View Full Version : OKC Nostalgic Tramway

07-18-2010, 12:38 PM
Just to clear it up right off the bat: this is a crackpot idea inspired by the heat. On that note, I'm currently studying for the summer in Istanbul, Turkey. Here they've recently rebuilt and renovated their old streetcar system (pictures below) in the tourist/shopping section of the city. The result has been spectacular, the streetcars are almost always full, and it really adds a sense of history. It occurred to me that it would be really neat if OKC could open up a small stretch and do something similar. Regrettably i'm sure it's impossible, but it would at least be nice! pg vay_kar%C5%9F%C4%B1la%C5%9Fmas%C4%B1.jpg
(Evidently the image embedder is broken, so I'm afraid I only have the links)

Larry OKC
07-18-2010, 10:32 PM
Isn't this what we intended on doing with the original MAPS, 16 years ago? Federal funding didn't come thru and we ended up with the retro rubber tired trolleys. Now w/MAPS 3 we are going to have streetcars again but they will be "modern" and ADA compliant etc.......

07-18-2010, 11:24 PM
Didn't Mr. Istook torpedo our light rail the first time?

07-18-2010, 11:35 PM
Didn't Mr. Istook torpedo our light rail the first time?

I've heard streetcar and light rail interchangeably used to describe what Istook put the kibosh on, so you and Larry are probably both right as far as I'm concerned.

What's especially fascinating is if you examine Istook's role in Salt Lake obtaining funding for their LRT. He was the top advocate of that project in D.C.

07-19-2010, 07:00 AM
If the original MAPS rail plan had taken place it would have been a disaster. The rail line at the time was supposed to go from the Meridian hotel district to downtown. This line would have been hardley used and probably would have prevented the Renaissance Hotel from being built (the first new one downtown in 20 years). There would have been very little ridership and probably would have squashed future plans (MAPS III) for any rail in Oklahoma City. Downtown/Meridian has been linked by two other transit options and both have failed to deliver (Rubber wheel trolley and boats).

Larry OKC
07-20-2010, 02:00 AM

1) Why would the Renaissance Hotel not have been built (do you mean not in that location, or not at all).

2) If you think the ridership would have been low, how does that differ from MAPS 3 (which will just be downtown and not linking to the Meridian corridor). I agree if it had been built in MAPS, there wouldn't have been a need for it in MAPS 3 (because it would already be in place), they would have moved on to the next Phase of the overall rail plan (16 years earlier). Since this is the "Starter" phase, if it fails with the public, it too will squash any future rail plans.

3) There are probably as many reasons for the other transit options failing but ones that come to mind are speed (the River Cruises are 90 min one way?) And the total lack of a consistent schedule with the Trolleys. IF info is even posted, they don't adhere to it (Steve has opined about this a couple of times). The nagging concern with the Streetcars is they are going to be run by the same folks responsible for the River Cruises and the Trolleys. Are they going to be run any more effectively than the other modes that they are overseeing now? If they know how to run something effectively, why aren't they doing it now?

07-20-2010, 12:40 PM
Larry. I mean the Renaissance Hotel wouldn't have been built at all. Hammonds wouldn't have taken the chance if downtown was linked to the existing hotel district.

Imagine if you wanted to build a hotel downtown valued at $25 million and the city came along said, Hey, we are going to connect downtown with 5,000 existing hotels. I am thinking that might discourage you from building. I might add that he would have been wrong to be afraid of the Meridian hotel district becasue no one would have used it anyhow. Ridership numbers would have been in the tank from day one, which would have probably negatively reflected downtowns ability to attract a crowd (yet another reason to discourage downtown hotel development).

The big difference between what was proposed in MAPS 1 and MAPS 3 is the target riders. The MAPS 1 version was 100% geared towards tourist. There was no way people were going to use it as a means of public transportation because it didn't follow actual traffic or growth patterns. It was a political ploy to get the hotels along Meridian to buy in to MAPS 1 (kind of like the Senior Centers are in MAPS 3). In other words, it was being built for the wrong reason in the wrong location - it wouldn't have worked. MAPS 3 rail is geared towards existing residents, existing employers, and existing entertainment destinations, with an eye towards attracting new urban residents, employers, and entertainment.

The idea of a downtown starter system makes the most sense, although some of the routes proposed are beyond ridiculous. Rail serves two purposes. First, it has to connect destinations following existing traffic patterns. Second, it is a physical anchor that encourages growth along the route. The last thing we need to do is spread that growth between downtown and the Meridian hotel district, via the fairgrounds. Urban growth first needs to be concentrated in the urban core and let it grow out organically.

As for following existing traffic patterns, I mean it has to go from where the people to are, to where those people want to go. Where do you think most of the people along Meridian want to go? It sure isn’t downtown. Most of the people that stay in Meridian hotels that are not here on business or visiting family are here for events at the fairgrounds. The rest are just stopping for the night while they travel I-40. If they are here on business and that business is downtown, they stay at a downtown hotel. Or they would drive their rental car that got them from the airport to the hotel.

Larry OKC
07-21-2010, 02:14 AM

You are correct as far as the political play to get the Hotel people on board as they didn't want improvements made to the Myriad (saw it as puling people away from the area) and advocated that a new convention center be built, most likely at the Fairgrounds. In a sense, they got what they wanted too with the Fairgrounds improvements in MAPS the Hotel/Motel tax and further improvements with MAPS 3 (there was some discussion that the new all-under-one-roof space proposed for the Fairgrounds would be in competition with the new MAPS 3 Convention Center).

There seems to be a disconnect with "Urban growth first needs to be concentrated in the urban core and let it grow out organically" and the 2nd purpose " it is a physical anchor that encourages growth along the route". It supposedly does that but does it in an artificial, contrived manner. You are saying, "we want development here, but it isn't happening on its own, so we are going to make it happen". I am not arguing for/against organic/contrived but would development extending all the way from Bricktown, to the Fairgrounds to Meridian have been such a bad thing?

We are doing the same thing with Core to Shore. Organically, left on its own, the City has declared the entire area "blighted" and through a series of public investment (the first part is the MAPS 3 Park, and Streetcars) is going to artificially transform the area.

Some of the rest, we may have to agree to disagree. Why did Hammond's decide to build in Bricktown and not somewhere else? Downtown hotel space was practically non-existent and I see them going into downtown as getting away from their competitors (otherwise, they could build along Meridian too). On an initial visit, they may stay along Meridian, but after visiting Bricktown, can easily decide on the next visit to stay there instead.

I disagree with the idea that those staying along Meridian don't visit Bricktown. I don't understand why you would want to cut yourself off from the tourist and wealth of $$$ from the Meridian corridor. Seems counter productive. So yes, MAPS was probably slanted more in favor of tourists than w/MAPS 3, they are trying to strike a balance with existing development, future development & the tourist element. But you have to remember that going after tourists is a smart move. Convention goers and people filling up the hotels mean primarily out of area NEW money being poured into the economy. The importance of tourism can not be over looked. Though it never got a 50% approval, that is what the Convention Center is all about. Will it live up to the economic expectations thrown out by the Chamber? We will have to wait and see.