OKC VeloCity | Celebrate the launch of the OKC Streetcar

Celebrate the launch of the OKC Streetcar

By Chamber staff / Inside OKC / December 14, 2018

The Oklahoma City Streetcar, a voter-approved project funded by the MAPS 3 program, is set to open today after 21 months of construction and testing. The OKC Streetcar, which will cover 5.1 miles with two routes throughout downtown Oklahoma City, represents a new era in local public transit.

Join Mayor David Holt and other civic leaders at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14 as the MAPS 3 Oklahoma City Streetcar begins service with a celebration and ribbon cutting downtown. See where you can park and ride along the streetcar route.

The ribbon cutting will be outside at Leadership Square Plaza, 211 N Robinson Ave., near the Business District Platform on the streetcar’s Downtown Loop. Following remarks from the Mayor and others, the OKC Streetcar will officially begin regularly scheduled service.

Festivities during the OKC Streetcar’s grand opening weekend includes live entertainment, special promotions and family activities.

In addition to better connecting downtown employees and residents to other parts of the district, the streetcar's two lines offer transportation to more than 10 million visitors of downtown attractions and 1.2 million visitors of downtown events annually. Many of the largest and most frequently visited entertainment venues in the state are located along the streetcar route in and around downtown Oklahoma City including: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge, Civic Center Music Hall, Oklahoma City National Memorial, Cox Convention Center, Bricktown Water Taxi, Scissortail Park and Oklahoma City Convention Center.

While operations begin this month, the tangible impact of the OKC Streetcar is already being felt in Oklahoma City. The project is considered to be an important economic development tool for future investment in downtown Oklahoma City. The streetcar sets the stage for future regional transit discussions throughout all of central Oklahoma, improves the overall walkability of downtown and encourages linkages to a number of different districts. According to a recently released investment impact analysis, the OKC Streetcar also positively impacts the economic development of the region.

The report, which was conducted by the Chamber and RegionTrack with input from EMBARK, the City of Oklahoma City and the Alliance for Economic Development, examines the three-block impact zone surrounding the streetcar route to better understand how the construction of a fixed-route impacted investment patterns and population growth.

“There can be a number of ways to measure the success of a streetcar including usage and ridership, improved access to downtown amenities, quality of life and enhanced visitor perception of our community,” said Roy H. Williams, president and CEO of the Chamber. “It is also vital to understand the investment and economic development that takes place along the route.”

Within the three-block impact zone around the streetcar route, there has been more than $1.6 billion in public and private investment since 2011, the year the streetcar route was announced. In that same time frame, the area within the three-block impact zone of the streetcar route has gained approximately 5,700 jobs (16 percent increase from 2011-2015), a 1.54 million square feet net increase of office space, 21 residential developments with 1,860 new housing units and seven new hotels with 833 hotel rooms.

“While we recognize there are many reasons companies and individuals make investment decisions, it is undeniable that the streetcar has had a positive impact on downtown investment decisions and will continue to do so in the future,” Williams added. “Businesses and developers see the short- and long-term benefits of being located in close proximity to this incredible downtown asset.  Tracking that investment over time will be a valuable tool for future development.”

Streetcar safety tips

While downtown drivers and pedestrians have already interacted with the streetcars thanks to many hours of safety training and testing, there are some safety considerations to take into account when traveling near the route. The following tips were compiled by EMBARK and used here with permission to help ensure that Oklahoma City is streetcar safe.

  • Be prepared to stop. Streetcars travel at or below the posted speed limits and make frequent stops.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Streetcars are extremely quiet and there are no fences or barriers that separate you and the streetcar.
  • Listen for warnings. Streetcars use bells and warning horns to alert you of their presence.
    Don’t dart in front of a streetcar. They can’t make abrupt stops or move off the tracks to avoid obstacles. A streetcar traveling at 20 miles per hour takes almost 60 feet to stop.
  • Follow your own traffic signals. Streetcars have their own traffic signals that are not intended for motorists, cyclists or pedestrians.

EMBARK also created a set of safety reminders for motorists, since streetcars run along a designated path that impacts parking and driving downtown.

  • Don’t overtake and/or pass any streetcar, even if it isn’t moving.
  • Park your entire vehicle within the white lines to avoid bumps, scrapes or damage to your mirrors.
  • Watch for approaching streetcars before turning.
  • Look before you open your car door to see if a streetcar or cyclist is approaching.
  • Never stop, idle or park your vehicle in the streetcar’s path or in bike lanes. This applies to all vehicles, including delivery and service vehicles.

Read the full list of safety tips, including specific guidance for pedestrians and cyclists, at www.okcstreetcar.com/safety.

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