Rural public transit in eastern Nebraska to continue with new agreement

July 1, 2019
At issue was the shifting boundary between urban and rural that put service at risk for those customers formerly in the rural area.

An agreement was reached June 28 between the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT), the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) and the Eastern Nebraska Office of Aging (ENOA) allowing services offered through ENOA's rural transportation program to continue through the end of October. 

In mid-May, the NDOT’s Local Assistance’s Transit Office became aware that the current program was operating out of compliance with the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Section 5311 requirements. Due to changes in urban and rural classification, the program’s authorized boundaries shifted causing a potential loss of services to those communities that now are considered in the urban boundary. The NDOT has been working with MAPA and ENOA to implement a resolution that would allow services to continue as currently offered through the combination of several federal grant programs.

“This resolution reflects a strong partnership between all parties that allows this vital service to continue,” said NDOT Transit Manager Kari Ruse. “Everyone involved has been committed to finding a quick and sustainable solution that brings us into compliance and continues to provide transit service to the Omaha community.”

The program currently provides public transportation to people residing west of 120th Street in Omaha, along with four other counties in Eastern Nebraska. Due to changes to the urban map, the new boundary was pushed to 180th Street, impacting those riders in between as well as riders in Papillion, Gretna and Bellevue. To be considered a rural trip and eligible for Section 5311 reimbursement, either the origin or the destination of the trip must be in a rural area. NDOT will continue to work with the FTA and metro-area stakeholders to establish long-term solutions.