Omaha residents call for better public transit

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November 18th, 2010

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[audio:http://kvnonews.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/444-transportation-plan-web.mp3]

Omaha, NE – The city of Omaha took public input Tuesday night about the city’s transportation future. And fixing the bus system was a primary concern.

Omaha MAT Bus (Photo Angel Martin)

“Raise your hand if you took public transportation to this meeting?”

Michael Shinholser is a downtown Omaha resident.  He asked the first question of the night, directed toward the audience at the public meeting.  Four people in the crowd of about 100 raised their hands to say they’d used public transit that night. Shinholser said he walks, bikes or rides the bus whenever he can, but the city’s public transit system is inadequate.

“Buses don’t run on time, or they don’t show up at all or people they’re so inconvenient that people would prefer to just drive their own car.  It’s probably a more inconvenience thing than anything else but with the right planning we could eliminate a lot of that.”

Earlier this year, Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle announced a few transportation plans for the city which included the future development of a streetcar. He also announced the hire of a city bike coordinator to improve Omaha’s bicycle trails. This week, at the first public hearing, which begins the process of updating the city’s decade-old transportation plan, the audience’s main concern was an inadequate bus system. Rick Cunningham, the city’s planning director indirectly addressed these concerns.  Cunningham said although Omaha is an auto-centric city, the plan is to take a holistic approach with an emphasis on all transportation modes.

“One of the goals is to increase our mode split for active transportation from 2% currently to 10%.  It’s not huge increase but has a huge impact”.

Funding for the new transportation plan comes from a Douglas County and Live Well Omaha grant received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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