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TWO AMERICAS: Accessible transit in Omaha comes with limitations

Posted at 6:53 PM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 19:53:10-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Logan Finn prides himself on being able to travel around Omaha.

Through years of experience, he’s gained the skills and knowledge necessary to use public transit.

“It’s trying at times, but again, with me being so mobile, I can pretty much conquer anything," Finn said.

Finn is one of many Omahans that use MOBY, Metro Transit’s curb-to-curb, paratransit service.

Each month, anywhere from 7,000 to 13,000 trips are made using the fleet which consists of 30 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible vehicles and 25 drivers.

Moby mirrors Metro Transit’s fixed bus routes and makes stops within ¾ of a mile of each route.

For Melanie Davis, a board member with Mode Shift Omaha, this can be limiting, especially if she wants to go any further west than Westroads Mall.

“While everybody feels like it's super reliable and super-inclusive and all those really nice good things, there’s a lot of places I can’t go," Davis said.

The system operates within city limits, making places in Papillion, La Vista, Bellevue and more out of reach.

MOBY also follows the hours of the fixed bus routes. Something that Finn says can make him either leave early or have to search for another accessible way home.

“The number five bus on 90th Street stops at about 6:30 p.m.," Finn said. "So I can’t go anywhere or get back later than 6:30 p.m., so it kind of hinders me on things that I can do or want to do.”

These are some areas of improvement Metro Transit is looking at with their MetroNEXT plan.

“We’re actually trying to do a really deep dive into what gaps there might be in service, how we can provide better service, whether that’s with bus routes or MOBY," said Jason Rose, Metro Transit's communication director.

To its users, MOBY has room for improvements.

But they also say the city needs to be looking at its sidewalk accessibility.

“If we don’t pay attention to that, the busing is secondary," Davis said.

“Even if we have a stellar bus route to an area of town or really good MOBY service to a specific area, if we have a sidewalk that isn’t as accessible, then that presents a barrier for folks," Rose said.

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