OKLAHOMA CITY – The City of Oklahoma City 2015-16 fiscal year budget was approved Tuesday by the City Council and includes $29.5 million for public transit, including an additional $250,000 for system improvements. EMBARK has rolled out significant improvements to the bus system this past year, including night service on two routes, increased frequency, a journey planner, and a partnership with Google Transit and Moovit. The additional funding revs up more improvements with the expansion of night service on two more routes.
“We want to acknowledge City Council’s continued support in developing a transportation system that works for all metro residents,” said Jason Ferbrache, Public Transportation and Parking Director. “City council and our Board of Trustees are responding to our community’s needs today, while laying the groundwork for a more robust future transportation system.”
Earlier this year, EMBARK launched night service on routes 011 and 23N. Since February, those two routes have provided more than 11,000 trips to grocery stores, schools, work, entertainment and hospitals across the metro.
The additional $250,000 will extend service until midnight on slightly modified versions of routes 005 and 013 starting in early 2016. Route 005, serving areas of north Oklahoma City travels along Classen and Western between the downtown Transit Center and Memorial and provides access to Mercy Hospital, Quail Springs Mall and a diverse range of residential areas. Route 013, serving areas of south Oklahoma City, runs along Western between downtown and I-240, serves the Oklahoma City Community College, I-240 businesses, and the SW Medical Center until midnight.
“Night service is great for businesses and people who work, go to school or run errands past 7 p.m.,” said Elaine Lyons, president of the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. “Transportation will no longer be a barrier for people along these routes to get to and from work, access health care, attend night classes or shop later. It provides families with more opportunities and flexibility with employment, education and recreation, which translates to a better quality of life and more robust economy.”
The addition of night service is a continuation of service enhancements identified in a study conducted by Nelson\Nygaard, an international transit research firm hired by the City of Oklahoma City and the EMBARK board to review and make recommendations for improving the public transit system.
Last year, EMBARK launched phase one of the system enhancements to increase frequency of bus routes, reduce passenger wait time and travel time, create more direct routes and provide better access to health care and grocery stores. This year, EMBARK will launch phase two and focus on expanding service hours, creating more accessible bus shelters and making technology improvements like on-board Wi-Fi.
“Research has shown that both riders and non-riders want more frequent service, the latest technology, night service and more bus shelters,” said Ferbrache. “The improvements make our service more convenient for current riders and more attractive to those who now choose to drive every day.”
To learn more about EMBARK and view bus schedules and routes, visit www.embarkok.com or call (405) 235-RIDE (7433) for personal assistance from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. To learn more about carpooling or to be matched with someone in your area, visit www.getaroundok.com.
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