View Full Version : Downtown Trolley system continues to draw complaints



metro
07-01-2008, 07:40 AM
Spirit Trolleys continue to drive complaints
Oklahoman
By Steve Lackmeyer
Main Street

John and Debbie Rowley are just the sort of tourists wanted by Oklahoma City as it seeks to make its downtown a regional attraction.
They traveled by plane to Oklahoma City earlier this month from their home in Petersburg, Ill., to see the Red Earth Festival at the Cox Convention Center.
They spent three nights at the neighboring Courtyard by Marriott, visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial, ate at Bricktown's restaurants and took a water taxi cruise on the Bricktown Canal.

They raved about downtown's attractions, they raved about the Red Earth Festival, they raved about their accommodations and the friendliness of the people they met.

But they've got one complaint and it echoes concerns I've reported previously voiced by downtown residents: the Oklahoma Spirit Trolleys.


Waiting game
"We stood for 50 minutes at a shuttle stop (the Blue line) that was across from the Cox Center (the Myriad Gardens location), Debbie Rowley said.
"Finally we and several other visitors to your city walked to our destinations with much disappointment.

"After spending four hours at the Memorial, we once again waited for the shuttle. This time we waited for 40 minutes, but it did arrive. Every place we saw advertising this shuttle, it said it would arrive every 20 minutes. Not so.

Ouch, that hurts.

As reported before, the downtown trolley service reductions the past few years were followed this year with the city spending more than $350,000 in an addition to public transit aimed at downtown the Oklahoma River Cruisers.

Downtown residents have complained that the trolley routes and schedules are not reliable now we're hearing the same thing from visitors like the Rowleys.

No big changes in sight
So far, no substantial trolley changes are coming for downtown visitors or residents. The Central Oklahoma Transportation Authority's spokesman, Michael Scoggins, said Monday that some tweaks are being planned for the Orange line that serves that Interstate 40/Meridian Avenue corridor that might add a stop at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
The Rowleys, meanwhile, have no regrets about their Oklahoma City visit, their first in a decade. And they would recommend it as a summer vacation stop to their friends.

Their only warning: Don't rely on the Oklahoma Spirit Trolleys.

metro
07-01-2008, 07:43 AM
As a OKC citizen, a downtown resident, worker and property owner, it really pisses me off that Mayor Cornett, the City, COTPA and others don't care to admit this is an issue or try and fix the situation. I've always been a supporter of Mayor Cornett, but if he wants a "big league city" , he needs to fix our "big league problem" of not having decent public transportation in this city!

Midtowner
07-01-2008, 08:08 AM
Waiting game
"We stood for 50 minutes at a shuttle stop (the Blue line) that was across from the Cox Center (the Myriad Gardens location), Debbie Rowley said.
"Finally we and several other visitors to your city walked to our destinations with much disappointment.

Been there, done that.

OKCMallen
07-01-2008, 09:04 AM
Embarrassing.

BDP
07-01-2008, 09:07 AM
Here's an idea:

Supposedly, the city has one of the best public service wi-fi systems in the country. Why don't we use it to implement GPS technology with our public transportation? Each vehicle could be outfitted with a GPS locator and that information could be relayed to the stop to either give estimated arrival times or, if we really want to be serious, displayed on some sort of locator map. Or, at least we could just have a website that tracked our buses and trolleys and then people could access it through their phones, pda's, laptops, etc. Maybe you could even enter you phone number and the stop you want to monitor on the site and it will send a message to your phone when the trolley is X minutes away or X number of stops away.

Basic GPS technology would be really cheap to implement, given that we already have the network. I know that some cab companies in larger markets have similar services. We could then maximize the use and accessibility of the piecemealed and fragmented system we have without even investing in new vehicles. While it would be better if we could just actually deliver the frequency promised, people would still be able to use what we have because they could plan around it and not waste time waiting and not knowing if the thing is even going to show up, i.e. they could spend more time at more attractions by minimizing the time spent at public transit stops.

As an added bonus it would greatly increase the ease of auditing the system, knowing where the hold ups are and allow us to upgrade services more efficiently and appropriately.

OKCTalker
07-01-2008, 09:08 AM
If COTPA can't competently run a limited trolley system, what hope is there for them to run a more comprehensive, wider-reaching mass transit system? Competition might solve this problem, but is there a realistic hope that another operator's proposal would be considered?

Midtowner
07-01-2008, 09:16 AM
If COTPA can't competently run a limited trolley system, what hope is there for them to run a more comprehensive, wider-reaching mass transit system? Competition might solve this problem, but is there a realistic hope that another operator's proposal would be considered?

Public transportation won't be profitable -- ever.

In COTPA's hands, even less so.

COTPA has a reputation for gross incompetence.

Steve -- if you're reading this, you might look into this possible story: I heard a rumor that the Santa Fe Parking Garage has never once turned a profit.

sroberts24
07-01-2008, 09:43 AM
light rail please!

betts
07-01-2008, 10:18 AM
Unacceptable. How hard can it be to run a meagre public transportation system like we have in OKC? We don't have a good bus system, or reasonable bus stops, so let's at least make the trolly system which our visitors use state of the art. It's as important as any other projects we have designed to make our city more attractive to tourists and our downtown user friendly for our residents.

