The concept of the Neighborhood Transportation Service (NTS) goes back to a televised town meeting held in 1993 at the Westminster Church in the Wellington Heights Neighborhood of Cedar Rapids. At that meeting, residents of Wellington Heights brought to light their inability to get to work due to the lack of affordable transportation available in the evening and on the weekends. Not only was there no publicly funded transportation available during the evening, many cab drivers refused to take calls in the Wellington Heights area after dark.
Over time, many entry-level jobs moved from the inner city to the outlying areas of Cedar Rapids leaving low income urban residents with no affordable transportation to get to work. No longer could inner city residents simply walk to nearby jobs. Many entry-level jobs are second and third shift jobs. They include manufacturing and industrial jobs, service jobs at restaurants, hotels and care facilities. Quality Chef, CCB Packaging and the Cedar Rapids Gazette are among the many that have moved. NTS bridges this spatial mismatch by providing affordable transportation to those who need to obtain or maintain employment.
NTS was founded in 1994 as a grass roots effort to meet this need for safe, reliable, and affordable evening and weekend transportation to and from work in the Wellington Heights Neighborhood of Cedar Rapids. NTS began through the partnership of United Way of East Central Iowa, The City of Cedar Rapids Five Seasons Transportation and Parking, Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association, and Jane Boyd Harambee House. Since that first year, NTS has expanded to serve the cities of Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Hiawatha. In 2015, NTS merged with Horizons and continues to expand services to better meet the needs of the community.