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Having access to reliable and timely transportation impacts someone’s options for work, school, shopping, and healthcare. Life in the Omaha metro is significantly more challenging and may impose limitations for those who don’t have access to a car. We need to see more connectedness within our community, especially through improvements to public transit, walking, and bicycling.
Public Transit Access
The current transit system is more focused on trying to reach everyone rather than being centered around high-density areas.
A 2013 market analysis report found that, of 34 total routes, nine of them — 26% — are disproportionately serving more than half of all riders. Five public transit routes serve 42% of the riders, and four routes serve an additional 20% of riders.
Nebraska and Iowa both rank low in public spending on transit.
While we don’t know how other communities compare in terms of direct access, we can compare ourselves to what other communities spend on transit. Nebraska and Iowa both rank in the bottom 15 states for per capita public spending on transit.
Biking & Walking
We have very few paths that travel east to west, so pathways are primarily used for recreation rather than transit.
In the Omaha metro, biking and walking to work have remained consistently low over the last 10 years. A 2019 ConnectGO survey found that 65% of respondents did not feel safe riding a bicycle for transportation.
Iowa ranks higher than Nebraska for walking and biking to work.
When compared to other states, Iowa ranks 17th and Nebraska 26th in their percentages of residents who walk or bike to work.
Average Commute Time
For 30% of people who use public transit in our community, it takes over 45 minutes to get to work, compared to 6% of people who drive a car.
In a 2019 ConnectGO survey, about 65% of people reported a lack of satisfaction with the quality of transit service in the Omaha metro, and 60% reported a lack of satisfaction with the current service area of public transit. Projects like the new BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) are key to increasing efficiency in public transit.
We are faring better than St. Louis and Kansas City but not as well as other cities in the Midwest.
We have, however, improved our travel to work times using public transit since 2012 by 10%.
Transit to and from Work
People at all income levels use public transit at a consistently low rate.
Less than 3% of people in our community use public transit to get to work. While public transit use is consistent across income levels, rates of people who carpool increase for those living below the poverty line.
We fall below national public transit usage rates but are on par with our regional peers.
When we look at similar Midwest cities, our transportation use rates are almost identical. Carpooling was also greater for those living at or below the poverty line.
2013 Heartland Connections: Regional Transit Vision Feasibility Analysis, FTA State Spending
The American Community Survey 2019 5-year Estimates Table B08101, The League of American Bicyclists
U.S. Census American Community Survey 2019 5 Year Estimates, Table B08134, 2020 Connect Go Goals and Principles Report
U.S. Census American Community Survey 2019 5 Year Estimates, Table B08122