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Thread: Mass Transit Update! - Important

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    metro is offline VIP Member
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    Default Mass Transit Update! - Important

    DOWNTOWN RESIDENTS PRESENT MASS TRANSIT PROPOSAL TO CITY COUNCIL

    Oklahoma City, OK – Urban Neighbors (U.N.), downtown’s residents association, presented a comprehensive 3-page report to the OKC City Council this morning requesting that the underutilized downtown trolley system (A MAPS I project) be reviewed and updated to meet modern demands. Presenting copies of the 3-page report to City Council were U.N. Board Members Mark Gibbs and Brian Hammond.

    “We are very optimistic that Mayor Cornett and the City Council will recognize the need for a massive revamp of our mass transit system in this city, and be receptive to overhauling the system so that it might meet the needs of downtown residents, workers and visitors. We anticipate Mayor Cornett and the City Council will come up with a comprehensive plan and solution over the next few months and create a line in next year’s operating budget for a more functional trolley system. The downtown transit system must also make sense for the future as well by being environmentally friendly,” said Urban Neighbors Board Member Jeff Bezdek. The most challenging aspect of the current system is that it does not efficiently serve the needs of the growing and diversified downtown community. “As an organization we are dedicated to bringing vital issues concerning downtown to the city. Urban Neighbors is proud to be a vital link between the City of OKC and downtown residents” Bezdek further commented.

    “Our hope is that this will be an important first step with the city in creating a modern mass transit system to meet downtown needs” Bezdek added. On August 19th, Mayor Cornett and City Council is expected to attend a workshop with Metro Transit at the OKC Zoo’s conference facilities. At the downtown transit workshop the city leaders are expected to learn about the current downtown trolley system, how it operates, its’ problems as well as come to their own conclusions on how they might be able to tackle the issues. The workshop will be open to the public; however citizens will not be allowed to comment at the workshop. The public is encouraged to attend and show their support for a modern mass transit system for Oklahoma City.

    On a related note, just before the U.N. Transportation Subcommittee presented the comprehensive downtown transit report to the Mayor and City Council, a Citizen Survey Report was submitted to the City Council. The Citizen Survey Report addresses issues such as perception of the city, quality of life, traffic, code enforcement and other issues. Interestingly enough, once again mass transportation was a high priority from citizens.

    “The time is now for our great city to truly take a transformation in becoming a Big League City. The next logical step as a city is an efficient mass-transit system. Research over the last several years shows several health benefits in relation to mass transit systems. People have a tendency to walk more if they have access to an efficient mass transit system” said U.N. Board Member Steven Newlon.

    People also have a propensity to visit local attractions more by foot and to bike to transit centers as well. This is perfect time to encourage the fitness benefits to mass transit while Mayor Cornett and the City are promoting the “This City is Going on a Diet” campaign, Newlon added.

    Some of the highlights of the U.N.’s official report to the City of OKC include the following:

    • Downtown’s area and use has changed dramatically over last decade
    • The existing trolley system is poorly understood by public
    • Low ridership on key routes
    • Timings and actual arrivals at trolley stops are inconsistent
    • Stops are poorly identified
    • Stops feature limited information (route maps, schedule times, and actual arrivals)
    • Hours of service are limited and poorly advertised
    • Onboard stop information is inconsistent or not available
    • Existing system is not configured for 2008 or future ridership demographics.


    The U.N. Transportation Subcommittee recommends that a detailed analysis be conducted of potential new routes. Public and private input must be solicited from business, residential, development, entertainment, and tourism stakeholders. The input gathered should identify routes that service these various demographics, in order to maintain good ridership levels during all operational hours. Certain specific demographics may entice more direct routes, but stability and consistent ridership will help maintain the health of the system. Also, a diverse and eclectic ridership would justify a broadened daily operational period.

    A comprehensive public information and marketing campaign must be implemented to increase awareness and ridership of the reprogrammed system. Such marketing will reinforce the accessibility and utility of the system to all potential user demographics. In addition, the ridership experience will be improved with vehicle operators that are trained in enhanced customer service. The personal interface between "trolley" operators and riders should follow the "Downtown Ambassador" model. Vehicle operators must be helpful in assisting customers with diverse knowledge of downtown, vehicle stops, points of interest and available amenities. They should also assist residents who have special needs including the proper stowage of physical items.

