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Growing Omaha populace threatens ’20-minute city’ reputation

December 23, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha commuters should prepare to say goodbye to the “20-minute city” as the metropolitan area’s population continues to grow. Omaha promoters have long treasured that title as a measure of a community with limited traffic troubles.

The Census Bureau’s latest estimate shows Douglas County’s average travel time to work has risen to 19.3 minutes, the Omaha World-Herald reported . That’s an increase from 18.6 minutes in the time span from 2008 to 2012.

Census estimates show Douglas and Sarpy Counties have 59,000 more commuters who take a car to work compared with 10 years ago.

For now, bus use in Omaha varies largely with the price of gas, said Curt Simon, executive director of Metro transit. Metro’s ridership, he said, has decreased over the past few years.

“I do see a shift in thinking,” Simon said. “What it takes to get a single occupant out of their car, I don’t know.”

Only about 1 percent of commuters in Douglas and Sarpy Counties use public transit, but Simon said he senses growing interest in the community in making broader transportation improvements.

Omaha’s Rapid Bus Transit line promises to run a rapid transit system on sleek buses between Westroads Mall and downtown Omaha. It is set to debut in 2020.

The Metropolitan Area Planning Agency and Nebraska Department of Transportation are also working on a major development strategy to shape the city’s transportation system for the next 20 to 30 years. The plan would consider major enhancements to the city’s interstates, but also places major emphasis on public transit projects.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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