About MTP

It's about you. It's about your quality of life. Improved public transit is for everyone. Improvements to our municipal transit system will improve our city with cleaner air, better access to free parking, facilitate a pedestrian lifestyle, and provide a truly functional alternative to the car when gas prices rise.

It's about our visitors. When new friends arrive, they will find a city that welcomes them. They will find a city that they can easily navigate, a city they remember as World Class.

It's about our disabled and elderly. This project empowers them with mobility. It inspires a greater respect towards those in need of further personal independence.

It's about our economy. Strategic development of transit will stimulate our economy, create jobs, and attract investment. Improvements can spur private development valued at 10 to 20 times the transit cost, further generating taxable revenue for other city services.

The Campaign Starts Now

The Modern Transit Project presents the first comprehensive campaign for major transit improvements in 40 years. The campaign was created in response to the growing desire for system improvements reflected again and again as citizens' #1 or #2 priority for the last several years in public surveys.

Basic Goals

  • Modernize System
  • Expand Access and Connections
  • Convert to Oklahoma's Own Fuel Resources
  • Develop Sustained Operating Resources

Effects

  • Improved Quality of Life
  • Advances our Burgeoning World Class Stature
  • Greater Alternative Mobility
  • Cleaner Air
  • Reduced Wear on City Streets
  • Quieter Operation
  • Economic Development
  • Greater Corporate Relocation Attraction
  • Support for our Local Wind and Natural Gas Producers
  • Greater State Revenue Through Consumption of Local Fuel

Immediate Focus

The MTP is focusing on the most obtainable goals first.

  1. The first rail public transit in Oklahoma's recent history utilizing electricity generated by our own prairie wind.
  2. The conversion of existing buses and purchase of new buses that utilize our own natural gas resources.

Following Steps

The MTP advocates system wide improvements to service and commuting capability. In 2005 the City of Oklahoma City and related authorities commissioned a blue print for the future. The Fixed Guideway Study contains information for a metro-wide transit solution. The MTP proposes the streetcar and bus upgrades act as a down payment on procuring additional federal funds to implement the other identified improvements to designated corridors.

The Association of Central Oklahoma Goverments (ACOG) has recently developed a regional committee to partner with the City of Oklahoma City and other metro cities to utilize the Fixed Guideway Study as a springboard for coordinated transit improvements. This will lead to joint planning and system integration with our neighboring communities of Edmond, Moore, Norman, Del City, Midwest City,

Sustained Transit Funding

The City of Oklahoma City currently approves funding for transit on an annual basis. The funding is limited and services fluctuate according to budget available. The operational budget has been directly affected by dramatic increases and decreases in fuel cost. Sustained funding would provide better operational stability and allow for improvements to service. The MTP advocates the necessary steps to determine a dedicated funding source.

Streetcars - Let's Bring It Back

The MTP proposes to bring back the streetcar to Oklahoma City. This once popular form of travel shaped our downtown and historic first suburbs.

Photo of Anton Classen and John Shartel, Looking North on Broadway

John Shartel and Anton Classen got it right with streetcar developments. Quiet, efficient, consistent and reliable, streetcars helped shape central Oklahoma City with its outstanding collection of buildings that are now being redeveloped.

New Growth Demands It

This denser environment makes rail a reasonable solution to provide an effective and viable transit solution for the central city. As downtown and these historic areas redevelop themselves with new residents, businesses, and major events, a new modern electric streetcar offers a key solution to moving about between neighborhoods and major district hubs.

Solution to Infamous Parking Problem

Bricktown Parking

With onboard wifi and wide comfortable seats, these air-conditioned transit vehicles would provide a enjoyable quick commute to any major central city district. A modern streetcar system offers a direct alternative to $3, $5, and yes, sometimes $10 parking in Bricktown and the Ford Center. Park further away where parking is cheaper or even free.

Connections for Visitors to Hotels and Event Locations

For visitors, a modern streetcar would provide direct access to conventions, event centers, entertainment and cultural destinations.

Amtrak and the Bus Station

Sante Fe Amtrak Station

The modern streetcar offers a potential direct connection between the Sante Fe train station next to Bricktown and the downtown bus transfer center. Travelers could utilize these connections to leave the car at home and travel out of state using this improved multi-modal connection.

High Speed Rail

Central Oklahoma has been designated by the Federal Government as a high-speed rail corridor through an application by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. In the event that funding becomes available in the future, high-speed rail to Tulsa and Texas may become a reality. The streetcar would provide improved connections to bus and future rail infrastructure.

