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  1. #1

    Default Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    I went to the "NW Corridor Study Meeting" tonight held by EMBARK at OCU. Somewhere between 60 and 120 people were there or came through. EMBARK had a informal meet and greet before the formal presentation in Meinder's Hall.

    Apparently, we were one of five US cities to receive money for a planning grant to cover analysis of the area from the downtown EMBARK transit center up Classen and NW Expressway to roughly Meridian.

    I will post pictures and the map that they sent out in the press release. I also have many thoughts about the study, the study results, and BRT in general. Kudos to the people involved in the study including the EMBARK's chief Transit Planner Larry Hopper, EMBARK staff, the OKC Planning Department, ACOG, and the OU Institute for Quality Communities.

    One of the things that struck me, is by having OUIQC involved, illustrations and details were created that dealt with many chaotic and dangerous intersections affecting pedestrians and bicyclists.

    Generally there are many "pro's and cons" related to BRT and it's effectiveness. However I am glad that they are giving this corridor attention and analysis that it deserves. Particularly in advance of the next GO Bond, MAPS 4, or potential FTA funds that may enable implementation in the next few years.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway



    And probably my favorite. This is a dangerous intersection!
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  4. Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    Are the EMBARK people calling this BRT?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    The City's official press release Just the facts. And I think I know where your headed with this. Not remotely like true BRT like in Bogota, Columbia.

    August 13 Community Meeting

    Concept Transit Plan For NW Corridor To Be Presented

    (Aug. 11, 2015) EMBARK invites the public to a community meeting and open house on Thursday, August 13 at 6 p.m. to learn about a concept transit plan for the NW Corridor.

    The Oklahoma City Planning Department, Oklahoma City County Health Department, the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments and EMBARK will present on the concept plan which identifies the potential for multimodal transportation in the NW Corridor. In this plan, the NW Corridor is defined as the area that runs along North Classen Boulevard and Northwest Expressway. The goal of the concept plan is to focus on increasing mobility and healthcare access through multimodal public transportation options.

    The corridor is the longest and most intensely developed urban corridor in the city, containing about 120,000 jobs, 75,000 residents and three hospitals. Studies have recommended the NW Corridor for bus rapid transit (BRT), a high-amenity transportation system that mimics a light rail system. While the concept plan will examine how BRT service could be integrated in the area, it will also evaluate potential multimodal improvements in the area such as bicycle and pedestrian connections and signalized pedestrian and cycling crossings.

    The meeting will be held on Thursday, August 13 in Meinders Hall at Oklahoma City University, located at 2601 N. McKinley Ave and is accessible via EMBARK Route 023/23N(stops 3937 or 4006) as well as Route 005 from stop 3781. The public is invited to attend the open house to view the maps of the NW Corridor from 5:15 to 5:45 p.m. and participate in a discussion from 6 to 7 p.m. For more information, contact Larry Hopper, EMBARK’s planning manager at 405-297-3935 or Larry.hopper@okc.gov.

    About EMBARK

    EMBARK is a division of the Central Oklahoma Transportation & Parking Authority. COTPA, a public trust administered by the City of Oklahoma City, is responsible for providing safe, efficient and convenient public transportation to the citizens of the greater Oklahoma City area.

    To learn more about EMBARK and view bus schedules and routes, visit www.embarkok.com or call (405) 235-RIDE (7433) for personal assistance from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. To learn more about carpooling or to be matched with someone in your area, visit www.getaroundok.com.

    Media Contact: Michael Scroggins, Public Information Officer
    Office: (405) 297-2107 Mobile: (405) 837-9510
    michael.scroggins@okc.gov

  6. #6

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    "True" BRT, as far as I know, never actually done in the United States properly. You have to ask yourself. is it possible to do here or is the "compromise" a significant enough improvement over the bus routes in these areas as they stand today. And also the pedestrian improvements.

    Streetfilms | Bus Rapid Transit: Bogotá

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    I really wanted to attend that meeting but had a conflict. Thanks for the update.

  8. Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    I'll need to check out our new BRT system here in Jax but my understanding is that it will be 55 miles of dedicated bus-only lanes on 5 lines.

    My concern is if it will be functional or not. So what if one can get to the next bus stop faster if there is nothing at the next bus stop except a giant parking lot. Without walkable density it simply won't work as a mass transit system. I guess people can use it to commute downtown.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway


  10. #10

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    I think BRT could work well along this corridor. I know there is a big difference in population density between OKC and Pittsburgh, but PIttsburgh has one of the largest BRT systems in the US. It works just like a light rail system, mostly in its own dedicated lanes, and even has technology to advance traffic lights to keep the system moving. It rarely has to interfere with traffic, plus, construction costs a fraction of what light rail construction would cost. Until a fully functional regional rail system is implemented in OKC, BRT is the way we should be going.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    I'll need to check out our new BRT system here in Jax but my understanding is that it will be 55 miles of dedicated bus-only lanes on 5 lines.

