Tell us a little of your transit system’s background and history. How did the system start and where is it today?
Cedar County Transit started in 1979 with the help of local Senator Elroy Hefner. Initially it was called the Handibus and was a one-person system. Through the years it has slowly grown. Currently we have 10 vans, 10 part-time drivers and a full-time manager and scheduler. In September 2020, we acquired TripMaster software and this has made life easier, making us more efficient and improving our paperwork, reporting, and scheduling processes. We are excitedly awaiting the completion of new our transit facility, it will house all our vehicles, have a wash bay, office, restrooms, and meeting room.
How long have you served as the manager?
I, Nikki Pinkelman, started with Cedar County Transit in August of 2016. I was hired as part-time, we had two vans and one bus. My goal was to get rid of the handibus stigma and spread awareness about our public transit system to all our county residents. Within a year we were growing, my position changed to full-time, and we have kept adding drivers, vans, and a full-time scheduler.
How does your transit system serve the local community?
We are open Monday-Friday from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. and are open to all residents of Cedar county, Nebraska, serving all the small communities and rural areas. We have low trip fares, accept Nebraska Total Care and United Healthcare Medicaid, and work with nursing homes. We are a door-to-door, on-demand service with five ADA accessible and five standard minivans.
What are some highlights of serving your community?
I truly enjoy assisting all our patrons with their transportation, helping them maintain their independence and keep up with their social interactions.
What are some challenges you see facing both your transit system and the industry as a whole?
Some transits face drivers shortages, we are lucky there. We have a fabulous group of employees who help us to be a successful transit team. My drivers are all willing to go the extra mile. We experienced several challenges with COVID over the past year, but with great resources, extra funding, vaccinations, and better sanitation policies we are back running at full capacity now.
How does being a member of the Nebraska Association of Transportation Providers benefit your system?
We have been a member of the NATP for years. They help provide us with resources and are instrumental in planning transit events like meetings, training, and the Roadeo. Nikki is currently serving on the NATP board as the secretary and enjoys the firsthand information and helping to make decisions.
What do your riders think of your transit system?
Our residents seem to be 100% appreciative of our transit. They like the flexibility of the on-demand system.