By: Jackson Piercy, Reporter
OMAHA, Neb. – Traffic: you can’t stand to live with it, and if you live in Omaha, you can’t live without it. Whether it’s potholes, road work, or even the other drivers themselves, traffic seems almost unavoidable these days.
Jameson Brettmann, a UNO Student who commutes from out of town, has some choice words for the Dodge Street experience.
“I haven’t had any good experiences driving along Dodge Street,” Brettmann says. “Nobody knows how to drive here, at all. Around this time of year, the thing that sucks the most are the potholes… I hit one about a foot big. That’s pretty big.”
And he’s not the only one. The volume of traffic, especially around intersections like here at 72nd and Dodge, can see as many as 80,000 cars go through every day. It’s even bigger down the street at 90th and Dodge, which can see over 100,000 cars a day, according to a report by Omaha Public Works.
How can we most effectively clear out these roads? City planner Jeff Spiehs has a solution: expand public transportation. However, that doesn’t come without its challenges.
“… we spend, per capita, about 39 to 41 dollars per person, on public transportation.” Spiehs says. “A city like Minneapolis spends about $440 dollars per person.”
However, the positive impact of public transportation may far outweigh the costs, according to Spiehs. With an expansion to public transportation, Omaha can mitigate economic damages done to communities of color, the disabled, and the elderly, by giving them the opportunity to become mobile.
With that mobility, people will have better access to jobs, education, and parts of the city that may not have been available to them without a car. All that is required of Omaha to make this happen? Give the bus a chance.
In the next five to ten years, Omaha is going to see not only an expansion to the Orbit Bus system, but also a streetcar along Farnam St. coming in 2026.
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