Why Does It Matter?
Increased access to employment means economic growth for our community.
Connecting people to employment through public transit allows more people access to jobs and is essential to the economic growth of our community. Reliable and efficient transportation increases the job stability of people who use public transit to get to work, and gives them more time to spend with family and friends. It also provides an opportunity for increased development around new or expanded transit centers that is seen in other cities such as Salt Lake.
Currently, fifteen-minute transit routes are limited and miss a number of employment centers, specifically in the southwest corner of our community where we are seeing significant job growth. Building out the infrastructure of public transit systems is expensive and difficult, especially given that our region’s current spending on public transit is low compared to the national average and median spending. Average public transit spending per person in the Metro area was $36 in 2013. Nationally, the average amount of public transit spending per person was $76, with a median spending of $56. The lack of efficiency and access throughout the region’s public transportation still outweigh the relatively low costs of using public transit in Omaha-Council Bluffs metro.
However, more strategic investment in public transit has begun with Metro’s planned 8-mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that will ultimately provide faster and more efficient routes along the busy Dodge Street corridor, and connect with almost all existing transit lines. While the BRT will offer unprecedented transit service to the area, it is a costly endeavor that has taken more than five years of planning and development and a $30 million price tag to come to fruition. As our community continues to expand beyond the current routes, we will need decide whether to develop new routes, continue to increase the availability of current routes, or change how we plan for future development of employment centers.