Papillion Mayor David Black said he expects that the Papillion City Council will, at its Sept. 3 meeting, have an amendment to bring back Sarpy County’s Tri-Communities Express bus route in some form.
Papillion’s 2013-14 budget proposed cutting the route after finding that it had low ridership. The city’s 2012-13 budget allotted $7,000 for the route. La Vista contributed $8,600 with the rest of the $20,000 cost being covered by Ralston and Metro transit.
At La Vista’s city council meeting, the council discussed the possibility of meeting with officials from Metro transit, Papillion and Ralston to discuss options for the route before the final vote.
Mitch Beaumont, La Vista community relations coordinator, said a meeting between the three cities and Metro was scheduled for Aug. 28.
At Papillion’s council meeting Aug. 20, several members of the community spoke in opposition to cutting Route 93. They cited many reasons to keep funding the route. One of the main reasons mentioned was the cost of owning and maintaining a vehicle.
Papillion residents Robert Dworkin and Tom Lamczyk were among those in opposition to the proposed cut. Dworkin and Lamczyk both ride the bus daily from Papillion to their jobs in downtown Omaha.
“It’s a small price to pay to continue to sustain our link with surrounding communities and Omaha,” Dworkin said.
Multiple residents told the council of a study showing that for every dollar the city puts toward mass transit, the city gets $4 back in economic growth.
They also brought up Papillion’s recent ranking in CNN/Money Magazine as one of America’s Best Places to Live. They said the city should be defending the ranking and not cutting things that contribute to the city’s consistent rankings.
“It just makes total sense to promote mass transit,” Dworkin said.
Three people at the La Vista City Council meeting also spoke in opposition to the route’s demise.
They stated the bus route was the main form of transportation for many citizens and, without it, they would be unable to get to work, school and other places. They suggested working to increase ridership or streamlining the route.
Black said the city still values public transportation but questions what is an appropriate cost. Papillion invests in a separate system to transport the elderly and disabled.
“I’m not opposed to it at all,” Black said. “I have a hard time justifying $7,000 with it underutilized. I don’t question the value of public transportation. It’s just at what cost.”