    Data was collected by Urban Neighbors from downtown residents, workers and visitors over the course of several months. The Urban Neighbors Transportation Subcommittee noted in its initial surveys and interaction with potential users that increased fares to cover enhanced services would be acceptable. The subcommittee emphasizes that the existing "trolley like" bus vehicles have a limited life expectancy and encourages the benefits and experience of a reprogrammed system to be migrated over to permanent future solutions. There is a great desire for a modern transportation solution that can permanently service the downtown and central city where density levels are increasing significantly. The success of improvements to the existing system will assist in the future development of transportation in all areas of the Oklahoma City Metroplex.


    Website: Home | Urban Neighbors

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    There has been strong public interest throughout OKC recently about the City's public transportation system. Metro Transit is organizing an informational workshop for the City Council starting at 8:30 am at the OKC Zoo Educational Center on Tuesday, August 19. The public will not be allowed to speak but a strong showing by the public will show our support for improving the Downtown trolley system.

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    plmccordj is offline Member
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    Default Re: Mass Transit Update! - Important

    What? Still no proposals to serve the rest of the city? What a joke! Lawton has better bus coverage than OKC does. I would venture to say that Oklahoma City has the worst bus system of any medium to large city in the United States. You cannot even ride the bus to Tinker, where more than 20,000 people are employed.

    You can call it Metro Transit, Mass Trans, or what ever they use to be called and they have never been worth riding. They deliberately put together half hearted routes that are not dependable so no one will ride them and then use the low ridership as an excuse not to invest in a real bus system. What good is the trolley downtown if you cannot go anywhere on them?

    Every major artery in the metro should have regular bus routes that require no longer than one hour wait up until at least 10:00 PM. If they were to seriously do this consistently, I guarantee you there would be lots of people riding the bus. Not just poor people. I have lived in several cities that all income levels rode the bus but then again they had a real bus system that could be depended upon. Looks like we have the same old non committal half baked bus system plans for the future.

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    soonerguru is offline Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Mass Transit Update! - Important

    This looks great! As a publishing type, however, I can see a few edits. Still, this is an impressive report.

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    soonerguru is offline Platinum Member
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    They deliberately put together half hearted routes that are not dependable so no one will ride them and then use the low ridership as an excuse not to invest in a real bus system.
    Spot on. The leadership of this city for the last 40 years has been hostile to transit. For some reason, the concept of it is threatening to them and other Oklahomans. Maybe it's just a little too urban.

    WE have a window NOW to do something about mass transit in OKC. If we don't do it now, it will never happen.

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    metro is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Mass Transit Update! - Important

    plmcord, keep in mind this is a statement coming from DOWNTOWN RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION. You make true statements about the whole city needing coverage, but this a association representing needs of people who live downtown. I encourage you to organize something on a much larger scale that encompasses the entire city as well as to attend the city council's transit workshop at the zoo on Aug. 19th. Not to mention as soonerguru pointed out, we have a window now to do something. The city isn't going to build a multi-billion dollar system from scratch. To get it to work in this city, it will have to be a downtown circular that will easily get supported, and then build it out from there. Given how our city has operated for decades, this is probably the only realistic way to get a modern system in place.

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    soonerguru is offline Platinum Member
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    metro,

    That's a great point, but the city may be overlooking how interested in transit the citizens are. If the city leaders put it in MAPS III, we will get it. The citizens will vote for MAPS III.

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    soonerguru is offline Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Mass Transit Update! - Important

    Also, people may be more inclined to support it if they felt it was somewhat substantive. A circular route downtown may appear limited to tourist uses, which may or may not address citizen needs / desires. Were that the case, some people may vote against it.

    Hopefully, OKC won't be too timid about going after the transit solutions. The more encompassing it is, the better the city will be in the long run, both in having quality transportation, but also in greater density and a stimulus for greater urban development. This will also lead to more federal investment for the city over time.

