Some members of New Castle County Council and the NAACP are alleging Gov. John Carney decided the Rodney Square transit hub issue before the public comment period had started.
Carney acknowledges discussing permanently moving hundreds of buses from Rodney Square with members of the Wilmington business community. The email exchanges and meetings happened before DART announced public hearings last September.
Carney said moving the bus stops away from Rodney Square will help attract more companies and redevelop downtown Wilmington. He said the bus route changes were necessary after Bank Of America and DuPont moved many of their employees out of downtown Wilmington.
“It’s really important for us to cultivate that business climate to make sure it’s a safe an attractive environment and so this was part of that overall effort,” he said.
But Carney said he’s not suggesting those companies moved out because of the Rodney Square bus hub, adding his concerns about the situation there go back several years.
But New Castle County Councilman Bob Weiner said he’s concerned the move unfairly harms the poor and people of color. A 2012 DART fare increase proposal shows 49 percent of passengers are African American and more than half make less than $25,000 a year.
“It seems premature to have abruptly canceled bus service around Rodney Square until we’re ready to replace our integrated hub at the current bus depot," he said. "It appears to me that a challenge in court could be made to this policy and it remains to be seen if that will occur.”
Some civil rights groups are also expressing concern about the way the public process played out. President of the State NAACP Conference Linwood Jackson said the move discriminates against urban riders whose bus routes were moved away from Rodney Square while the suburban routes stayed at the hub.