Metro looks to the future with move to a Regional Metropolitan Transit Authority
June 23, 2022
Metro’s Board of Directors voted at its June meeting to convert the Transit Authority of the City of Omaha to a Regional Metropolitan Transit Authority.
“Omaha is growing. Omaha is interconnected. We need to look at supporting ourselves as a region. This is a step to start to think that way and start to prepare ourselves for future growth,” – Lauren Cencic, Metro CEO.
what does this mean?
The Transit Authority of the City of Omaha will convert to the Regional Metropolitan Transit Authority of Omaha. This conversion is possible due to Nebraska’s LB492 – Adopt the Regional Metropolitan Transit Authority Act – passed in the 2019 legislative session.
This move opens the door for Metro to take its public transportation services beyond Omaha’s city limits.
Eventually, nearby cities and towns can join the Regional Metropolitan Transit Authority of Omaha if they choose. The Board’s vote does not immediately change Metro’s service area.
WHEN DOES THIS HAPPEN?
The official conversion will take effect on August 1, 2022. From then on, Metro’s official legal name will be the Regional Metropolitan Transit Authority of Omaha, but you can keep calling us Metro!
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT SERVICE?
Metro will now have more flexibility in accessing funding if it’s needed. This is key to implementing the exciting projects planned in MetroNEXT:
- Permanent funding for the K-12 Rides Free program
- Adding 50 new bus shelters with real-time arrival displays
- Expanding evening and weekend service
- 24th Street transit corridor enhancements
- Expansion of service to Eppley Airfield
And plenty more!
Metro’s service area will not immediately change.
WILL IT COST MORE TO TAKE THE BUS?
Metro does not have any plans to increase fares – Metro has not raised fares since 2011 when the cost of a transfer was raised from $0.05 to $0.25
DOES THIS RAISE TAXES?
The move to a Regional Metropolitan Transit Authority does not automatically change any of Metro’s budget. It does allow the board to decide in future votes whether to add to Omaha’s property tax levy. By state law, Metro’s Board of Directors can only raise the levy by a maximum of 10 cents per $100 of valuation per year. Omaha citizens will be able to have a say in any of those decisions.
WHAT ELSE DOES THIS MEAN?
Metro’s Board of Directors will transition to an elected board. Eventually, Douglas County will be separated into seven different districts of similar population size. People will be able to vote for their representatives. The current board members will serve as Metro’s temporary Board until the first election in 2024. If a seat becomes vacant, the Omaha mayor will appoint a new board member.
“Having an elected Board of Directors is a very exciting step for us. We have heard a lot of feedback on our MetroNEXT program, which includes a call for a better response from elected officials. The shift to a Regional Transit Authority will allow those we serve to have an even greater say in how our transportation system can meet their future needs.” – Amy Haase, Chair, Metro Board of Directors