The possibility of bringing a streetcar to Omaha is back on the front-burner. Urban planners say any city considering spending tens of millions of dollars to get one up-and-running needs to answer two specific questions – who’s going to ride it and why?
Reporter Maya Saenz went to downtown Omaha and the Midtown area to speak to residents.
“I’ve been to a lot of bigger cities and seen how useful it can be,” said Matt Schultz of Council Bluffs.
Schultz crosses the Missouri River several times a week to go to the Old Market.
“Coming from Council Bluffs, if it would expand over there, eventually, I could see using it more,” said Schultz.
“I think it’s perfect timing,” said Anthony Stallworth, who works downtown. “They’re building so much stuff down here and in the midtown area. They’re linking two big places together. And people will love it; they’ll be able to ride it to work, to their apartments, to bars, no more drunk driving.”
Others like Andrew Prystai, who live and work downtown, believes his travel time could be cut in half without having to drive.
“I personally keep a count - because I work and live downtown - of all the times I would use it, and it's numerous. I live right by 19th and Dodge and it takes me 7 to 8 minutes just to drive to Blackstone, yet alone finding parking there. I could almost get across town in half of that time of time just due to the stop lights and one-way streets,” said Prystai.
No official plan has been presented for the streetcar, however a consulting firm is expected to present one at the end of month with more details.