Now is the time to outline solid strategies for reaching the goals. To do this, a new reliable funding source is needed. In 2005, the projected cost for implementing only the enhanced bus portion of the Fixed Guideway Study was an annual operating budget of $60 million. Compare this to COTPA's current operating budget of $24.4 million (52 percent coming from the city's general fund) and you'll see that we're far from the mark. The solutions that will take us to a big-league transit service would require, at minimum, a quarter- to half-cent tax (on a county/regional level) to achieve the transit levels we all desire.
We only have to look down the road at Dallas to see a city that's invested in public transit with a dedicated sales tax of 1 cent. Dallas has a strong bus system, expanding light rail, regional commuter rail and a new streetcar system.
It's time to lay the groundwork for an equally impressive public transit system in Oklahoma City, but it will take leadership, commitment and action at all levels to make it happen.
Semtner is a COTPA trustee.