09/01/10 — GATEWAY enjoying new offices

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GATEWAY enjoying new offices

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 1, 2010 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority Tuesday morning met for the first time in its new leased offices -- offices that could be home until a new facility can be built.

The authority has a three-year lease with two one-year options on the 4,200-square-foot space and is paying $2,250 a month in rent. It is located across the street from the authority's GATEWAY transfer station, which is housed in an old fire station.

The move was not without some issues, said Alan Stubbs, authority executive director.

"We were without telephones for some time, Internet," he said. "It was tough. We had a tough week and I apologize for any inconvenience we might have caused any of our passengers."

Along with providing much-needed space, the office will provide an area for training, he said.

Just last week, GATEWAY was able to hold its first-ever state Department of Transportation workshop that attracted more than 30 people from across eastern North Carolina.

The workshop dealt with the maintenance and operation wheelchair lifts that are on buses. It also included a demonstration on how to lock down wheelchairs inside the vehicles.

"We haven't even had the space to train our own people very good," Stubbs said. "This gives us a nice area to train our employees which we have to do training constantly. It gave us a chance to show other people what we have done here.

"We will not be in the transfer station. We would have to build a whole separate facility like we are talking about on Clingman Street. We have got to get past the transfer station before we can even think about building anything else. The transfer station will probably take three to four years, my thoughts."

Stubbs was referring to plans to build a new transfer station as part of the Union Station renovation project.

The authority has received $855,000 in federal grants for the transfer station including a recent $500,000 federal earmark that will require a 10-percent match, $50,000 from both the city and state.

The transfer station project is expected to cost approximately $4.5 million. The city will be responsible for 10 percent of the project as a local match. If the project costs $4.5 million, the local match would be at least $450,000.

The city has not yet committed the funding.

Three sites were under consideration for a new GATEWAY office complex. County-owned property on Clingman Street near the animal shelter is the first choice.

There is no schedule for that project.

During Tuesday's meeting, Stubbs told authority members that two new 35-foot buses are expected to arrive around the first of October. The buses will be identical to GATEWAY's current 35-foot bus, other than for a newer-style engine.

Also to arrive soon are four 26-foot vehicles for the rural side of the system. Federal stimulus money was used to pay for all six vehicles.

Stubbs told the board he had yet to receive official approval from Berkeley Mall officials to build a bus stop complete with bench and shelter in front of the mall.

Stubbs said he had received "a verbal OK," but that mall officials had not responded to e-mails and telephone calls.

At last month's meeting, Stubbs said that mall officials did not want the 35-foot GATEWAY bus traveling through the mall parking lot.

In response to questions from his board, Stubbs said he could put in the bench and shelter on street right-of-way. However, Stubbs said he needs the mall's permission because he needs to cut an American Disabilities Act (wheelchair) ramp into the parking lot.

Stubbs said he is in the process of building 12 six-foot benches. Materials cost about $65 compared to the $500 to $600 it costs to purchase an eight-foot bench, he said.

Since there will be no back on the benches they will seat as many or more people at one time than the eight-foot ones, he said.

He reported a $102,000 gain in the working margin on the rural side. The increase is mainly the results of revenues exceeding expenditures.

Stubbs said that ridership has been down some, but that gasoline prices have been down as well.

Stubbs said fuel costs had been budgeted based on higher gasoline prices.