It’s been quite awhile since our last BRT blog series, but that blog inactivity is by no means a representation of dormancy on the project. It’s been moving steadily forward. Time for an update.
Lauren Cencic attended our February 19th Coffee Chat to update attendees on the project and answer questions. We took copious notes and posted them here. So rather than repeating the great update Lauren provided, we want to provide you with our high-level highlights and perspectives on the project to date with an emphasis on the Stakeholder Committee.
ModeShift has two board members on the BRT Stakeholders Committee: Craig Moody, who chairs the Committee, and Jay Leighter. The Stakeholder Committee’s purpose is threefold:
- To work with Metro to differentiate which aspects of BRT design, communication, and implementation will benefit from stakeholder and constituency input and, then, foster conversations to collect information, report, and recommend improvements for those aspects.
- To share information with our constituencies and bring perspectives of our constituencies to Metro’s decision-making processes.
- To keep Metro abreast of other projects/efforts that may impact the BRT.
The Committee is doing a good job of covering all three purposes with our primary emphasis on the first one. Stakeholder meetings have been very well attended, and the conversations are open and productive. Each member is also assigned to at least one of the three working groups that include 1) Infrastructure, 2) Policy & Operations, and 3) Branding & Public Engagement. These three working groups meet separately every month. Jay is on the Branding & Public Engagement working group, and Craig attends the other two.
Working Group meetings allow stakeholders to really dig into the meat of many issues and decisions. The 90th and 72nd intersections have been discussed at length. They are extraordinarily challenging intersections to deal with – tough decisions and trade-offs will need to be made.
Station design has also been discussed extensively. A 30% complete design was wrapped up a few months ago and should be introduced to the public soon for feedback. Ticketing and fare collection have also garnered a great deal of attention.
The public’s input will be important going forward, and we are confident that the Stakeholder Committee, Metro, and the final design firm will design and execute a robust public engagement process that is better than what we’re used to in Omaha. ModeShift places a high priority on this aspect of the project and will advocate for innovative, effective efforts.
Going forward, we are anxious for two things to occur in the near term:
- Metro’s public engagement process to be refined and executed. Hiring a Community Outreach Coordinator will be a major step forward. There are still several features of the branding, station design, and bus configuration that will be finalized with the assistance of citizen input.
- The firm responsible for the final design to be hired. They will lead Metro through the process of making several very important decisions, including the treatment of 90th and 72nd intersections, final station design and locations, bus features and design, and ticketing/fare collection.
ModeShift is dedicated to doing everything possible to make this a good BRT system. There are undoubtedly restraints and limitations that are unavoidable, but we’re still confident that the final product will be the catalyst for completely modernizing Omaha’s transit and transportation system.