On January 4, the Winston-Salem Transit Authority resumed charging bus riders in Winston for the pleasure of using its mediocre service. Bus fares had been suspended since last Spring in an effort to promote social distancing and limit driver/passenger interaction. Like so many Covid-19 measures, WSTA’s safety measures have been relaxed. But according to WSTA, buses are still being cleaned on an hourly basis and deep cleaning of the buses is being done after business hours.
Donna Woodson, WSTA General Manager, briefed the City Council’s Public Works Committee on Tuesday. When questioned by Councilmember John Larson, Woodson said that though ridership plummeted in 2020, CARES Act funding more than made up for the lost revenues. Actually, the money is there to keep bus service free but WSTA chose budget surpluses over free service.
It’s sad to see WSTA’s experiment with free bus service come to an end. Winston isn’t a large city, but it is a sprawling, racially segregated city. Free, robust public transportation could be an important tool in making Winston a more equitable city.
“They’ve thrown money to patch the hole, was it enough to keep us afloat or are we still sinking in the sense of our budget?” -Councilmember, John Larson
“Right now as it relates to the CARES Act money, we got a total of $12,389,000 million, a little over that, and to date, we have spent $9 million…” -Donna Woodson, WSTA General Manager
Presentation-WSTA Services Update