Oklahoma City could improve bus service and attract more riders without spending more money, transit consultants told the city council on Tuesday.
The downside: Buses would be less convenient for about 3.5 percent of current riders.
Nelson\Nygaard, a consulting firm founded in San Francisco, gave the council a preliminary look at its study of the Oklahoma City bus system.
Consultants said the city could improve service by:
• Cutting four routes.
• Keeping buses on main roads. Some routes now sidetrack into neighborhoods.
• Simplifying the way buses circulate downtown.
• Coordinating routes to reduce waiting times at the downtown transit center.
• Creating hubs outside downtown, including at the OU Health Sciences Center campus, where riders could transfer from bus to bus.
Public transportation improvements were an issue in the campaign of John A. Pettis Jr., the newly elected council member from Ward 7 in northeast Oklahoma City.
Pettis said service reductions suggested by Nelson\Nygaard — while intended to improve efficiency and frequency of service — would affect riders from Ward 7. He called the suggestions a “tough call.”
Pettis said the city had done a poor job of planning for two recent projects in the northeast: the Oklahoma City-County Health Department's new Northeast Regional Health and Wellness Campus, 2600 NE 63, and the planned relocation of Social Security's office to NE 122 and Kelley Avenue.
Buses don't run to either location, he said.
Ward 2 council member Ed Shadid said the health department and Social Security projects were examples of asking transit officials “to chase poor planning and poor design.”
“What I'm looking for is everyone to get on the same page,” Shadid said.
Consultants said they would expect an increase of 5 to 10 percent in ridership, along with reduced travel times, from implementation of their suggestions for cutting and streamlining routes.
About the study
Consultants rode every route in the city and interviewed riders as part of the study. They found that riders transferring downtown had an average wait of 20 minutes for their next bus.
The transit report cost $155,761. About 80 percent of that cost was paid for with federal transit planning money, according to Metro Transit spokesman Michael Scroggins.
The full report is to be finished next month.
Shadid tried to question the consultants about their proposals in relation to the MAPS 3 plans for a downtown streetcar but council member Pat Ryan — sitting in for Mayor Mick Cornett — said the discussion had gone on for an hour and gaveled the meeting to a close.