Jesseda
07-01-2008, 10:29 AM
I took my visitng family to downtown last year, I thought it would be neat to ride the trolley to the things they wanted to see in downtown, we waited by the myriad gardens for a trolley, after 20 minute we gave up and i drove to the places we wanted to see, an we only saw 2 trolleys the whole day we here out (yes we went and ate and went into buildings but we did walk around and you would think spending the day in dowtown you would see more than 2 trolleys)

BDP
07-01-2008, 10:36 AM
How hard can it be to run a meagre public transportation system like we have in OKC?

I think the fact that it's meager is what makes it hard. No one will put in enough money and resources to build us a really "usable" public transit system, so the one we have is unreliable and, really, not very useful to many people. So, it's basically a system that the opponents of public transportation built so they can point at it and say "see, public transportation doesn't work and isn't needed in OKC... can we have $700 million for new roads".

:)

hipsterdoofus
07-01-2008, 01:10 PM
At least people ride it...Edmond drives around a trolley all day empty :)

blangtang
07-01-2008, 02:02 PM
tourists are neat and all, but how about providing something workable for the citizens of this big league city first; that would make more sense than dumping 1/2 million $ into the river cruise advertising campaign.

soonerguru
07-01-2008, 06:52 PM
If COTPA can't competently run a limited trolley system, what hope is there for them to run a more comprehensive, wider-reaching mass transit system? Competition might solve this problem, but is there a realistic hope that another operator's proposal would be considered?

This is a very thoughtful and timely question. I can't say what I know, but help is on the way, and it's not going to come from COTPA.

COTPA is a joke, but it is also underfunded. I'm not sure if they deserve all of the blame. It was explained to me this way: they have been underfunded -- and yet had so many different demands put on them -- they are unable to do anything successfully.

As someone who believes that government can be run efficiently and effectively, I don't necessarily buy this argument.

That being said COTPA is NOT the future. They are ill equipped for the needs of our modernizing city. There is another organization that is in the strong formative stages now that may provide a strong counterpoint, one that is potentially an operator of a system, but right now is more on the advocacy side.

When this group is put together, it's going to be composed of many powerful and progressive voices in this city, and the people I know who are involved at this stage are pragmatic and politically sensitive, but also passionately determined to delivering some workable, staged solutions to transit in this city.

Again, it's going to take citizens getting involved and analyzing the money trail of the old moneyed crowd and what has motivated them to develop the completely inadequate system we have today. The answers are cultural, political and financial, of course.

Now, regarding the Istook "rubber tire trolleys," we should just take them off the road if they cannot maintain a basic workable schedule for tourists. That's what they're designed for and they're not meeting their mission. If they aren't going to do it right, don't do it at all. As it stands now, they don't even seem to care that the system is unworkable for tourists.

How ominous in the article that the statement "no changes are planned" appears. What is that? This city deserves better -- if for nothing else, image alone. Let's face it: we don't have an ocean, mountains, world-class theater, top ten museums, or other attractions "major league" cities have. Can we just have a decent tourist trolley system that runs on time? Geez, how hard can it be?

Remember, Ernest Istook took money away from OKC that was designated for a street car system and gave us these cheesy, "vintage" trolleys. The sad thing is, many of our city leaders actually think of this as "transportation."

Let's drop the pretense. This city has a long ways to go before it's considered "major league."

solitude
07-01-2008, 08:51 PM
I think we could all share a story or two or three. It needs to be fixed. As OKCMallen said in one word: embarrassing.

dismayed
07-01-2008, 08:53 PM
Here's an idea:

Supposedly, the city has one of the best public service wi-fi systems in the country. Why don't we use it to implement GPS technology with our public transportation? Each vehicle could be outfitted with a GPS locator and that information could be relayed to the stop to either give estimated arrival times or, if we really want to be serious, displayed on some sort of locator map.

I thought I read a story about a year ago saying that they were going to start doing this? Did it ever happen?

angel27
07-01-2008, 09:45 PM
So many positive things are taking place and on the horizon; reliable and efficient mass transportation is missing. Needs to be done right - I don't know what that is. Sounds like some of you do and this is hopeful. Look forward to hearing about it.

metro
07-02-2008, 08:30 AM
soonerguru, I'm not sure what you're referring to in the works, but I do know ULI is working on a transportation seminar for the fall.

Thunder
07-03-2008, 11:02 AM
OKC is becoming a major league city. Just be patience. The Sonics is coming, and it will boost the ecomony. That alone, will spark up improved transportations, expecially with the trolleys, since there will be thousands of visitors and tourists flocking to the city and they will for sure complain, rant, scream, and cry about the trolleys. Plus, we will be getting the oil derrick and ferris wheel, so yeah, the trolleys will be dealt with.

jbrown84
07-03-2008, 11:19 AM
We are NOT getting the Oil Derrick, unless you want to pay for it, Thunder.