    My concern is if it will be functional or not. So what if one can get to the next bus stop faster if there is nothing at the next bus stop except a giant parking lot. Without walkable density it simply won't work as a mass transit system. I guess people can use it to commute downtown.
    This. NW Expwy is about as unwalkable as it gets, so there would be zero point in using a BRT. Nothing against that part of town as that's how 99% of OKC was built. And I'm not sure why people would use it commute downtown either? Downtown in a few years is going to have a skyline dominated by parking garages.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    I'm not sure where the presentation is, though I'm certain it is out there, but what we were shown at the ACOG CAC meeting last week by Embark regarding the BRT study was promising and factored in pedestrian access as well as other reasons why to choose that corridor, in particular because of the employer/jobs density, as well as the shopping hot spots. Seemed reasonably well thought out. While I'm not saying this is the most ideal corridor for this transit approach (in the world), it might be the best corridor OKC has to offer when considering all those factors in addition to the room needed to make dedicated bus lanes. I know Reno is noted as a possible BRT route option in the 2005 fixed guideway study, but I'm not sure it has the same kinds of jobs density along it, though I do think there's other merits to that route.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    Quote Originally Posted by shawnw View Post
    I'm not sure where the presentation is, though I'm certain it is out there, but what we were shown at the ACOG CAC meeting last week by Embark regarding the BRT study was promising and factored in pedestrian access as well as other reasons why to choose that corridor, in particular because of the employer/jobs density, as well as the shopping hot spots. Seemed reasonably well thought out. While I'm not saying this is the most ideal corridor for this transit approach (in the world), it might be the best corridor OKC has to offer when considering all those factors in addition to the room needed to make dedicated bus lanes. I know Reno is noted as a possible BRT route option in the 2005 fixed guideway study, but I'm not sure it has the same kinds of jobs density along it, though I do think there's other merits to that route.
    I mean at least a BRT is even a consideration, which is massive progress. The problem is if you invest the resources into something which is doomed to fail anyway, you pretty much kill any chance of being able to pour more money into other transit projects, even if they would have a much better shot of working. Unfortunately there is absolutely nothing on NW Expwy that is built around the pedestrian. It's not even safe to walk across the Penn Square mall parking lot (ok I'm being somewhat facetious but my point still stands). I'd much rather see this type of investment go into the core, which for now is pretty much the only place in OKC where people consistently walk places and don't have the expectation of just driving their F350 everywhere and parking for free at their destination (and granted that's not even true, judging by how many people complain about the "parking shortage" in midtown on this forum on regular basis).

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    Quote Originally Posted by no1cub17 View Post
    Unfortunately there is absolutely nothing on NW Expwy that is built around the pedestrian. It's not even safe to walk across the Penn Square mall parking lot (ok I'm being somewhat facetious but my point still stands).
    That is my point. The plan presented included improving pedestrian crossings and transit access in key areas.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    If we're going to spend money on mass transit in an area, that area needs to be retrofitted into a more pedestrian friendly place. Otherwise it doesn't do us any good at all. We'd be wasting our money.

    I think you could turn the area of NW Expressway and May into a nice urban center. There are a few skyscrapers there, surrounded by a sea of parking. But honestly that's going to need a lot of work. I don't really see market forces causing it to change anytime soon. It would have to be a massive public investment, and our tax dollars are probably better spent in the core. Probably the best plan would be to establish some sort of design review board for the area, change the zoning codes to promote mixed use, and then wait 20 years.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    One thing to keep in mind is that any sort of BRT routes and Rail routes are going to change how the overall system functions.

    Once you establish a BRT route, you no longer run routes all the way downtown that can just be transferred over to the BRT or Streetcar route. So you can make the BRT route effective as a means of transit by connecting the BRT route with a May/Expressway circulator. Since the area is not yet walkable, you have the circulator that is taking people around to all the important areas between May and Lake Hefner Parkway. From there, you can serve lots of people who live downtown or near the BRT line but who work at Integris, in any of the variety of office buildings etc.

    Obviously a focus needs to be made on urbanization where urbanization is possible, but this is going to require parking garages in parts of the city where we want to retrofit. I wouldn't mind seeing the city develop an initiative where we subsidize parking garages in places where surface parking provides a great opportunity for suburban retrofitting. I think about the Home Depot, Best Buy parking lot. If you build a 3 to 5 story garage to cover parking for the area, then you create space for apartments, more retail, etc. Same with several other massive parking lots in the area.

    But we have to start retrofitting somewhere, and we may as well start where there's already successful commercial and add urban housing to the mix.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    Maybe I'm an extremist, but I don't see how parking garages would help anything. At the end of the day, they do the same thing that surface lots do - which is encourage people to drive - and not walk or use any form of mass transit. Penn Square Mall has a massive parking garage attached - doesn't make that part of town any more walkable.

    This is why it's so mind-boggling why the city is wasting so much money building parking garages but at the same time the streetcar is going forward. Build one or the other. If you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    You build parking garages to open up real-estate to be developed.

