In 2009 Oklahoma City voters passed MAPS 3. Thanks to the hard work of the volunteers of MTP, a modern streetcar system was included in the MAPS3 slate of projects.
In the time since MAPS 3 was passed, there has been an ongoing discussion regarding the future route of the streetcar. First with the Let’s Talk Transit series of public input meetings and the Alternative Analysis process, and later followed up by the MAPS3 streetcar subcommittee. Even the local internet message board was involved. The most common theme that emerged from these conversations is that there is no perfect route. Due to the spread-out nature of the downtown districts, adequately serving each one is difficult, if not impossible. The final route would have to be a compromise between access, legibility, ridership, and economic development potential.
As a problem-solver by nature and training, I couldn’t resist joining the streetcar route dialog. The concept described and illustrated below is based on an idea I posted earlier in the summer. Like many of the myriad of proposed solutions, this idea is not perfect. Many details would still need to be worked out. However, the strength of this system is its ability to effectively meet immediate demands while providing flexibility and expandability for future needs.
The proposed system consists of a centralized, one-way circulator loop with multiple branch lines extending into the various inner-city districts and neighborhoods. Each streetcar line would travel from its respective terminus along its branch line to the loop. The streetcar would then travel around the loop and return along its branch line to its terminus. In the MAPS 3-funded initial phases, there would be three different lines operating around the loop and on three short branches. Each line would travel its branch at a reasonable frequency; however, as the lines converged around the loop, the frequency would increase significantly resulting in better service. As these lines are extended and new lines are added, the streetcar service would improve in both area coverage and frequency of service in the densest part of the city. Overall, this concept creates a usable starter system that functions as a basic circulator while providing a logical framework for future expansion. If this concept seems familiar, it is because it is patterned after another successful public transit system–the Chicago Loop.
The loop portion of the system would be a single, one-way track that would encircle the central business district and connect several important destinations and modes of travel:
- Santa Fe station (the future hub for all metro, intercity, and high-speed rail)
- The National Memorial
- The existing bus transit center (this center is the terminal point for nearly all current bus routes)
- The civic/arts complex
- The MAPS 3 convention center
- The MAPS 3 Central Park
- The Chesapeake Energy Arena
In addition to the central loop the following branch lines would be a part of the first phase:
- Red Line. The Red Line would be a bi-directional, single-track line on Reno Ave. serving Bricktown. A future extension would serve the Boathouse District via Byers Ave.
- Blue Line. The Blue Line would be a double-tracked line on Broadway serving Automobile Alley as far north as 11th.
- Yellow Line. The Yellow Line would be a double-tracked line on Walker Ave. terminating just before the traffic circle at NW 10th serving Midtown. A future extension of both double and single tracks ould serve the Plaza District via Classen Drive, NW 13th, Classen Blvd. and NW 16th. This extension would also link the near northwest neighborhoods of Gatewood and Classen-Ten-Penn.
- Green Line. The Green Line would be a double-tracked line on NE 4th and Lincoln Blvd. serving Deep Deuce and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. A future extension would serve the Capitol complex and government buildings via the Lincoln Blvd. loop around the complex. This extension would also link the streetcar system to a high-frequency bus route on 23rd Street.
- Purple Line. The Purple Line would be a double and single-tracked line along Walker Ave. serving Heritage Hills and Uptown and linking the streetcar system to a high-frequency bus route on 23rd Street. A future extension would serve the Paseo. This extension would also link the near north neighborhoods of the Paseo, Jefferson Park, and Edgemere Park.
- Orange Line. The Orange Line would be a double and single-tracked line on Sheridan Ave., Classen Blvd., and Exchange Ave. serving Film Row and the Farmers Market District. A future extension would serve Stockyards City. This extension would also link neighborhoods to the south of the Oklahoma River and to the high-frequency bus routes on Classen Blvd. and Pennsylvania Ave.
- Pink Line. The Pink Line would be a double-tracked line on NE 4th serving near east neighborhoods. A future double and single-tracked extension would serve additional neighborhoods and link the streetcar system to a high-frequency bus route on 23rd Street.
- Light Blue Line. The Light Blue Line would be a double and single-tracked line on Walker Ave. serving the Core-to-Shore areas. A future extension would serve Capitol Hill and link the streetcar system to a future airport rail line.
- Light Green Line. The Light Green Line would be a double and single-tracked line on NW 4th and Linwood Blvd serving the Linwood neighborhood. The line would also link the streetcar system to high-frequency bus routes on Classen Blvd., Pennsylvania Ave., and NW 10th.
Graphic System Map
(click for larger image)