Omaha at Human Scale: Working Parent and Transit

2 Jan

This will be the final edition of this run of Omaha at Human Scale. We look forward to 2019 being a year of activity and activism for Mode Shift Omaha.

Nicole Wheeler is Vice Chair of the Mode Shift Board of Directors.

As a working parent, I am always running from work to school to someone’s evening activity. I spend my days working in advertising at Hudl and my husband, Ted, and I operate a roving bookstore, Dundee Book Company, in our free time. When I moved from my job at Yahoo in West Omaha to the downtown Hudl office, one of the many perks in making the job change was that I would finally be able to take the bus to work. I have  been interested in the effects of climate change since I was a child and the fact that I couldn’t take the biggest step of limiting my driving had always bothered me. Being able to make this change was something that allowed me to live true to my personal values and show my children how to do so as well.

Ted at the Bus Stop

Ted is a writer and works from home and is able to walk our kids to school each day. The number 2 bus is in close proximity to our home. The times when Ted is out of town for extended periods of time really puts our bus riding to the test. If the children are at different locations, pick up and drop off become a long planned journey with several stops. These trips serve as a great teaching moment, when I can show my kids that they can navigate the city via bus and teach them how to do so on their own. We also run errands together on the bus, which is a great lesson in only buying things you need and things that you really want to carry home.

Our days typically start with Ted walking the kids to school, while I take the bus downtown. We leave around the same time, walk a few blocks together and part ways where I head for the bus and everyone else heads for the school. The kids usually stay for clubs or after-school care, as our jobs go until 5 or 6 pm. If I need to pick them up, I take the bus one stop further than normal and can be at the school in a few minutes walk time. From there, we can walk home via the Dodge St. subway/underpass, lugging backpacks and musical instruments the few blocks it takes to get there. Having to carry all of that home really highlights how much stuff kids are carrying around all day long. The walk home is a great time to decompress and have a conversation about everyone’s days.

Waiting patiently for the bus

For other parents who would like to try and take the bus, I would suggest first, waiting until the time is right in your life. If it doesn’t work for you with small babies, then give yourself a break and wait until it does. Secondly, see if you can switch your mode once or twice a week. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing and taking the bus even a few times a week can alleviate an enormous amount of commuting-driven stress. I’ve met very few parents who wouldn’t love 30 minutes to themselves and the bus is a great chance to get that.

Back on the Bus!

I’m happiest getting around Omaha by bus and I would rather move to a city with more public transit than have to rely on a car again, but none of this would work for me without a spouse who works close to our children’s school; a flexible, supportive employer; a good supply of quality base layer clothing and a lot of sunscreen. I’m privileged to have all those things and I’ve met many wonderful people on the bus who don’t have any other choice but to rely on the bus – with or without that same support. Our system works for me, but as we continue to mature it, I hope that it can work for everyone.

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