Tag | omaha
Gina was busy on Saturday morning and Leah requested that we do something “fun”. It was cold outside, and we have a six-month old foster son, so the zoo was out. Leah also suggested (OK, begged) for the Children’s Museum, which would have been fine but it cost money and, frankly, I’m cheap. But I knew that our local art museum was free on Saturday mornings (10am-noon) but I thought, “What do they have for a six-year old at an art museum?” So I did some research.
We kinda walked around the special exhibits and saw some interesting things. But Leah wanted to make her own. Leah sat at the Can Do Art display, where they have paper, crayons, colored pencils, etc. Even a few games! If you know Leah very well, you know that she loves that kind of stuff. A grandfather was there with two grandkids and he started making paper airplanes. That meant we made some too.
After that, we went to the Cafe and had a little snack. Then Leah asked for something that I casually mentioned to her. I read it off the website but really didn’t know what it was. So we went and got an Art Pack and got going.
We did the “Go West!” pack. The best way to describe it is a scavenger hunt or a geocache in the museum. They gave us a backpack and it had a journal with directions, and a compass. The journal told us where to start and then gave us directions of “Walk 6 paces North then turn East . . .” until we eventually got to a painting. We read about the painting, and then reached in the backpack and got an activity out there to do (make a journal, play a bingo game, etc.) And we had a blast with it! And, while we didn’t see a lot of different art on this activity, we actually learned a lot about the pieces that we saw — and isn’t that the point.
Leah is excited to do it again and I am as well. We need to take Gina next time. And how did our foster son do? I had to feed him during our stop at the Can do Art display, and then he slept until waaay after we left.
Better late than never . . .
I was fortunate enough to go to Omaha’s Young Professionals Summit on March 5. I was excited about this because I’m a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell. I had high expectations for his keynote and he exceeded them. His talk was inspiritional and informative on how to make Omaha a more creative and dynamic city. To summarize his talk takes two words: “Community Matters.”
They also announce the YP Bus Challenge. Since I ride the bus downtown to work anyway, this is a no-brainer. Another person I ride the bus with was also at the Summit, so we quickly formed our team. Go Team 94!!
I also enjoyed some of the breakout sessions and met a few new people I hope to see again soon.
The crew at Silicon Prairie News posted up the great video they showed at the Summit, but, alas, it’s no longer there. Bummer.
EDIT: The video is back! Or never went away. Thanks Silicon Prairie News!
A fellow employee and bus rider organize a townhall-type meeting with the head of Omaha’s bus system MAT and fellow employees as well as other bus riders. It was sorta a gripe session, but the President of MAT (Curt Simon) as well as the Director of Operations were both there. They fielded our questions and complaints and were honest about what was happening. It’s been a while but I have blogged about my frustrations with the bus service before. This was a good time to find out more.
This is my attempt of a summary of the meeting. Note that it’s an attempt — more was said that I probably didn’t get down.
- MAT is a state entity. It gets no money from the City. But the Mayor of Omaha appoints the people on the MAT Board.
- The Federal Govt will help pay for a new bus once it reaches 500k miles or is 12 years old. MAT’s average bus is 8.5 years old and has 417k miles on it. If a bus is refabricated , then it’s date gets set to when that the refabrication was completed.
- MAT’s newest bus is from 2001, but that doesn’t include the refabricated buses since then.
- Simon says that new buses are their #1 priority and they will get some probably in Q3 or Q4 of this year. The goal is 63 new buses in the next five years. They hope that Obama’s stimulus package will help them out with that. Most of these will be on the Express routes because they want to get as much mileage on them as possible before their warranty ends.
- MAT got the 19 buses from Orlando for free — Orlando just signed the titles over to them. MAT did this because they knew their fleet was aging and they didn’t have money to get new buses. They got these to “put their finger in the dike” (Simon’s phase). The idea was that they would have more buses to turn in and out. But the Orlando buses haven’t worked out like they had hoped and are on the end of their lives. Now most of the Orlando buses are being refabricated and will be back out on the street soon.
- MAT did not buy new buses and then turn around and sell them and then buy used ones, as a rumor states. Simon said that explicitly.
- After some complaints this winter about buses being late or not showing up, they stepped up bus inspection. At 3:15, dispatchers go to the garage to make sure they have buses for all the Express routes, which has worked in ending the “there was no bus in the garage” excuse.
- Circular buses generally have transmission problems so they are on the circular route until their rebuilt transmission comes in.
- There is no reason why a bus driver doesn’t know the route. All of them have been through classes and should know the route before they leave the barn. Simon said there is no excuse for that.
Did you know that today was Dump the Pump Day? No, I didn’t either until about 3pm. But a day about raising awareness about Public Transportation couldn’t be more timely than now. Wired has a great little write-up about it.
Of course, I didn’t know about it because Omaha’s public transportation didn’t participate. It would have been a good opportunity to raise awareness about the bus system in Omaha and, at least, have given free express rides to the commuters to and from downtown so they can try it out and see what it is like.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again — too bad Omaha’s city government has no vision for public transportation.