Panhandle Connect "Microtransit On the Move", a new service being offered by Senior Services, Inc. based in Alliance, NE, launched their first rides in mid-October, 2019. This new service is in addition to their intercity bus service, Panhandle Trails Intercity Public Transit, which is the only intercity bus currently serving the Nebraska Panhandle.
Panhandle Connect is a public transportation service that utilizes volunteer drivers. It is considered a microtransit service focused on serving senior citizens, sixty years of age and older, and individuals with disabilities throughout the Nebraska Panhandle region.
Microtransit is on-demand transportation for everyone and does not restrict an individual’s mobility needs or their ability to use fixed route transportation. It often acts as an extension of regular transportation services through a partnership with public transportation departments. Panhandle Connect will provide curb-to-curb service and "first mile/last mile" transportation (the distance between a traveler’s origin/destination and a transit station/stop), where a rider may connect with bus, airlines and other forms of public transit services to desired destinations.
Panhandle Connect kicked off their first week by providing accessible transportation services to individuals in the rural areas of Box Butte and Sheridan (Nebraska) counties. This service empowered these individuals the ability to recuperate at home, reducing prolonged stays in regional medical and long-term care facilities, continued their ability to age in place in their own home, obtain physical therapy and dental care and to go grocery shopping. Like many rural residents without access to accessible transportation, this would have been impossible due to their need to travel outside the boundaries of local public transportation service areas.
Panhandle Connect services provide flexible scheduling and reliable service for thousands of Panhandle residents and has plans to expand, in time, throughout the region. Hours of operations are Monday through Saturday, 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Costs start at one dollar for senior citizens and those with disabilities. Services are available to the general public at a base rate plus mileage fee, also. Paid reservations are required by 4:00 p.m. the business day prior to travel and can be made Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.