Bus rapid transit promises new opportunities
It’s exciting to see the station construction along the route for the Northwest Bus Rapid Transit (Rapid NW) that will speed connectivity along the corridor between downtown Oklahoma City and the Lake Hefner area. The new transit project is scheduled to open in the fall of 2023 and already is stimulating development along the 9.5-mile route.
Bus rapid transit will provide a premium transit service to OKC residents through faster and more frequent service with nine new CNG buses, 30 stations located near medical centers, commercial centers, and denser neighborhoods. RAPID NW will operate “out and back” from downtown Oklahoma City, Classen Boulevard, Northwest Expressway and the Lake Hefner area.
The Alliance has been working with Embark and the city of Oklahoma City to plan best uses of private development, public investment, revitalization and land use redevelopment opportunities along the northwest corridor. We’re exploring how to tailor property and sales taxes, development impact fees, business improvement districts, tax increment financing, and other options to encourage the development this part of Oklahoma City needs.
Transit-oriented development plans compact, mixed-use development around transit stops. Planning ensures that housing, retail, convenience and grocery stores, restaurants and offices can be found near the transit stops so that residents can live within walking distance of a transit stop and have access to employment, goods and services, ideally without needing a car. That type of a plan – compact, connected and coordinated – has shown to have multiple benefits including growing the tax base, increasing pedestrian traffic, reducing congestion and road maintenance costs, and encouraging business growth and new jobs. According to the American Public Transit Association, residential property values near transit stops performed 42% better than homes not near public transportation during the last recession.
As a part of the MAPS 4 Transit project, Embark is collecting input and hosting community listening sessions to gain input on how BRT should be implemented in the northeast and south areas of the city. Citizens can take the survey at www.maps4brt.com or attend a public listening session Jan. 26 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Capitol Hill Library.
The public engagement phase is a critical step in understanding residents’ needs and their access to resources. The resulting plan will help reduce travel costs and sprawl and enhance economic activity in every area of our city.