Residents wanting to make evening trips to Wal-Mart or Piggly Wiggly will be able to continue with the Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority permanently offering bus service until 7:30 p.m.

Two of the most popular GWTA bus routes -- the blue and purple -- will operate one hour later than other buses, following a trial run this year to determine the need for nighttime service.

GWTA, based at the 103 N. Carolina St. transfer station, traditionally provides bus service on five city routes from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Since January, extended evening hours have been provided until 8:30 p.m. on the blue route, which makes stops at Wal-Mart on Spence Avenue and the Berkeley Mall, and the purple route, which travels to several housing communities and Piggly Wiggly, on Lionel Street.

"These two routes are by far the most popular," said Fred Fontana, director of the Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority.

Based on evening ridership, Fontana recommended to the Goldsboro City Council a reduction in service hours to 7:30 p.m., instead of the later 8:30 p.m. He asked that the evening hours also become permanent, which the council approved.

"What we noticed was the majority of these additional riders were on the 6:30 to 7:30 buses," Fontana said. "When you got to 7:30 and 8:30, we only had two to three each day. Some days we had none.

"At this point, I really think that we need to just focus on making it permanent from 6:30 to 7:30 for those two routes."

The annual cost of providing the additional service hours is $26,800, with the city of Goldsboro and the Federal Transit Administration each paying half the cost, Fontana said.

City leaders are also considering extending bus service hours into the evening during the Christmas holiday shopping season.

"We would do the entire system," Fontana said. "We would do the five routes, and it would be from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

"I would think they would want to go to 8:30 p.m. to give people time to shop, and that would be my recommendation."

Fontana plans to seek council approval in September or October to extend the evening bus route hours starting Nov. 24 and continuing through Dec. 23. The additional service hours are estimated to cost $8,000, with the city paying half the amount, Fontana said.

GWTA is already planning to recognize Veterans Day by providing no-cost bus rides to active and retired military personnel starting Nov. 6 and continuing through Nov. 11.

"We did it last year, and we got a lot of positive feedback, so we're going to do it again this year," Fontana said.