Moving to Omaha from Denver has given me the chance to see where Omaha can capitalize on planning/implementing a Lightrail system throughout Omaha and the surrounding areas. Denver was and in some cases still is, dealing with issues Omaha has at this time, but Denver has been able to capitalize on a changing mass transit system.
Denver has been working on building a robust lightrail system for the last 10 years and they are now on the verge of making major gains on Mass Transit with their light rail lines that grow out from the basic lines they laid many years ago and encompass Western parts of Denver suburbs and Boulder. Denver has also undergone growth along the light rail as businesses and residents move closer to the lines to take advantage of what lightrail brings to the area.
Omaha being a much smaller city can take lessons learned from Denver (Both regarding Traffic flow now and in the future, and implementing a solid mass transit system that helps move people from point A to point B, while growing stagnant areas of the city). There will be skeptics and people who feel that it will be a boondoggle, but the reality of the issue is this, you cannot put your head in the sand and hope the issue goes away, and building more roads or adding bus routes will not fix this issue.
In Omaha, lightrail will have to start off small, have fewer passenger trains, and quite possible charge more than other city’s with similar offers, but the advantages outweighs the disadvantages. With lightrail you have a dedicated track that can either be at ground level or elevated, it runs regardless of weather, it can grow by adding more trains or lines, development of park and rides/stations help facilitate growth, it’s greener then other options, and it can be a quicker ride then other forms of mass transit (Buses, car-pooling, etc.).