The Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority will offer a week of free bus rides to active duty military members and veterans starting Monday.
The rides will be available each day through Nov. 12, the day after Veterans Day, at bus stops throughout the county and from the main transfer station at 103 N. Carolina St.
This is the third year GWTA has provided bus rides at no cost to veterans and members of the military in an effort to recognize their service and sacrifice.
Edward Jones and Van Harvey, both Goldsboro natives, are drivers for GWTA. Both are Army veterans who drove trucks while in the military, which they said helped prepare them for the job they chose when they returned home.
Harvey spent two years in the military before getting married and having a child. Harvey said after her medical discharge, she was drawn to the idea of a small city like Goldsboro providing public transportation.
“I always admired the fact that this little town called Goldsboro would have public transportation because it was so well-needed,” she said. “I’d been living up North for a long time. I wasn’t in Goldsboro. When I came home and realized they had a public transportation system, I thought that was interesting and something I should look into.”
Jones spent six years in the Army, working in food transportation and storage. Born and raised in Goldsboro, he lived in California for 30 years after leaving the military, working as a bus driver. Eventually, he and his wife made their way east to Nevada and then all the way across the country to Goldsboro, where he naturally gravitated to working for GWTA.
“I’ve been back about five years,” Jones said. “Next month will be five years that I have been working for (GWTA),” he said. “This is the first place I applied for. I wanted to work for Gateway because, like (Harvey), I thought it was pretty neat. They didn’t have public transportation when I grew up here.”
Public transportation is a particularly useful service for veterans, Jones said.
“A lot of them don’t drive anymore, for whatever reason,” he said. “Public transportation is the only way they get around.”
“A lot of the veterans, I’ve realized, have (post traumatic stress disorder) and it enables them not to drive their own vehicles,” she said. “They’re dissociated from society, a lot of times. I think (GWTA) does great with offering them discounts. That’s a wonderful way to show them we appreciate them for what they’ve done for the country.”
The routes GWTA runs pass by several areas veterans may be interested in, said Don Willis, GWTA director.
“There are stops up and down Ash Street, Berkeley Boulevard, there are a lot of neat places to go,” he said.
The routes offer stops near restaurants, shopping centers and other places of business, Willis said.
The Veterans Ride Free week requires veterans and active-duty military to provide a military identification or a DD-214 discharge form, with a photo identification, prior to boarding. Willis said newer versions of state driver’s licenses designate veteran status, which qualifies as a form of identification.