NORFOLK, NE— Public transportation began in the Norfolk community in the 1970s and celebrated 50 years of transit service last September. North Fork Area Transit has made a difference in the region every day since its inception by providing vital public transportation services in Norfolk and surrounding communities. These services are the backbone of affordable transportation options for residents and visitors to northeast Nebraska. The transit service is a main link to jobs, services, educational services, medical appointments, groceries, etc. – all impacting our local economy. Transit service is a success due to partner agencies who financially support the service and provide the local funding needed to keep services on the road and staff employed.
The December 2022 criminal investigation and fraud charges are an active case, and the Transit Board is cooperating with authorities, as required. As a non‐profit organization, facing and overcoming the total amount of money stolen from the agency is daunting and a major setback for everyone involved. This theft also impacts many local businesses who have supported transit service for many years. North Fork Area Transit is reeling from this fraud and suspended services on January 6, 2023, with approximately 60 employees losing their job.
The transit agency receives Federal Transit Administration funding and Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) funding grant reimbursements to fund transit services. In addition, NDOT provides access to its Mobility Management Team, who assists all 50 transit agencies in the state, including Norfolk. The Mobility Management Team has assisted Norfolk and the Northeast Region for over five years in transit planning services and operational support.
Who Is the Mobility Management Team –
Once the charges and warrant were issued, the North Fork Area Transit Board immediately reached out to NDOT and requested assistance from the Mobility Management team for additional services of agency oversight, administrative and operational assistance.
The Mobility Management Team consists of eight consultant firms who work with transit agencies across the country. The NDOT Mobility Management Team is led by Corinne Donahue, AICP, of Olsson. Ms. Donahue has over 25 years of public transit experience working with many rural communities across the US, in addition to assisting large urban transit systems, such as operational and facility assistance for Chicago Transit Authority. Ms. Donahue previously worked in Colorado Springs for the Transit Authority assisting and managing multiple projects, services, and grants.
Key members of the Mobility Management Team include:
Bob Bourne of Bourne Transit Consulting, based out of Ames, IA. Bob is a civil engineer by trade and was General Manager of CyRide, the Iowa State University transit system, for 25 years. With more than 40 years of experience in the transit industry, he has extensive knowledge of transit management, operations, training, safety, and marketing of bus services.
AT Stoddard, Ph.D., P.E. of LSC Transportation Consultants, is based out of Colorado Springs, CO. A.T. is a Senior Adviser at LSC’s Colorado Springs office. He has over 40 years of experience in civil and transportation engineering and holds Bachelors and Master’s Degrees in Civil Engineering and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. His primary areas of expertise are in transportation systems analysis, transit demand analysis, and multimodal transportation planning. He has directed rural transit planning studies in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming, and Arizona.
Katie Salerno and Hannah Sievers, Olsson Lead Planners, are also key staff for North Fork Area Transit and have worked with the agency in route and bus stop planning over the past two years.
The Mobility Management Team is assisting the Board in multiple functions at the agency, from assistance with bus and driver assignments over past several weeks, to management reviews, staffing, transit service reviews, payroll support, and invoices and accounting review. The Mobility Management team will be available to the Board as they navigate through these immediate challenges.
In addition to the Mobility Management team, the Board engaged a local professional accounting firm to outsource payroll and taxes for the agency. The review of 2022 payroll, tax reporting, and the financial audit will be completed by the firm.
By having this team of experts available to the Board, existing policies, and procedures, both internally and externally, will be reviewed and updated, if needed.
The North Fork Area Transit Board is steadfast on moving forward with transit service for Norfolk and surrounding communities. This agency is supported by multiple organizations who need transportation for staff and for clients, including the City of Norfolk, Madison County, Tyson, Northeast Community College, Faith Regional Hospital, Lindsay Corporation, United Way, Great Dane Corporation, and Norfolk Iron and Metal, as well as many individual donations coming into the agency.