Rural Transportation Program in Eastern Nebraska ending this summer

The Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging announced today it will end its Rural Transportation Program in June.
Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 5:30 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - People who rely on the Rural Transportation Program run by the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging will have to find a new ride starting this summer.

The program serves Cass, Dodge, and Washington counties, and limited areas of Sarpy and Douglas counties. ENOA is cutting the program after a grant from the Department of Transportation expires.

Marv Steffensmeier with the Fremont Friendship Center is saddened to hear about the cut. He says many seniors come to the Fremont center for fun, food, and fellowship. Some rely on the program to get there.

“And I know a lot of people in the community that use that program that do not come out here as well,” Steffensmeier said.

“We’re sad to see the program close because we know there’s a need for affordable transportation,” said Chris Gillette, ENOA’s Community Services Division Director.

ENOA’s Executive Director, Trish Bergman, says the governing board decided not to reapply for the grant. Citing rising costs of transportation, Bergman says the grant covers only a part of the program’s costs, and ENOA handles the rest.

“There just isn’t the funding for it,” Bergman said.

The program is aimed at older people and people with disabilities. However, anyone within the boundaries can use it for any reason. Bergman says people are served on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Even though we encourage older adults to use this program it doesn’t mean they’re always going to get a ride.”

Bergman says the program serves about 40 people a day which is relatively small, compared to other ENOA programs.

Bergman says the funding will move to other programs that provide in-home and caregiver services, like Meals on Wheels. She says this is needed, especially since the Baby Boomer generation is aging.

ENOA is in the process of notifying people who use the program. They’re also offering a list of other available resources.

The last day of the Rural Transportation Program is set for June 30.