Always Green for the Streetcar

When a major event takes place, the streetcar system would be a safe and comfortable device to escape the crowds. Oklahoma City is already technologically advanced with a "smart" traffic signal system. The modern streetcar could communicate with these signals enabling the intersection to be "always green" on the approach.

History Repeats Itself?

Belle Power Plant and 1947 Streetcar

Quite possibly, many of the new modern streetcars may traverse the very same locations that the original streetcars did. As the route maps are finalized, it will be fascinating to compare the two.

As, plans are developed for MAPS 3, the modern streetcar option offers itself as a logical component to connect the proposed new Convention Center, Grand Boulevard, Central Park, and Riverfront developments to the already established and growing downtown area.

Major Connections

Route of Major Connections

Ride the Wind - an MTP Innovation

Belle Power Plant and Windmill Electricity

MTP has developed a concept to harness Oklahoma's own prairie wind to power the new streetcar. Original streetcars were once powered at the Belle Isle coal-fired power plant. Oklahoma's new wind industry holds promise for a new electricity resource to power the modern streetcar.

Technical

  • Powered by Electricity
  • Up to 140 Passengers at one time
  • Air Conditioned
  • Curb Height Access (Easy ADA Accessibility)
  • All Wheel Drive
  • Regenerative Braking (Braking sends power back into the grid)
  • Passenger Information System (Digital displays and audible announcements)
  • Real-Time Location Through GPS (Global Positioning Satellite)
  • Live Information Displayed at Stops and on the Web

Frequently Asked Questions

What is streetcar transit?

Streetcars are a simple mode of public transit that operates along a fixed rail guideway that is embedded within the surface of the roadway. While streetcars cannot deviate from the path of the guideway, the operator of the streetcar "drives" the vehicle, accelerating and braking to move along with traffic that also may operate in the same lane as the streetcar.

Is streetcar the same as light rail?

Streetcars are related to "light rail" transit; the difference is that streetcars are smaller, lighter, less expensive, and usually run in traffic, rather than in their own exclusive right of way. Powered by quiet electric motors, these vehicles use a simple pole, the pantograph, to collect power from an electrified wire that is suspended approximately 20 feet over the lane in which the streetcar runs.

Perhaps more importantly, streetcars and light rail transit serve different trip purposes and transportation needs. Light rail transit services primarily serve long haul commuter trips, and streetcars are primarily designed to connect local areas with more frequent stops. In addition, outside downtown areas light rail requires a dedicated right-of-way. The street provides the right-of-way for streetcars.

Why can't we just add more buses Downtown?

There are three key reasons why adding more buses will not work as well as the streetcar for circulation:

  1. The number of buses required to equal the capacity of one streetcar makes buses more expensive to operate and maintain.
  2. Examples show that streetcars attract new riders (people who otherwise would not ride a bus) because of the convenience, comfort, attractiveness and reliability of the streetcar – thus, the streetcar increases the number of people who will use transit.
  3. A streetcar has a fixed route that cannot easily change, demonstrating to riders as well as potential project developers that the streetcar will indeed come by regularly. This stability is particularly reassuring to visitors unfamiliar with our city.

How will streetcars operate in mixed traffic?

The proposed streetcars will operate in a designated lane of traffic in essentially the same manner that buses do today. The driver of the streetcar can accelerate and brake to move along with traffic but does not have to steer the vehicle because it runs along the rails embedded in the roadway surface. In some cases, streetcars can be provided traffic signal priority that enables the streetcar to clear congested intersections and maintain schedule during heavy traffic.

The streetcar design process will coordinate with the City of Oklahoma City Public Works Department regarding traffic signals along the project alignment. Coordination will continue through design and construction, to ensure safe and efficient traffic operations.

How will streetcars affect on-street parking?

Parking impact generally would be minimal. Existing on-street parking spaces may be needed to construct the loading platform at stop locations. The size of the loading platform is equal to about 2 - 3 parking spaces for a single streetcar stop.

Converting City Buses to CNG

Why convert our bus system to compressed natural gas?

Economy

Compressed Natural Gas is an American product. But even more importantly, it is an Oklahoma product.

Oklahoma City's economy is directly affected by the natural gas that our state produces. Creating well paying jobs and injecting needed income into our local economy, Oklahoma's natural gas producers are vital to Oklahoma City's well being.

Diesel Gas Pump

Why then are we sending millions of your dollars overseas every year? Each year, the city's transit authority purchases millions of dollars of foreign diesel fuel. Those dollars could remain right here in Oklahoma.