    Transit is about the most intelligent investment the city could possibly make.

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    metro is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Mass Transit Update! - Important

    I completely understand that. I'm one of the ones working behind the scenes on this effort. It'd be nice to have more citizens put their money where their mouth is. Show up at COPTA meetings, City Council meetings, etc. Sadly, it's been almost all talk by citizens. PLEASEEEEEEEEEE attend the City Council's transit workshop on the 19th if any of you can. Again, citizens won't get to talk, but our presence will speak volumes to the City Council that the public does care about mass transit and to getting them to put a line item in next years budget for mass transit. It is a very real possibility. This first phase wouldn't require a public vote, the city is already realizing their is a problem for tourists/downtown residents/workers. That's over 60,000 people alone. This would definitely be successful if implemented properly, THEN the public and city would see how successful a modern system could be and then a broader system can go to a public vote for MAPS 3.

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    soonerguru is offline Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Mass Transit Update! - Important

    Just so I understand, the line item is to improve the embarrassing trolley system, right?

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    Hopefully. Make it more reliable and user friendly basically. They threw $500,000 of city money for the river boats to nowhere, think of what that or more could do for the trolleys. Possibly adjust the routes, add more trolleys, make them more reliable, advertise them, etc. If the city could throw $2 million at their budget next year, that'd do wonders if executed properly. That's part of the reason the city council is having a workshop with COPTA, to find out what is broken with the system and come up with a realistic way of fixing it. MAPS 3 will come in time, but mass transit is a chicken and egg dilemma with this city. Got to have something in place that works before we'll get a full blown system.

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    soonerguru is offline Platinum Member
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    I can't believe they funded a penny of the river boat. What a joke.

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    Good work on this metro and company. I look forward to seeing the city council act on this. They would be incredibly foolish not to.

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    Bravo! However, I agree with the rest of the city idea as well. Today, I drove down Western and was appalled at the bus stop situation that exists for riders. I'm going to be out of town on the 19th, unfortunately,as I'd love to attend that meeting.

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    plmccordj is offline Member
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    Do you have an address for that meeting?

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    It's at the Zoo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by plmccordj View Post
    Do you have an address for that meeting?
    8:30 am at the OKC Zoo Educational Center on Tuesday, August 19. I imagine you could Google the OKC Zoo's address.

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    BG918 is offline VIP Member
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    Making the downtown trolley better is a good short-term solution and will be useful for residents and visitors alike. We need to be discussing long-term mass-transit solutions at the same time so we can start the planning (not studies but actual planning such as costs, a time schedule, stop locations, etc.). I still think connecting the OUHSC to downtown and the blvd. via Auto Alley is the best way to begin when it comes to fixed rail in the central city. However commuter rail to Norman/Edmond should be the first rail endeavor IMO.

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    Residents association blasts downtown transit

    Urban Neighbors, downtown Oklahoma City's residents association, presented a three-page report to the Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday requesting changes to the Oklahoma Spirit trolley system to meet "modern demands.”
    The report by Urban Neighbors board members Mark Gibbs and Brian Hammond called the system inadequate and in need of overhaul.

    Some of the highlights of the group's official report to the city:

    •Downtown's use has changed dramatically over past decade.

    •The existing trolley system is poorly understood by public.

    •Low ridership on key routes.

    •Timings and actual arrivals at trolley stops are inconsistent.

    •Stops are poorly identified.

    •Hours of service are limited and poorly advertised.

    •Existing system is not configured for future ridership demographics.


    City Council appoints Bricktown consultant
    The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved spending up to $75,000 to hire consultant Robert Charles Lester & Co. to draw up a master development plan for Bricktown.
    The contract calls for the firm to come up with suggested land uses, leasing and marketing strategies, and to identify obstacles to development.

    On the town: Wednesday August 13, 2008 | NewsOK.com

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    OKCTalker is offline Gold Member
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    San Francisco trolley cars are thought of as tourist-only transports. But the straphangers < 9:00 a.m. and > 4:00 p.m. are a lot of locals commuting to/from work. As it would be here for the U.N. gang.

