12/01/10 — Bus system will extend hours for the holidays

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Bus system will extend hours for the holidays

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

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A GATEWAY bus makes its way down Berkeley Boulevard early today. The transportation service will extend its hours later this month to help people get their holiday shopping done.

GATEWAY buses will operate on extended hours in the days preceding Christmas, members of the Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority decided Tuesday.

The board agreed to allow authority director Alan Stubbs and his staff to decide on extended hours of operation for the holiday season.

The extended hours and routes, expected to be decided later today, would be for Dec. 13 to 23.

Board members also agreed to make changes in drug-testing procedures for GATEWAY employees. The policy change was one of several that had been recommended by the county's human resources department.

According to the policy, GATEWAY will designate a facility where testing will be conducted. It also allows the drug tests to be administered at GATEWAY facilities by trained agency employees.

"Do you want to get into your own drug testing?" board member John Chance asked Stubbs.

Stubbs replied that he did not. But he noted that during a recent compliance review by the Federal Transportation Authority, one of the agency's deficiencies was drug testing at times other than between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"I have to meet FTA guidelines," Stubbs said. "I don't plan to be written up again."

He said the other drug-testing hours are needed because some employees are at work by 4 a.m. They should be tested at that time instead of hours later, he said.

Chance said he thought it would be better to have the drug testing conducted by an outside agency so that employees would not be able to say that the test was biased.

Stubbs said that the actual testing is done by an outside lab. Being certified only means that he would be able to collect the sample for testing and not doing the actual testing, Stubbs said.

Board member Bruce Gates asked how names were selected at random. Stubbs said that the testing company sends him a list of names.

The extended holiday hours will help both shoppers and stores, board members said.

"It is only for two weeks, and we have a lot of merchants out there who need the business," Chance said. "People depend on us for transportation. They work from 8 to 5 and need those extra hours."

"I would encourage us to do it if it can be done safely," said board member Bob Waller.

Board member Pam Holt suggested extending the hours, but looking at specific routes. Stubbs agreed that it would not be necessary to extend hours on all of the routes.

In other business, Stubbs told the board that four 22-foot light transportation vehicle buses bought with federal stimulus money have been put into service.

The buses cost $68,700 apiece. GATEWAY had to pay $2,000 for license tags and taxes on each vehicle, he said.

An open house at GATEWAY's new offices on North Madison Avenue has been planned for Dec. 22 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. The offices are located across Madison Avenue from the GATEWAY transfer station.