News3 News Now Investigators


In the cold, man waits longer for Metro bus after wheelchair ramp fails

Omaha Metro says it's rare, but the North Omaha man says it's happened to him more than once
Posted at 6:30 PM, Nov 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 19:31:41-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With a bus coming on the 18 route every 15 minutes, Anthony Baker figured that's the longest he'd have to wait.

But when the bus showed up, the wheelchair ramp wouldn't lower mechanically. The driver tried the manual way, but that failed, too.

"I was just left there," Baker said.

The driver had no other choice. So Baker waited, with the temperature about 27 degrees Fahrenheit, and the wind chill at 15 degrees.

According to Omaha Metro, it was another 11 minutes before another bus showed up.

"I would like more consideration to be taken to make sure that the buses are maintained to a standard where ... those things work properly," Baker told 3 News Now, "And that and that they always work."

He says it's not the only time it happened to him; it happened last summer. And this time, the second bus' ramp couldn't mechanically lower, but it did manually.

Metro said protocols were followed once the ramp failed: dispatch was notified and determined the next bus would arrive 11 minutes later.

RELATED: Omaha man in wheelchair among some denied bus rides on ORBT

"If there would have been a larger lead time or there wasn't a bus coming for an extended period of time," said Metro Director of Safety Randy Sherping. "We would have dispatched another vehicle out to pick up the rider and get him to his destination."

Sherping said cases like this are rare. He said prior to Baker's case it had happened once in the last six months. The bus with an inoperable ramp was removed from service, he said.

"We're very in tune with our ADA community," Sherping said. "We want to make sure that we can get everybody where they need to go because we take people to work. We take people to church. We take people to the grocery store."

Pre-checks are done on each bus every day before it heads out, Sherping said. They're looking into if this bus had the issue during the pre-check on Wednesday.

"The basis of Metro is to provide safe, secure transportation to all members of our community, regardless of whether they're A.D.A. clients or not," Sherping said.

Baker said when it happened to him last summer, he was not charged a fare when the next bus picked him up. But he said this time he was charged. When asked, Sherping said they look at things like this on a case-by-case basis.

"The buses are reaching the end of their serviceable life," Sherping said. "The bus in question was put in service in August of 2010 ... Our maintenance department does a fantastic job in keeping these on the road."

Baker isn't convinced.

"You have to be in my shoes, no pun intended," he said, gesturing to his prosthetic legs. "You'd have to be in my shoes to see that that's not always the case"

Download our apps today for all of our latest coverage.

Get the latest news and weather delivered straight to your inbox