Metro’s ORBT hits millionth ride, officials say ridership steadily increasing

Metro is celebrating 1 million riders for ORBT -- and officials say ridership is increasing.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 10:12 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Metro Transit and ORBT are planning special events to celebrate the bus routes’ milestone one-millionth ride.

This Saturday, all fares on ORBT and all Metro routes will be waived, and special surprises will be placed on all ORBT buses throughout the day. Metro is also hosting an event at the Gene Leahy Mall from non to 3 p.m. Saturday to thank riders for utilizing the service.

By nightfall, Metro officials say there will be a surprise highlight alone the ORBT corridor near the 11th street promenade.

As Metro celebrates the milestone, CEO Lauren Cencic says ridership on the route has been steadily increasing since it opened in November 2020.

“What ridership growth on ORBT really shows is that high-quality transit service really makes a difference,” she says about the route.

ORBT opened at the height of the pandemic, and as more and more people return to public transportation of all kinds, Cencic says ORBT is hitting other milestones, too.

“Earlier this year in January, we had the highest ridership on dodge street that metro’s ever had, even before ORBT, before COVID, really seeing ridership grow throughout the ORBT corridor, it’s great.”

Metro says in January of this year, the average ridership on ORBT was 8,933, and in February it jumped to 9,685.

It’s now one of Metro’s most popular routes.

“Last year in 2022 Metro carried 2.6 million trips across the city, of those 2.6 million trips, 440,000 just last year were on ORBT,” she adds.

And it’s not just ridership that’s increasing - it’s development, too.

“In 2020 and 2021 there were over $500 million in permits for new development and redevelopment that was issued just along the Dodge corridor,” Cencic says. “[It’s] really showing the interest of the business community and investors to really focus on servicing areas and connecting to areas that have high-quality transit.”

ORBT’s success has led to questions about expansion, too.

Cencic says Metro hopes to soon connect other parts of the city.

“One of the things that came out of our strategic plan last year is looking at building enhanced service on the 24th street corridor, connecting all the way from north Omaha to south Omaha is really the next big project for Metro.”