Stabilizing Long-Term Service and Reliable Bus Routes

Global demand of oil to create diesel fuel is skyrocketing. The wildly fluctuating fuel costs have often directly impacted the reliability of bus service. In recent years, these costs have forced reduction in stops, service levels and in some cases the elimination of routes all together.

CNG buses cost slightly more in upfront. However, the savings over a 12-year life of the bus can amount to 50% - 60% the cost of even the highest efficiency rated diesel buses.

Clean Air

In recent years the quality of Oklahoma City's air has decreased as vehicle use has increased. More cars on Oklahoma's roads mean added emissions to the air. Public transit goes a long way to taking people out of cars and improving air quality. However, imagine the improved air quality if the dirty emissions belched out of city buses were reduced up to 70%. Conversion of every city bus to our own clean, environmentally friendly natural gas is warranted for the long-term health of our community.

Breathe - Woman with Sky

Avoid Costs and Attract Business

"Although we remain one of the largest cities in the country still in compliance with the Clean Air Act, that status is in jeopardy." Mayor Cornett 2007 State of The City Address

As required by the Clean Air Act, EPA has recently tightened the national air quality standard for Ozone. Oklahoma is now dangerously close to moving out of attainment of this standard and much will depend on whether the 2009 Ozone season is similar to the last two years or to the hot, sunny summer of 2006. We have been fortunate in that our air quality has been healthy for our citizens and attractive to industry, visitors and for economic development in general. In the event that Oklahoma City becomes a "nonattainment" area for Ozone, The State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma industry and society in general will all likely incur increased costs that could range from vapor recovery at gas stations, vehicle inspections, reduced company relocations, and potential loss of federal highway funding. Reduction in emissions of Nitrogen Oxides and Volatile Organic Compounds through increases in efficiency and new technology is a key way to avoid these costs. Substantial reduction of pollution from our buses can be a significant public step forward to maintain and improve air quality.

Why haven't we done this sooner?

Oklahoma City Experimented with Early Natural Gas Buses

In the 1990's, Oklahoma City's Transit Authority experimented with two buses powered by natural gas. The buses held promise but still had not overcome day-to-day technical issues that impeded the equipments performance. In addition, two buses out of an entire fleet proved simply inefficient to deal with. Traditional diesel buses received priority in order to keep a consistent servicing and operational schedule.

Fueling Stations

The State of Oklahoma and Federal Government are now making available funds to construct fueling infrastructure for natural gas. This shift in policy and funding now makes CNG an attractive solution with funding for fueling facilities.

Diesel Gas Pump

The Time is Now

The time is now to convert our city's public transit bus fleet over to clean Oklahoma natural gas. Talk to city leaders and encourage them to incorporate conversion to Oklahoma's Natural Gas as part of our transit improvements.

Funding

The Time is Now

"This blueprint is complete. You may recall we spent a year and a half on the study. We now know enough to get started, and there are a number of places we can start. But the key is that we need to get started." (Mayor Cornett's State of the City Address 2009)

Down Payment on the Future

Oklahoma City has historically underfunded public transit projects for over 40 years. Over the past several years, transit improvement has repeatedly been one of the highest public desires for a ballot initiative.

With the strong backing of a variety of polling data, the MTP advocates major structured transit improvements through a voter initiative. It is time for voters to make the down payment on the future of transit in our city.

An investment of only $140 million dollars out of a MAPS 3 or simultaneous ballot initiative would provide the proper impetus for a stepped metro-wide solution. Installation of the streetcar would serve as the core of a fully integrated system capable of expansion as funds and needs allow. It also serves as a true multi-modal connector between many other current and future forms of transit.

With local funds and the blue prints of the city's Fixed Guideway Study in hand, Oklahoma City can embark on systemic improvements and have the collateral to then apply for additional federal and state funding for further phases.

Practical Time Line

First Step

$100 Million for Central City Streetcar
$40 Million for Bus System Upgrades

Sustained Funding Mechanism for Stability

Secondary Local Investment

Application for $20 million in State Funds for CNG Fueling Infrastructure

Potential of up to $18 million in private investment for Transit Oriented Development Connections to Municipal Infrastructure. (Developers could invest funds to expand the streetcar lines into new developments)

Primary Goals 1 and 2: Projected Costs and Return of Investment

Did You Know?

Since MAPS Projects started to come online in 1998, it is estimated that MAPS 1 and MAPS for Kids have generated over 4 Billion Dollars in further private investment and development.