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Wave Transit Requests Carolina Beach Help Fund Beach Bus Route

Wave Transit Bus in downtown Wilmington, NC. Route 301 serving stops in Carolina Beach connects to Wilmington and New Hanover County routes.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Wave Transit is asking the Town of Carolina Beach to contribute $8,500.00 a year to Route 301 which serves the Carolina Beach area connecting to routes throughout Wilmington, New Hanover County and surrounding areas.
Earlier this month Dave Scheu of Wave Transit wrote to Mayor Dan Wilcox, "As you may be aware, over the past fifteen months Wave Transit has operated Route 301 Pleasure Island, offering public transportation between Wilmington and New Hanover County's southern beaches.  The route has been very successful with continued growth expected.  I have enclosed an initial analysis of the route for your review."
Scheu explained, "The Authority would like the opportunity to discuss the future of Route 301 with you and other town representatives.  At the WMPO Transportation Advisory Committee meeting last week Authority Executive Director Albert Eby had a conversation about the route with Council Member Doetsch who indicated interest in the discussion as well.  Please let me know when would be a convenient date and time to meet to discuss the future of public transportation in our area."
According to the analysis provided by Scheu, on June 28, 2012 the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority unanimously endorsed the Wave Short Range Transit Plan. The plan recommended a coverage model for fixed route service model which would increase the areas served by the Authority. Feedback during the public participation portion of the planning process demonstrated a high level of support for bus service to the areas beaches.
The analysis report from Wave states, "Following a period of route restructuring analysis and input, the Authority introduced restructured routes on February 03, 2013. Feedback since the restructuring regarding the expanded coverage area has been mostly positive. Additionally, ridership is slowly returning to pre-restructuring levels despite a thirty-three percent fare increase. In keeping with pervious service expansions, the Authority assumed all costs with the service expansion to Pleasure Island to evaluate effectiveness."
According Wave's analysis, ridership on Route 301 has grown rapidly and has remained consistent when seasonal adjustments are considered. By comparison, Route 204 Brunswick Connector debuted with 106 passengers in January 2004 and grew to 321 passengers by January 2005. During that thirteen month period, Route 204 ran once every hour and made twelve trips per day as opposed to the four trips per day by Route 301. Given ample opportunity for the public to embrace the route, the Brunswick Connector currently averages over 2,000 passengers per month.
According to the analysis, "Passengers per mile for Route 301 averaged .36 during the first thirteen months of service. Passengers per hour during the same period was 6.18. in 2012, the last year data was reported to NTD, Wave Transit’s system wide average was 1.13 passengers per mile and 16.11 passengers per hour. Overall, Route 301 has exceeded initial expectations and support for the route is comparatively strong. Boarding counts and passenger surveys are planned for summer 2014 to assess passenger trip origin and destination as well as trip purpose. If the route is continued, ridership is expected to increase as the route is marketed, and as passengers become more convinced that the route will  continue operation."
The analysis states, "Financial support from the municipalities served is critical. The Town of Carolina Beach is a direct recipient of the benefits provided by the route. These benefits include: reduced congestion; increased sales tax revenues; an increased pool of employees available to local businesses; service to Carolina Beach residents who need transportation to medical, educational and employment opportunities not available on Pleasure Island; and a healthier environment from reduced vehicle emissions."
The analysis states, "As a regional provider, Wave Transit has an established model for calculating local match contribution rates. The model was developed for service to Brunswick County and offers federal and state subsidies to minimize the impact on local governments. Based on the number of miles the route travels through the Carolina Beach corporate limits and the total cost of the route, an annual contribution of $8,500.00 by the Town is warranted. This report recommends initiating a dialogue with the Town of Carolina Beach to gauge support for Route 301."
Mayor Dan Wilcox said preliminary discussions would need to involve the Town Manager.  Scheu agreed explaining preliminary discussion would be beneficial, after which the Town can determine how to proceed.
For Route 301, adults pay $2. Seniors, persons with disabilities, students K-12th and local college students pay $1. UNCW students and staff ride for free. Stops include:
• Monkey Junction Walmart where riders can connect to other Wilmington and New Hanover County routes.
• Carolina Beach Road / Masonboro Commons.
• Veteran's Park Visitor Center (Ashley High School)
• North Lake Park Blvd at Carolina Beach Town Hall.
• Carl Winner & North Lake Park Blvd.
• North Lake Park Blvd / Risley Road.
• Veteran's Park Visitor Center (Ashley High School).
• Carolina Beach Road / Golden Road.
The bus runs Monday to Saturday from 7:30am to 7:30pm every three hours. On Sunday the route runs from 10:30am to 4:30pm.
In 2011 the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority  (Wave Transit) released plans to expand bus service to Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.
In order to fund that expansion, they proposed an additional vehicle registration tax of up to $7 dollars per vehicle to generate an estimated $1,104,040.00 in revenues to cover that expansion and system funding in general.
The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners did not favor an additional tax on citizen's vehicle registrations to fund public transportation and the fee never became reality.
For more information on Wave Transit and Routes including 301 to Pleasure Island, visit them online at