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WAVE will cross the Cape Fear once again, just on a smaller scale

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At Thursday's Cape Fear Public Transit Authority (WAVE) meeting, the board took initial steps to bridge the Cape Fear River.

Wave will soon be signing a contract with Moovit and Bus.com to run microtransit across New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties. Users will be able to call for a shuttle service from anywhere in the service area, and they’ll get picked up. Wave Executive Director Marie Parker said users can walk to a digital bus stop to catch their rides.

“It works similar to a ride sharing service where someone utilizes an app or a call center where they can hail a ride," Parker said. "It'll be similar to a minivan or a small bus or either a smaller vehicle where it comes and picks them up from like a virtual stop.”

Parker hasn’t signed the contract yet, but the board granted her permission to negotiate the terms final terms and seal the deal.

Wave is set to contract with Moovit for the app and Bus.com for the vehicles and drivers. Service should begin October 1, 2021. It’s a year-long, grant-funded contract for 23,000 hours worth of service. The vehicles will get some kind of Wave branding, though it's unclear whether Finance Director Joe Mininni's impromptu idea- calling the new service "MicroWave"- will be the final choice.

The board also voted to change the downtown portions of two routes. First, the Port City Trolley will be shifted from Front Street to Harnett and Nutt, in order to service the convention center and the new Riverfront Park.

And Route 205 will be shifted from Front Street to 2nd inbound, in order to service businesses on that street that lost service when the downtown bus station was moved.