Wave Transit Mission and History

Mission and Goals

The mission of the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority (Wave Transit) is “to develop and maintain an effective, efficient, and safe system of public transportation services within Southeastern North Carolina which is responsive to the mobility needs of the community. Transportation services provided shall be designed to maintain and encourage the use of public transportation and shall contribute to the economic vitality of the community, the conservation of natural resources and the protection of the environment.”

The goals of Wave Transit are as follows:

  1. Provide cost effective transportation services which optimize the utilization of personnel, vehicles, and other resources and which are operated with a minimum of public subsidy.
  2. Provide transportation services which meet the mobility needs of the community, within available financial resources.
  3. Develop funding options which assure the continued stable operation of transportation services at a public subsidy level acceptable to the community.
  4. Develop policies which assure, as much as possible, that transit services are designed and operated to encourage maximum utilization by the community. Service should be provided first in areas where the greatest potential for use exists.
  5. Promote the use of public transportation services within the community. This includes both providing adequate and up-to-date information on services available and aggressively marketing the transit system.
  6. Expand public transportation to new areas of the community as demand estimates and population densities indicate that service will be sufficiently utilized within established service standards.

The Goals of the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority will be reviewed and revised, as needed, during the budget development process. These goals and objectives will guide the development of capital and operating budgets, service planning, and operation of transit services. Adopted: June 09, 2005

History of Wave Transit

Created in 1974, the Wilmington Transit Authority (WTA) was initially implemented to provide public transportation to the citizens of the Wilmington area.

In December 2002, the WTA adopted the name Wave, as well as a new logo and color scheme for the Authority. This change reflected a new vision for public transportation in Wilmington. Capitalizing on our coastal environment, the name Wave allowed greater name recognition throughout the area and positively represented public transportation throughout the region.

Rapid sprawl and rising traffic congestion throughout the region led the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County to enter into an historic agreement in June 2003. The city and county merged the WTA and New Hanover Transportation Services to form the Wilmington/New Hanover Transportation Agency (WNHTA). This agreement merged the respective organizations for one year, in order to provide oversight of both agencies under one public transportation authority.

In July of 2004 the WNHTA, the WTA and NHTS were dissolved and a new transportation authority was created. The merged entity officially became the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority, but kept the name Wave Transit.

In an effort to better serve the community, in 2011, Wave Transit restructured all fixed routes in the region. The new routes were based on a modern transfer facility, Forden Station, which is centrally located within the service area. Expanded service required additional infrastructure, and a 36,000 square foot Wave Transit Operations Center was built to house a maintenance shop, bus garage, fueling station, and serve as the epicenter of service operation; the Operations Center opened in June 2015. The most recent improvement, a downtown multimodal transportation center, Padgett Station, replaced an open air transfer point on 2nd St in January 2020.


Wave Transit is a member of the following professional organizations: