- Cathy O’Connor
OKC Streetcar Delivers Success, Prosperity
After more than a decade of discussion, planning, design and construction, the OKC Streetcar began service December 14 with a huge celebration and large crowd cheering the momentous occasion. More than 20,000 trips were taken on the streetcar in its inaugural weekend, many by people who said they don’t typically visit downtown or had no idea there were so many restaurants and businesses along the routes.
The timing of the launch was right in many ways. Oklahoma City is ready for more public transportation options, both to alleviate traffic congestion and parking demand and to satisfy an increased demand for public transit. There is an increasing desire for walkability in downtown and among the city’s districts. Coincidentally, the ribbon cutting took place on the 25th Anniversary of the day of the vote on the original MAPS program - a reminder of how far our city has come and our success in making historic and visionary changes.
A Modern Take
The state's first trolley car system in Oklahoma City operated from 1902 until 1947. The original plan called for a four-mile double-track loop around downtown, but by 1903, lines were extended as far north as 13th Street and as far east as Stiles Park. It radiated out from a central terminal at what is now Sheridan and Hudson and represented miles of rail, even connecting to nearby cities including El Reno, Guthrie and Norman. By 1916, the overall system totaled 138.2 miles. The new streetcar has two route options: the 4.8 mile ‘Downtown Loop’ and 2 mile ‘Bricktown Loop” giving riders access to several districts such as Automobile Alley, Midtown and Bricktown.
Driving Economic Development
The economic parallels between the old and modern streetcars are striking. Nearly a century ago, developers built along the streetcar route hoping to capitalize on riders working downtown or visiting stores and restaurants. Many of our historic neighborhoods are along the former route.
The OKC Streetcar brings those same economic opportunities. Since 2011, there has been more than $1.6 billion in public and private investment along the streetcar route and taxable market value of properties around the streetcar route has already increased more than three times the rate of citywide properties. The streetcar provides more alternative transportation to navigate downtown, but it brings more than transit, it brings economic development, prosperity and a sense of community. along route.
For more information about the OKC Streetcar, including fares, routes and special events visit okcstreetcar.com.