Also on the table are changes to the other routes.
On the North End route, Stubbs is proposing to eliminate stops at Cherry Hospital and both O'Berry stops (shuttles from the GATEWAY transfer center to designated bus stops could be sent as needed), APV and Elm Street at James Street.
Stops would be added at the Wayne Opportunity Center, George Street at Wayne Avenue, John Street at Olivia Lane and Ash Street at Slocumb Street.
The Wayne Memorial route would add a stop across from Woodard Care and the Berkeley Mall route would add a stop near the Montessori School at Tonya Street and Harding Drive.
A number of stops on all of the routes would be shifted as well
"One of the reasons for the changes is that we have been zigzagging through the city so much," Stubbs said. "Buses cannot make a lot of the turns. It is very rough on our equipment. We have had some springs to break because of some of the turns we are having to make.
"Also, time-wise we have tried to cut out the zig-zag so we can keep the buses on schedule better. Some people may have to walk a little further than they have been walking, but it will still be very convenient for them."
One change the public may balk at could be the Wal-Mart stop on Spence Avenue, he said. The stop will be moved to Spence Avenue in front of the store.
"Now we go through that shopping center (parking lot) and it takes forever," he said. "Also it is very dangerous going in and out of there. That (move) will probably save us five minutes."