Bus scavenger hunt

Photo Courtesy of Omaha Metro

Charlotte Reilly

Students at the University of Nebraska have more incentive than ever before to go green and take
advantage of Omaha’s Metro system with the implementation of the bus scavenger hunt

UNO juniors Isabella Lombardo and Michaela Johnson are running the bus scavenger hunt program, which provides incentives for students to use public transportation and put their social media skills to work. To participate in the scavenger hunt, students have to take a selfie on a Metro bus and upload it to UNO’s sustainability page on Facebook.

Students who submit a selfie are entered into a monthly raffle for the chance to win prizes, such as bike lights, according to Sarah Burke, University of Nebraska at Omaha’s sustainability

On April 21, students will have a chance to win a Fitbit, which is the grand prize of the scavenger hunt.

Several restaurants along the No. 2 bus route are offering discounts to students who show their selfie taken on the bus. Students can receive an additional entry into the raffle by taking another selfie at participating restaurants.

Students can take selfies with statues along the route for more entries. A list of statues and participating restaurants is available on the UNO sustainability page.

The idea for the bus scavenger hunt was created because Johnson and Lombardo wanted to introduce the bus system to students in an engaging way.

“It gives people a destination to go,” Lombardo said. “People realize not only can you take the bus, but you can actually go places and not have to use your car.”

Lombardo introduced Johnson to riding the bus. Johnson was worried about making the bus stop and signaling the bus. Lombardo rode with her the first time so Johnson wouldn’t be nervous.

“It’s a lot simpler and easier than I thought it would be,” Johnson said. “My car broke down last
week. I just used the bus, and it was not a big deal.”

To stop the bus, you either have to pull a yellow cord or press a button. The bus only stops when signaled to.

There are several online tools students, faculty and staff can use to make bus trips easier. The metro website helps you plan a trip. The website lists which buses to use and how to transfer between them. Google maps lists how long it takes to walk to the bus, when the next bus is supposed to arrive and how long it will take to get to the destination.

Burke said there is a stigma that only poor or homeless people ride the bus. However, many students and faculty members ride the bus to campus.

“It’s the logical way to travel,” Johnson said. “The more people that ride the bus, the more support there will be monetarily for public infrastructure, which is a key part to having a vibrant, big city.”

Students should ride the bus because it’s free and it eliminates air pollution, Burke said

“It’s like a mass carpool,” Lombardo said. “The bus is going to run whether you go on it or not. If you go on that bus and not in a car, that’s less CO2 emissions.”

In the fall of 2018, Omaha plans to open a new bus line, the Bus Rapid Transit or BRT. The bus stops will have a countdown telling riders how long they have to wait for the next bus. The buses will even have the capability of signaling to lights to get through traffic quicker.

Johnson and Lombardo said they hope their project will encourage UNO students and faculty to use the new bus line, especially because of the advantages public transportation offers compared to driving.

“When you ride the bus, you get a bunch of extra pieces of your life back,” Johnson said. “You can study for your test on the way there. There’s a different sense of the city because you can pay
attention to what’s around you.”