The Oklahoma City Council has some concrete options to consider if it wants to add more public transportation capacity on Sundays. But, like the rest of the city's transit system, all of the choices include a hefty subsidy.
Council members have been discussing whether to add Sunday bus service in response to waves of Oklahoma City residents who asked for it during budget planning meetings this spring. Metro Transit estimates the cost of extending its Saturday service to Sunday at about $1.5 million, but council members asked for a list of alternatives before they make a decision.
The council also has a projected surplus of $1.5 million to spend during this fiscal year, and an expansion of bus service is among the possibilities for spending it.
But no matter what the council chooses, each Sunday rider will be supported by a subsidy that could be up to 15 times more expensive than the bus fare they pay themselves.
Passengers pay $1.50 for a single bus ticket in Oklahoma City. Some riders also buy weekly or monthly bus passes.
The expansion of the full Saturday service to Sunday would serve an estimated 1,500 riders per day in the first year and 3,000 per day in the second year, said Metro Transit spokesman Michael Scroggins. The city's subsidy would be $18.85 per passenger in the first year and $9.42 in the second year.
That's the option Metro Transit prefers, Scroggins said.
“We feel like that's what will give us the ridership numbers the community will look for,” he said. “Half of our ridership on Saturdays is using it to get to work. That same half is who has said, ‘I need it on Sunday as well to get to work.'”
The three alternatives presented to the council are a limited Sunday service, expansion of the current Metro Link service on Sunday that serves a narrow range of passengers, and a taxi voucher system.
The taxi voucher system would be similar to an existing program for elderly and disabled Oklahoma City residents. Passengers can buy a $10 voucher for $6, with federal grants paying for the city's $4 share, according to a city memo. The number of vouchers available would depend on how many the city wants to pay for.