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    If anyone is interested KSBI 52 will be having a segment on their 5:30pm and 6:30pm news as will OETA 13 have a nice piece on this at 6:30pm. Let's keep the dialogue in front of the city on mass transit. The more dialogue, the more chance for a real change for mass transit in this city.

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    I like the Bricktown master plan idea. Maybe we can start getting rid of the surface parking.

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    Now You've Done It... You Just Had to Egg Me On

    Now You’ve Done It… You Just Had to Egg Me On



    Former MetroTransit director Randy Hume, back when trolleys were shinny and new, and could be counted on to hit pretty much every corner of downtown every 10 minutes (and five minutes during the lunch hour). Sure, the map wasn’t easy to follow, but compare it to what’s out there today (if you can find it on COTPA’s web site).



    Steve Newlon, a board member with Urban Neighbors, suggested we go a bit more in-depth on the blog with the group’s report on public transit. I couldn’t agree more. So let’s take a look at their actual report:


    TASK- The UN Transportation Subcommittee has reviewed the Public Transportation options in the Downtown area. This review of current transportation ability was stimulated by concerns regarding the success and programming of the existing system.

    ASSESMENT- Urban Neighbors has solicited input from its membership of downtown residents and workers as well as tourists and the general public. We have engaged in a fruitful dialogue with Metro Transit and we have reviewed available information and opinions to analyze the current situation.

    FINDINGS- The subcommittee realizes that the current available transit service is faced with many challenges. The downtown areas use has changed dramatically over the past decade with new potential transit users and trip needs. The existing transit system is-

    1. Poorly understood by the General Public (my comment: Urban Neighbors is being kind. How much time and money has been invested into educating the public about the Oklahoma Spirit trolleys compared to what has been spent on the new river cruisers?)

    2. Faces low ridership on key routes (ah, but why? When the trolleys started, they had much better ridership. Numbers dropped as MetroTransit lengthened wait times, trimmed service and lengthened routes? Coincidence?)

    3. Timings and actual arrivals at stops are inconsistent (Um, yeah)

    4. Stops are poorly identified (Um, yeah)

    5. Stops feature limited information (Route maps, schedule times and

    actual arrivals) (Um, yeah)


    6. Hours of service are limited and poorly advertised (um, yeah)

    7. Onboard stop information is inconsistent or not available (um, yeah)

    8. Existing system is not configured for 2008 and future ridership demographics in 2008 and the future (um, yeah)

    (Come on folks, is all you’ve got? Other complaints I’ve heard include the “friendliness” of the drivers and the upkeep of the trolleys).

    The primary existing downtown service is provided by the “trolley-like” bus vehicles funded through the MAPS I initiative. Some parts of this service have been discontinued due to low ridership or funding pressures since its inception. Some operational funding has been redirected from downtown to other areas at various times over the 10 years of operation. The existing system is poorly understood by the general public.

    This confusion has caused poor ridership on routes that should exhibit higher ridership. Existing and new riders are often challenged by the inconsistent service delivery. In our assessment period, we received many complaints regarding late or no arrivals. While several stops are clearly identified at the Ford

    Center, OKC National Memorial, and Bricktown, most stops are not clearly obvious.

    Many stops appear undistinguishable from standard bus stops unless directly read by pedestrian traffic. These “regular” stops feature only limited signage and do not display running time, actual arrival time, and projected arrival time. Actual riders of the system have responded that the information regarding upcoming stops and or points of interest are not consistently conveyed by onboard signage or audible announcement.

    (Interesting note here: way, way back when, back when the trolleys were launched a decade ago, I asked then MetroTransit director Randy Hume if they had thought about using exterior trolley signs like those used by similar shuttles in San Antonio that clearly identified major attractions along the route. Randy told me then they’d “think about it.” Here’s another question: how much would a half dozen or so signs cost compared to what’s being spent on advertising for the river cruisers? Yes, I’ll keep bringing up this comparison because the river cruisers were launched as a form of public transit. Should a city be ensuring existing transit is being well run and funded before launching into an entirely new and untested form of public transit?)

