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Oklahoma City continues planning for bus rapid transit

City of Oklahoma City

Bus rapid transit is coming to Oklahoma City this fall through an EMBARK initiative. The new public transportation system will travel its route more frequently than existing Oklahoma City buses.

That’s because it has been built to prioritize faster travel. Stops have been constructed to be level with the buses, so riders will not have to step up to board. The buses will make fewer stops along the route. Riders will pay fares before boarding the bus, either on a mobile app or a kiosk. EMBARK also hasplans to establish dedicated lanes for the buses to pull into to pick up passengers, and traffic signal prioritization that will allow them to pull out when other vehicles are not moving.

Planners liken bus rapid transit to a subway or light rail system.

The first rapid transit bus line in Oklahoma City is set to begin operatingin fall of 2023. It will drive anine-mile northwest route to connect downtown Oklahoma City and the Lake Hefner area.

The northwest route’s location was selected because 20% of Oklahoma City region jobs are located within a half-mile of the line's stops,according to EMBARK.

The bus rapid transit system is part of one of the 16 citywide improvement projects funded by theeight-year MAPS 4 sales tax. The City allocated $97 million for upgrades and expansion of transportation systems.

Planning has also begun for two more bus rapid transit routes that will travel through northeast and south Oklahoma City.

The two new lines will move into the next stages of development in early 2024.MAPS 4 planners estimate that buses in the Northeast Corridor will begin operating in 2028 and the South Corridor in 2029.

But, the city is collecting citizen input on the two new routes now.

Throughout June, Oklahoma City will hostfeedback open houses and pop-up listening opportunities around the proposed South and Northeast Corridors.

David Todd is the MAPS Program Manager, and oversees projects like EMBARK’s bus rapid transit system that are funded by the city’s temporary penny sales tax.

“While we’ve had really good response, I think that we can always have more,” he said at aJune 1 MAPS 4 Citizens Advisory Board meeting.

There will be input open houses in the South and Northeast Corridors this week.

MAPS 4 EMBARK BRT Open Houses:

Northeast Corridor

  • June 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma City Zoo Community Room (2000 Remington Pl, Oklahoma City, OK 73111)
  • June 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Ralph Ellison Library Rooms A and B (2000 NE 23rd St, Oklahoma City, OK 73111)

South Corridor

  • June 25 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Southern Oaks Library (6900 S Walker Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73139)
  • June 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce (701 W Interstate 240 Service Rd, Oklahoma City, OK 73139)

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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