Creekwood residents are upset that bus stops in their neighborhood have been cut out of Wave Transit's map, and they spoke out — sometimes loudly — during the agency's board meeting Thursday.
About 30 people attended, most of them to protest the removal of six stops in and around Creekwood.
"It's taking from the poor and giving to the rich because the majority of them have cars and stuff. We don't," said Glendora Mullins, a Creekwood resident.
When Wave's new routes went into effect on Feb. 4, they were supposed to offer service to more places while also helping the buses run on time.
Wave's ridership counts showed about 10 to 15 people got on or off the bus in Creekwood every day before the changes, but the residents disputed those numbers.
"Everybody in Creekwood rides that bus. We got about 200 residents in there, and the majority of them take the bus," Mullins said.
Though the transit agency held public hearings and posted notices on buses about the changes, residents complained that they didn't get sufficient warning.
"I thought it was drastic, and it was so sudden," said Kyrean White, who lives in Creekwood. "They've been planning it for a year, and at the same time we saw notices and everything, but a little bit more time and notice that they were going to make this change would have helped. It was a very drastic change."
Residents weren't the only ones who thought the changes could have been communicated better. Jonathan Barfield, the New Hanover County Commissioners' representative on the board, said he learned about the new routes from the newspaper and didn't know all of Creekwood's stops would be cut before the decision was made.
Barfield missed January's meeting, where the route changes were voted on, because he was attending an N.C. Association of County Commissioners meeting in Raleigh.
Wave saw a decline of about 8 percent in ridership in February, similar to the decline the agency saw after altering routes in 2008. A fare increase, from $1.50 to $2, also took effect at the beginning of February.
Albert Eby, Wave's executive director, has emphasized throughout the process that the agency would be willing to revisit the new routes after the changes took place, and has already made minor revisions in four places.
Those tweaks include shifting service on Route 103 from UNCW to College Road and adding five stops on College; restructuring Route 104 to service four stops on Randall Parkway after construction slows down; adding four stops on College Road for Route 107; and restructuring Route 202 to add service to the Senior Resource Center and Roland-Grise Middle School.
"Change is hard, no doubt about it, but I think enough people have looked at this and enough smart people have looked at this that the changes are going to have a positive impact once everybody gets used to them," Eby said.
Adam Wagner: 343-2096
On Twitter: @adamwagner1990
Copyright 2013 - Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.