Local - Candidate Forums
12:39 am
Thu October 24, 2013

WAVE Transit Growth is key to Wilmington's Growth, say Three of Five Council Candidates

Listen to the audio version here.

The role of WAVE Transit – the public transportation system – that operates both within and beyond Wilmington City limits -- has evolved into a source of heated debate between the city and the county. 

At last night’s Wilmington City Council Forum, three of the six candidates vying for three open seats on council said they see public transit as more than a social service.   It’s an idea whose time has come, they say, for what is a growing urban area. 

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With a public perception of empty buses driving around town, Skip Watkins says further investment by local government is a difficult sell.  The whole system, says Watkins, needs an overhaul.  Incumbent Kevin O’Grady agrees that growth should be driven by demand, but says the focus should be on developing more “choice riders”.

“…the one who’ll ride it because rather than dealing with traffic, they want to sit on the bus and read the paper as they get to work in the morning.  We’re not there yet.  As a City, we’re just not there yet.  But we will be.  We have to change our thinking about it, though.  We have to stop thinking that outside of the city limits somehow it’s rural and doesn’t need public transportation.  I’m sorry – take a ride up Market Street outside of the City and tell me that’s not an urban area.”

Fellow incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem Earl Sheridan agrees that the future of WAVE lies in the hands of choice riders – and that it’s critical from an environmental standpoint as well.  To grow that sector, Sheridan suggests more aggressive advertising. 

“We might want to try to experiment at some point with something like park-and-rides or express lines or something of that nature – to try to appeal to folks who haven’t been riding WAVE Transit.” 

Derek Bickel says public transportation should be accessible to everyone – and the city should not have to foot most of the bill.