By Phil Brown
The difficulties of parking on or near the University of Nebraska-Omaha campus have been written about ad nauseum in this paper. Students don’t need to be told about the difficulties of congestion and lack of parking availability, not only do the experience the issues every day, but they can always look at back issues of this section if they need a reminder.
It’s rare that we can report an improvement in UNO’s parking and transportation situation. Everything that has happened in the realm of transportation in recent weeks and months, and even years seems to have been negative. UNO seems stuck in reverse when it comes to transportation.
Parking space after parking space has been developed on, rearranged, or simply blocked, and even entire lots have been shuttered as UNO stubbornly continues its downward transportation spiral.
It’s with little surprise then that even the smallest incremental change in the right direction when it comes to UNO transportation is something worth reporting on, and even celebrating a little bit.
Beginning last Saturday, Jan. 2, UNO expanded the MavRide program. The MavRide program, which has been around in some form for about five years now, was started as an initiative founded and funded by the Student Government. Now, Parking Services is joining in on the fun.
Student Government and Park-ing Services are joining forces to expand MavRide beyond the free bus passes handed out in limited numbers every semester. Now, students can simply use their MavCards as bus passes, and no activation is needed. Service, which was formerly reserved for weekdays and Saturdays during school semesters, is now unlimited, meaning each and every UNO student, staff, or faculty member can get a bus ride at any time, without special activation, and in between semesters when the school is closed.
It may just be an extension of a program already in place. But this extension brings the total potential user base of MavRide to more than 15,000 students and 3,000 faculty, which is not a trifling number.
It’s also a step in the right direction. If UNO is truly to become a parking-free, modern metropolitan
campus, it needs to ensure transit options are available for students. By ensuring every student and faculty member on campus now has access to transit without any extra steps, they’ve invested in this idea.
Now, of course, it only remains for the transit system itself to be hauled out of the dark ages. This seems inevitable, as Metro and city planners seem to genuinely want to progress, and have proposed and funded major augmentations to the system. Particularly enticing is the Bus Rapid Transit system proposed by Metro, which will be partially funded by the federal government.
While the BRT won’t come until 2020, MavRide expansion is a step forward along the path to a modern, and even functional, campus transportation system.