And the ferris wheel, though nice, is not the be all and end all.

We need to take care of the trolley problem before we have all these new tourists. Lets get it fixed before the Big XII tournament next spring.

metro
08-04-2008, 03:06 PM
Okay folks, some of us downtowners have had some serious momentum as of lately on the downtown mass transit front.

A subcommittee formed through Urban Neighbors and was recently informed that COPTA will be holding a workshop for the City Council on Tuesday, August 19, 2008, regarding a number of transportation issues.

COPTA management has visited with our group and is working with us in a number of ways to improve downtown transportation but are looking for direction from City Government.

The UN downtown transit subcommittee will be meeting at Aug. 8 in advance of the above meeting at 6pm, location TBA. For more information or to get involved with our committee on this important front, please contact Urban Neighbors. Contact info can be found at Home | Urban Neighbors (http://www.urbanneighbors.org)

solitude
08-04-2008, 03:11 PM
Okay folks, some of us downtowners have had some serious momentum as of lately on the downtown mass transit front.

A subcommittee formed through Urban Neighbors and was recently informed that COPTA will be holding a workshop for the City Council on Tuesday, August 19, 2008, regarding a number of transportation issues.

COPTA management has visited with our group and is working with us in a number of ways to improve downtown transportation but are looking for direction from City Government.

The UN downtown transit subcommittee will be meeting at Aug. 8 in advance of the above meeting at 6pm, location TBA. For more information or to get involved with our committee on this important front, please contact Urban Neighbors. Contact info can be found at Home | Urban Neighbors (http://www.urbanneighbors.org)

Good work, Metro! It's obvious you do more than talk. It makes me think of a great quote.

"The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.
- Ross Perot

HOT ROD
08-04-2008, 03:16 PM
Great news.

People, please attend this meetings and help make downtown and OKC's transit system better. Even if you don't live downtown (or even in OKC) - please attend to support the Progressive Renaissance that all of us want to keep moving in downtown OKC.

If I weren't 2000 miles away - Id be there.

Even if just numbers (maybe you're quiet or not confident in your ideas) - your presence, your support for Urban Renaissance - it all helps!

metro
08-04-2008, 03:26 PM
Thanks solitude/HOT ROD, here is also a .pdf memo from the last meeting. There is more developments but I cannot announce yet. I will keep you all posted as much and often as possible, just as I normally do:

http://www.urbanneighbors.org/Websites/urbanneighbors/Images/Envir_Comm_Update.pdf

mmonroe
08-04-2008, 06:00 PM
Let's start our own. Get a few CNG powered buses, and run the stops ourselves.

flintysooner
08-04-2008, 06:31 PM
There's a trolley just like that in Moore parked in front of the Old School on Broadway. It came from Minneapolis and has very few miles on it.

wsucougz
08-04-2008, 10:13 PM
I'm more convinced every day that OKC needs a real streetcar system linking a bunch of the burgeoning urban areas together: downtown, Bricktown, deep-deuce, A-Alley, Midtown, Paseo, Western, Chesapeake Village, strolling in and out of the old neighborhoods as you go.

What Does It Cost? (http://www.heritagetrolley.org/artcileBringBackStreetcars7.htm)

We could do all that for probably less than $100 million and people would ride the absolute ****e out of it. Chesapeake might even drop a few mil to extend the line up their way.

jstanthrnme
08-04-2008, 10:20 PM
Let's start our own. Get a few CNG powered buses, and run the stops ourselves.

Rickshaws maybe..

HOT ROD
08-04-2008, 10:48 PM
I totally agree WSUCougs

CuatrodeMayo
08-05-2008, 08:36 AM
Bicycle taxis!

Bobby821
08-05-2008, 09:01 AM
If they do not like to ride the Wanna Be Trollys then let them find another means of travel case closed... Next.

OKCTalker
08-05-2008, 10:21 AM
Installing rail lines and power is an incredibly expensive, permanent proposition at a time that tax receipts simply don't exist to pay for them. Also, OKC has never been a mass transit-committed town, so we'd be creating a permanent - and substantial - budget item that no-one can afford. I recall that Classen Boulevard was initially created as a trolley line serving then-remote suburban neighborhoods, and it was powered by the Belle Isle power station (demolished in the 1970s I believe). Who's got money to do that again?

More realistic options: Efficient - Hybrid or CNG busses. Cute - More of the trolley shuttles that we have.

Bobby821
08-05-2008, 10:40 AM
Nope put in trolly tracks and reinlist the interurban like it used to be !!!

jbrown84
08-05-2008, 12:10 PM
Belle Isle was demolished just 8 or 9 years ago. If it were still alive today, we might have a sweet adaptive reuse project in the works.

CuatrodeMayo
08-05-2008, 12:36 PM
Don't get me started on Belle Isle...


Nope put in trolly tracks and reinlist the interurban like it used to be !!!

For the first time, I agree with the troll.