Good stewards of city’s transit system

Phil Floyd - Guest Column

To the citizens of Wilmington: I will be leaving the position of Director of Public Transportation on the last day of December, 2015 with a heavy heart, but with great pride that we leave Wilmington Transit System in a healthy state, with a carryover of funds to start the New Year.

We are leaving knowing that we have accomplished much during these difficult economic times when many public transit systems struggled and were forced to reduce service and/or raise fares. We have worked very hard to maintain fares at the same level and maintain the level of service this community deserves and could rely on.

We leave knowing that in 2016 Wilmington Transit will receive 10 new vehicles, six of which will not cost the city a cent in matching funds. We leave with the knowledge that the city, in required matching funds, will be responsible for the lowest general fund allocation to the Transit Department since 1999, and reducing the required city share of matching funds by 60 percent in the last eight years

We leave with the knowledge that in 2016 Wilmington Transit will receive $168,000 in additional Tiger grant money to upgrade its call and dispatch system with state of the art mobile data systems that will be allow for even greater efficiency, which should allow for shorter wait times and greatly reduce paperwork. We leave feeling most gratified that we always put the community first, by being good stewards of the funding we received.

All of this would not have been possible without the very best staff of five full-time and 50 part-time people who truly care about those they assist and transport to their destinations. It also would not have been possible had it not been for the support of past and present city leaders.

I personally want to express my great gratitude to Mayor David Raizk, who first gave me the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful service, and to Mayor Randy Riley, who allowed me to continue this endeavor. Thanks to those past and present City Council members who supported me and Wilmington Transit.

I will forever be appreciative for all their help and kindness. And, of course, a very big thank you goes out to the citizens of Wilmington for the support over the years and the very kind words as we leave this post. I have been most grateful and honored to serve my community! This job certainly has been the most rewarding and gratifying job in my life, and I certainly will always cherish the experience.

With that said, I certainly am disappointed that our Mayor-Elect, Mr. Stanforth, approached the dismissal of me and several other city employees with such little respect and lack of compassion, and that he could have offered more than a simple, “I will no longer need your services after Jan. 1, 2016.” No explanation as to how these changes will benefit the community, no reasons, not even a simple thank you. That’s not who we are as a community!

Operating this service has become much more complex and requires constant vigilance to find ways to increase revenue, and efficiency, but without raising fares or reducing services. This community, especially our seniors our disabled and our workforce depend on this service, every single day.

We hope and pray that changes will not be made that will be detrimental to its successfully moving forward. I have great concerns that change is the key element in the new administration soon to take office.

You can be assured that if I see ideas advanced that will be detrimental to the Wilmington Transit System and its ability to provide service to this community, I will be vocal and ready to challenge any changes that negatively affect this service, especially to the elderly and disabled of our community.

Once again, thank you Wilmington for the many calls, visits and your words of kindness. Now, that’s who we are in this community!

Phil Floyd

Guest Column