    The most challenging aspect of the current system is that it does not efficiently serve the needs of the growing and diversified downtown community. Existing routes and stops are primarily configured for tourism. (Here’s another question: was the west route, the Orange route, based on need or political interests? Before the River Cruisers started up, the Orange Route was averaging 11 passengers a day).

    New citizen demographics and needs have evolved with new residential, office, health care and medical research development. Diversified business growth, new neighborhood corridors, and continued entertainment development lead to increased demand for Public Transportation, especially as fuel costs rise.

    SOLUTIONS

    1. Conduct detailed analysis to establish new routes

    2. Determine reprogramming operational costs

    3. Reprogram system routes

    4. Rehabilitate existing vehicles

    5. Design and install distinctive stop locations

    6. Improve and expand hours of service

    7. Use current technology to improve user information of scheduled and actual arrivals

    8. Embark on comprehensive marketing and information campaign

    9. Improve onboard experience with automated and consistent stop announcements

    10. New infrastructure should be designed for easy migration to a modern, ecological, customer friendly transit system The Transportation Subcommittee recommends that a detailed analysis should be conducted of potential new routes.

    Public and private input must be solicited from business, residential, development, entertainment, and tourism stakeholders. The input gathered should identify routes that service these various demographics, in order to maintain good ridership levels during all operational hours.

    Certain specific demographics may entice more direct routes, but stability and consistent ridership will help maintain the health of the system. Also, a diverse and eclectic ridership would justify a broadened daily operational period. Upon considering the data collected from stakeholders and available statistics, an optimal transit routing solution must be priced out. The system should be reprogrammed to the level of funds available and desired for further economic development.

    The existing operational “trolley-like” vehicles should be rehabilitated cosmetically and functionally for their remaining three years before they are life-expired. They should be reprogrammed with new onboard features for their prospective new uses. Bins, shelving, cargo nets, and other storage amenities should be incorporated to assist with groceries and other physical goods.

    Current technology should be incorporated for automated GPS activated audible and visual indicators regarding upcoming stops and tourist interest. The vehicle routes should be more clearly identified via vehicle colors or the reinstatement of the colored flag bumper indicators. Such enhancements will distinguish vehicles for pedestrian interaction. Distinctive, downtown-specific stop designators should be designed to incorporate operational information.

    These designators should also include current technology with GPS displays or audible signal to indicate the actual arrival time of a vehicle. Such designators could also incorporate kiosk features with additional relevant information. They should also be designed for authorized removal and transfer to new locations for future system upgrades or re-alignment. A comprehensive public information and marketing campaign must be implemented to increase awareness and ridership of the reprogrammed system. Such marketing will reinforce the accessibility and utility of the system to all potential user demographics. In addition, the ridership experience should be improved with vehicle operators that are trained in enhanced customer service.

    The personal interface between “trolley” operators and riders should follow the “Downtown Ambassador” model. Vehicle operators should be helpful in assisting customers with diverse knowledge of downtown, vehicle stops, points of interest, and available amenities. They should also assist downtown residents who have special needs including the proper stowage of physical items.

    OTHER FINDINGS- The Urban Neighbors Transportation Subcommittee noted in its initial surveys and interaction with potential users that increased fares to cover enhanced services would be acceptable. The subcommittee emphasizes that the existing “trolley-like” bus vehicles have a limited life expectancy and encourages the benefits and experience of a re-programmed system to be migrated over to permanent future solutions. There is great desire for a modern transportation solution that can permanently service the downtown and central city where density levels increasingly significantly.


    The success of improvements to the existing system should assist in the future development of transportation in all areas of the Oklahoma City metroplex.




    (Final note: Don’t expect Urban Neighbors to be the only group to weigh in on the trolleys. Bricktown is next).

  24. #24
    betts's Avatar
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    Would it be possible to make the trolleys free? If not, simply shortening the wait time and reliability would be extremely helpful. I think waiting time is the single biggest impediment to use, or, at least it is for me. If it's more than a ten to 15 minute wait, I'm going to walk. I don't mind walking, but others do.

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    It seems to me that if you make something free people will put up with a lot of inconveniences - even it just saves them 50 cents. Once you start charging to ride, people perception of what to expect changes.

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