There’s a new way for people with specialized transit needs to get around town using Metro Transit’s service in a manner which benefits both customers and the environment.

Metro has added four hybrid sedans to its fleet of vehicles for MOBY’s ADA complementary paratransit fleet.

The Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) awarded Metro Transit $52,000 for the “Enhanced Paratransit (MOBY) Service Using Hybrid Sedans” project.  The NET grant, announced April 4, 2013, was one of 134 projects receiving $24,247,260 in grant awards. Of these, 87 were new applicants and 47 were carry-over projects.

Metro’s NET award served as the local match to a Federal Transit Administration 5307 Urbanized Capital formula grant in the competitive procurement of the four hybrid sedans.

MOBY’s fleet includes 26 cutaway paratransit vans that can accommodate up to 12-14 passengers, including multiple wheelchairs and other assistive mobility devices. However, an ever-increasing demand for MOBY’s ADA complementary paratransit service had Metro organizing and paying for cab rides to handle the excess need.

The review of alternatives to meet the increasing need found research showing the use of smaller vehicles improves the quality of paratransit service as many ambulatory disabled passengers prefer the ease and comfort of transportation in cars.

To test these findings, Metro implemented a pilot program using a pool car to ease the increased demand for MOBY service. The program proved to be an effective, appreciated and requested asset.

This project is a part of Metro’s ongoing commitment to protecting the environment by utilizing hybrid technology. The introduction of these hybrid sedans is anticipated to allow Metro to use an estimated 20,000 fewer gallons of gasoline per year, create 200 fewer tons of greenhouse gases annually and release nearly 90 fewer pounds of pollution per year.

Metro’s goals through this innovative project are to incorporate the benefits of hybrid technology into our current MOBY fleet, increase efficiencies and provide environmentally friendly paratransit service while working with local partners to promote air quality in the Omaha area, which is close to reaching federal air quality non-attainment status.

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The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided more than $213 million in grants to over 1,600 projects across the state. Anyone can apply for funding to protect habitats, improve water quality or establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The Nebraska Environmental Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.