Oklahoma City’s mass transit plan isn’t the problem. It’s the money. Metro Transit spent 18 months studying public transportation options, which included public forums. The resulting plan included better bus service, commuter rail, a modern streetcar for the downtown area and bus rapid transit, which is a hybrid between bus and rail. Total price tag: $394 million to build and $90 million a year to maintain. "If we could implement this, it would create a convenient and user-friendly system,” transit spokesman Michael Scroggins said. "Quite frankly we just aren’t able to accommodate the needs of our citizens and visitors at this time.” Everyone in city government, even those who work in transit, acknowledge the bus system is inconvenient for many residents. Even with such a hefty price tag, many believe the system could be built. Federal transit money also is available for such projects and city leaders are pushing the state to fund more transit initiatives. Ward 4 Councilman Pete White said the current economic downturn has made funding a more difficult prospect. "Prior to a month ago, I would have said I was very optimistic we could find the money for it,” White said. "We have to take a wait and see attitude in the next few months as far as the financial situation before we commit to new services.” Though the local economy is strong in comparison to other areas, White said tough economic times will trickle down. White said he’s confident a good mass transit system can be built in Oklahoma City. It just might take longer than anyone had hoped if the money isn’t readily available. "We’re moving in that direction about as well as we can, given that we are not laid out to be a walkable city,” White said. "In the long term, mass transit is the only real solution.” Ken Spaulding’s answer to record gas prices used to be a car pool. He and his sister rode together from Norman each day to their jobs in Oklahoma City. She retired this summer, just in time for the record gas prices that left Spaulding with a dilemma. His new commuting strategy is saving him even more money than the car pool, and he says it is better for the environment. Spaulding started riding the bus. He drives five minutes from his Norman home to the bus stop, then takes the Sooner Express from Norman to downtown Oklahoma City each day. "It’s about a five or 10 minute walk to my office,” Spaulding said. "The price of gas has just gone out of sight, so I figured the easiest way to deal with that was to take the bus.” Spaulding figures he’s saving as much as $90 a month on gas once you take out the $25 cost of his senior citizen bus pass. "About the only inconvenience is I get home about 15 or 20 minutes later than I used to, but you get used to that,” Spaulding said. The environment wasn’t Spaulding’s main concern when he started taking the bus. He said he was thinking more about his wallet. But he likes the idea that he is doing something to help. "Oklahoma City is not very walkable,” Spaulding said. "You kind of have to go out of your way to catch a bus or alternative transportation.” While the bus may not be a viable option for everyone, Spaulding said thousands of people could probably make a small change in their routine, which would add up to a big change for air quality in Oklahoma City. "I think if people knew the effect of just taking the bus one day a week, it would reduce the ozone levels drastically,” Spaulding said.