    You build a parking garage somewhere in the Home Depot/Best Buy parking lot and then build 4 to 6 story mixed use developments that house 150 to 300 residential units, some office and more retail on top of the rest of the current surface parking. You could fit at least a Maywood Phase II sized development on that parking lot if you added a garage that could provide parking for the whole area.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    Would still be a massive waste of money IMO. That real estate is open to be developed anyway. How many of those parking spots in the Home Depot/Best Buy lot are taken at any given time? Nationally at least, half of all parking spots in the US go unused at any given time. And will parking be free in the garage? I assume so, given OKCers' aversion to 1) paying for parking and/or 2) walking more than two feet from their cars to their destination. So why spend such a large chunk of money on a garage if that money will never be recouped? Much better uses for that money,

  20. #20

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    Quote Originally Posted by no1cub17 View Post
    Would still be a massive waste of money IMO. That real estate is open to be developed anyway. How many of those parking spots in the Home Depot/Best Buy lot are taken at any given time? Nationally at least, half of all parking spots in the US go unused at any given time. And will parking be free in the garage? I assume so, given OKCers' aversion to 1) paying for parking and/or 2) walking more than two feet from their cars to their destination. So why spend such a large chunk of money on a garage if that money will never be recouped? Much better uses for that money,
    Incentivizing means requiring certain things before just giving the money. I'm not saying we should just build a bunch of garages and see what happens. It would function very much like a TIF. People apply for it complete with a full proposal of what they want to accomplish and the city releases the money only once everything is completed.

    Nobody is going to just choose to build on top of that parking lot, because realistically only half of the area is not enough to justify having to 1. eat the expense of creating the market because right now, these land owners are not actively looking for buyers, and 2. There is no economy of scale. If you only have half the area because the rest of the parking is actually necessary, you're not going to get enough additional living space to increase density in a way that changes the market forces in that area.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    And I'm not saying we should start in on that project in the next 5 years, but it needs to part of a longer term vision. We need to retrofit the Belle Isle mass parking lot first anyway.

    But if we're going to declare it a waste of money now and forevermore, than we are essentially saying that we are going to give up on OKC. At some point, we're going to have to pay the money to fix our mistakes.

  22. Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    You guys are having the classic discussion many have with suburban retro-fitting. I struggled with idea for a long time but concluded it isn't worth the cost in most place. It' better to just write it off as a mistake and let it collapse under its own financial weight than spending billion to fix it. Lessons cost money, good lessons cost lots of money.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    You guys are having the classic discussion many have with suburban retro-fitting. I struggled with idea for a long time but concluded it isn't worth the cost in most place. It' better to just write it off as a mistake and let it collapse under its own financial weight than spending billion to fix it. Lessons cost money, good lessons cost lots of money.
    For the most part I agree, but where there is strategically placed retrofitting you might make an exception. For example, the Kings Crossing development sits along the busiest transit corridor and is currently suburban in nature. This would be a great opportunity to retrofit the site with urban principles.

    Additionally, the OUHSC area is not beyond rescue at this point. A freeway cap over 235 connecting the area to AA/Deep Deuce would make that particular place a strong candidate for retrofitting.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    The first two areas we should look at retrofitting are Penn Square Mall and OUHSC. The HSC area just needs housing and retail. There's a lot of bad street interaction with the buildings that are there right now, but there's good density. Things are close to each other and there are a lot of people who work in that small area. We won't have a streetwall anywhere over there for at least 30 years, too many buildings are pushed too far back. But there are a ton of surface parking lots there, so there's ample room to build good urbanism in there with it. If we start making a concerted effort to redevelop that area, it would be worth it to run the streetcar over there and connect that area with the rest of downtown.

    If we proceed with the idea of running the streetcar up Classen to the Chesapeake campus, we're going to pass right by Belle Isle/Penn Square Mall. Making this area more pedestrian friendly will be a must. Penn Square is incredibly profitable, so I doubt they want to give up their massive surface parking lots. But that's an area that has to get improved if we're putting a streetcar stop there. There's tremendous potential, and adding the convenience of access to Penn Square from downtown is huge. Like it or not, it's still one of the best shopping areas in OKC, and streetcar access to it will make living downtown more appealing. You've got the same shopping choices the suburban guys have without ever having to get in your car.

    However, this means that going up NW Expressway gets pushed even further back. There are places with better upside, with better access, that require attention first.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Bus Rapid Transit System "BRT" up Classen / NW Expressway

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    I'll need to check out our new BRT system here in Jax but my understanding is that it will be 55 miles of dedicated bus-only lanes on 5 lines.

    My concern is if it will be functional or not. So what if one can get to the next bus stop faster if there is nothing at the next bus stop except a giant parking lot. Without walkable density it simply won't work as a mass transit system. I guess people can use it to commute downtown.
    I wonder if the intent was to collect passengers from some of the other lines for faster access downtown.

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