Mobility team continues to help get buses going again.

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Jerry Guenther, Writer

MADISON — Long before the alleged embezzlement came to light in December at North Fork Area Transit, the Nebraska Department of Transportation had been assisting the community to try to improve transit services.

That was among the points made Tuesday as Corinne Donahue provided the Madison County Board of Commissioners with an update of the most recent events with the transit. Donahue is the project manager for the Nebraska Department of Transportation Mobility Management Team.

Northeast is one of six mobility regions in the state. Planning and studies have been taking place over six years, with public open houses, including one in Norfolk.

Donahue said one of the overwhelming responses was that more transportation services were needed in Norfolk.

A study in 2019-20 indicated that a flex route rather than a fixed route would be advantageous in the Northeast region. The study, which is about an inch thick, is available to the public.

“The focus of that study was the flex routes that are in Norfolk, and also the regional services that included Madison County, including two significant employers that you guys know,” Donahue said. She did not publicly identify the employers.

Service expansions last fall included to Wayne and Great Dane, a trailer and truck body manufacturer.

Going forward, this community of 25,000 to 30,000 people still needs the services, Donahue said.

Commissioner Ron Schmidt said he would like for the county to provide additional resources, but there is no way it can.

It also bothers Schmidt that there are now about 70 employees who aren’t working. Some of them told him that they loved the job, and then there are the employers hurt because some of the employees can’t get to work now, Schmidt said.

Donahue said someone or several in the community are going to have to step forward now with funds, or the service goes away.

The amazing news is that a foundation has stepped forward to provide $500,000, she said.

“If we had a match to that (amount), we would be going in a week,” Donahue said.