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New CNG Buses Will Replace Last Remaining Diesel Fixed-route Vehicles; Facility Design and Planning Work Will Support Expansion of Central Oklahoma’s Transit System

July 23, 2023

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded EMBARK two grants totaling more than $10 million for bus fleet upgrades and to continue design and planning work on future bus facility upgrades to support expanded transit services in Central Oklahoma.    

The first grant, worth $4.3 million, will be used by EMBARK to purchase nine new compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, replacing the last remaining diesel buses in its fixed-route fleet. This fleet upgrade is part of an ongoing initiative set by the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority (COTPA) Board of Trustees to transition to 100% alternative fuel transit fleet. The grant was awarded to EMBARK through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Bus and Bus Facilities and Low- and No-Emission (Low-No) Vehiclegrant programs. EMBARK’s grant request was one of 130 projects across the U.S. selected to receive funding.  

The second, a $5.8 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant from USDOT, was awarded through a competitive selection process to EMBARK for its OKC Moves Facilities Implementation project. The grant will support architectural design work for future expansion of EMBARK’s headquarters to support growing transit services in the Oklahoma City metro areaThe grant will also fund a long-range study looking at ways to improve EMBARK’s downtown Transit Center, which is nearly 20 years old.EMBARK’s project was one of only 162 selected from more than 1,000 submitted nationwide.  

“EMBARK has been very successful in bringing home these competitive federal grants because we nominate visionary projects with strong community support, EMBARK Assistant Director – Administration Suzanne Wickenkamp said. “We really appreciate Central Oklahoma’s business and nonprofit community and elected leaders from the local, state, and federal level lending their voice in support of public transit.”  

EMBARK began investing in alternative fuel vehicles and operating facilities in 2016, after the COTPA Board of Trustees approved a plan to replace the entire diesel bus fleet with CNG or electric buses. This federal grant, along with other secured funding, will allow EMBARK to retire the last remaining diesel buses in the next four years 

The OKC Moves Facilities Implementation project funded by the RAISE grant includes completion of architectural designfor expanding EMBARK’s headquarters, which includes administration, maintenance, and bus operations. The agency’s current facility will not be able to sustain the anticipated growth over the coming years.  

“With the launch of RAPID NW this fall and two additional Bus Rapid Transit lines  through MAPS 4 we must modernize and expand our facilities and begin planning the future of the downtown Transit Center,” EMBARK Assistant Director – Operations Jesse Rush said. “The design and planning work funded by this RAISE Grant will put us in a good position to compete for construction funding in the future.” 

Modernization of EMBARK’s facilities will support implementation of the transit service improvements recommended in the OKC Moves Bus Study, a long-range plan to improve and expand transit service in Central Oklahoma. The first phase of OKC Moves service changes, scheduled to launch in December 2023, will improve efficiency and on-time performance of the fixed-route bus system, extend bus service to some new areas, and incorporate RAPID NW into the transit network.  


EMBARK is the business unit of the Central Oklahoma Transportation & Parking Authority (COTPA) – a public trust administered by the City of Oklahoma City. EMBARK's vision is to be world-class transportation that is accessible to all, and all want to access it. EMBARK's mission is to be a self-sustaining transportation network that removes barriers of location and socioeconomic status, while elevating the status and use of public transportation so all of central Oklahoma can safely and quickly reach their destination. 

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