Local News

State's First Merged Bus System Short Of Cash

Posted May 23, 2001

— The state's first true merger between county and city buses is having some growing pains. The system that serves Goldsboro and Wayne County is out of money.

The newly merged bus system is about $100,000 over budget for its first year. There was some talk that employees would miss their paychecks, but driver Darryl Pitt is not worried.

"I'm pretty confident we'll get paid," he says. "It seems like all the other public service agencies in the county don't have problems getting paid."

The people in charge say the shortfall comes from unpredicted startup costs, specifically $85,000 for first-time employee health benefits, and $20,000 to move to a new building.

"Those costs (and the costs) associated with the dramatic rise in gasoline prices from the inception of the system have all come together to provide a little bit of a cost overrun for the system," says Raymond Smith, system executive director of Gateway.

Ridership is way up. More than 4,000 people ride the system every month.

"We're able to go downtown, we're able to go to Wayne Community College, to the doctor's office and pretty much get around town," says passenger Katrina Barnes.

The system is paid for primarily by state and federal grants, with local government picking up about 15 percent. Supporters say future costs should be less, and insist that the state's first merger between city and county transportation is here to stay.

The bus system would like to consider two big moneymakers to offset costs: advertisements on the buses, or a county-wide tax.

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