January 12 saw the grand opening for Cedar County Transit’s expanded service into Knox County. Cedar County Transit is now offering rides originating in Knox County within a 30-mile driving distance from Hartington, Nebraska. This service expansion was made possible through the Community Rides Grant Program offered by National Rural Transit Assistance Program.
The expansion has been a great success through the first three months. In January they had 11 new passengers totaling 20 trips, and in February they saw an additional 17 new passengers with 50 trips. And in March Cedar County Transit set an agency record with 89 trips in one week.
Success like this of course is not just a result of money. Cedar County Transit Manager Nikki Pinkelman has been working hard with her community to build relationships across organizations, has updated her vehicle exterior to advertise the expanded service into Knox County, and drove a marketing campaign increasing the public’s awareness of their services through radio, newspapers, social media, and word-of-mouth recommendations. After these first three months of rapid expansion, the plan has been to retool the marketing from flooding the zone to reminders like a page insert into a local paper that is delivered to residents of Cedar County.
Cedar County Transit’s expansion into Knox County is funded through the grant program for the remainder of 2022, but the grant does expire at the end of the year. To help ensure this incredibly successful opportunity can continue beyond the lifetime of the grant, the Nebraska Department of Transportation Mobility Management team will work with Cedar County Transit to provide regular assessments of the project and report back on those to the transit agency and their community partners.