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ORBT to start running with new downtown bus lanes

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 7:51 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Bus lanes are a big city amenity coming to the downtown metro when ORBT buses start running on Nov. 18. Jason Rose with Metro Transit said the dedicated lane will keep buses from slowing down and blocking parked cars.

“It will reduce the need for our vehicles to make a lot of moves and we can have a streamline shot so that will improve the total trip for everyone on board,” Rose said.

The lanes will start at 30th Street and run down the right side of Dodge and Douglas. About 1.5 percent of downtown parking was sacrificed.

Bus rider Nathan Preheim has lived in cities where he didn’t need to own a car because public transport was so widely used. He expects to rely on his car less with the ORBT system.

“I fully see a world where I hope on my bike, bike to dodge, but that bike on the ORBT then jet downtown for work,” Preheim said.

He’s hopeful others will embrace the commuter lifestyle.

“I couldn’t be happier Omaha is coming into the 21st century and I think it’s going to be a game-changer,” Preheim said.

Downtown vendor Marlon Taylor is less optimistic that it will sway people. He favors rideshare services like Uber.

“It might not calm down on driving in the city but it will increase the walkers and their method about getting around,” Taylor said.

Mode Shift Omaha is a group advocating for equal and accessible transportation. Member Isaiah Ang was hoping to see dedicated bus lanes for the entire route.

“We’re not only looking at our city today but at the future,” Ang said.

Ang said it’s a good first step to get people mobile who can’t afford the upkeep of a car.

“Being able to have access to good public transit will help people get to jobs it will help people get to clinics,” Ang said.

ORBT is hoping to attract more first time riders by offering four months of riding free.

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