Rotary hears transit proposals

Passengers catch a ride on the bus at the EMBARK station on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Norman residents will vote on Nov. 12 to determine if they will create a sales tax to support public transportation. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] |

Rotary hears transit proposals

Embark Director Jason Ferbrache says MAPS 4 aims to give more people more reasons to ride the bus. Ferbrache spoke to the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City, reviewing details of the $87 million in proposed transit system improvements included in MAPS 4.

MAPS 4 includes $87 million for public transit, most of it for two bus rapid transit lines.

More people will have more reasons to ride the bus if voters approve MAPS 4, Embark transit Director Jason Ferbrache said Tuesday as he reviewed the proposed $87 million in MAPS 4 transit spending for the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City.

Public transit makes up 9% of the estimated $978 million that would be raised by extending the 1-cent MAPS sales tax for eight years.

Voters will decide Dec. 10.

Ferbrache said Embark buses serve 240 of the 621 square miles within Oklahoma City’s borders.

Within that service area, and with MAPS 4 funding, Embark aims to operate more buses more frequently, upgrade bus stops with shelters and lights, and attract more commuters with luxury coaches on bus rapid transit routes from northeast and south Oklahoma City.

Ferbrache said MAPS 4’s transit ideas are based on strategies developed starting with 2005’s “fixed-guideway study” — a 2030 vision for a robust bus network, bus rapid transit, commuter rail and an option for moving riders efficiently around downtown.

MAPS 3 provided the downtown piece with the $138 million OKC Streetcar system.

Trustees have been selected for a Regional Transportation Authority to develop commuter rail, while the city’s first bus rapid transit line, a $28.8 million undertaking financed in part by a $14.3 million federal grant, is being designed.

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Ferbrache said MAPS 4 transit includes:

• $60 million, primarily for two more bus rapid transit routes. Bus rapid transit mimics rail with park-and-ride lots, sheltered platforms, level boarding, and dedicated lanes or priority at traffic signals.

• $12 million, primarily for additional buses and technology, known as traffic signal prioritization, to give buses priority at about half of the 490 signalized intersections in the service area.

• $10 million, to install 500 handicap-accessible bus shelters with security lighting at stops. Half the system’s 1,400 stops would then have shelters; security lights would be installed at remaining stops.

App-based services known as micro transit are envisioned to connect more people living outside the service boundaries to public transit.

Neighborhood buses would run more frequently, with a focus on 30-minute frequencies at a minimum and 15-minute frequencies on some routes — Ferbrache singled out the 23rd Street Crosstown bus and Route 5, from downtown to Memorial Road, as those that could benefit from the most frequent service.

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