Questions & Answers
- Does this process help plan a route to Penn Square Mall?
The streetcar system will be limited to the downtown area at this point. The Alternatives Analysis is the process whereby routes could be extended in the future.
- Will the community be able to draw routes on paper during the process to show their preference?
Most definitely. At the April 13 public meeting, we will ask your input to identify potential destinations that are places in the center city that people think should be served by the streetcar. These will likely include employment centers, retail shopping, downtown residential areas, community buildings and public facilities, arts and cultural centers, transit terminals, parking garages, hotels, entertainment, parks and public spaces, and other major destinations. Criteria for determining the streetcar alignment will also be discussed. For the April 29 meeting, we will ask you to help begin delineating potential alignment, connecting destinations, and identify end points that are good terminal destinations for the starter segment. The May 11 public meeting will focus on land use and Transit Oriented Development, and the May 27 public meetings will be to present and discuss the results of the process up to that point. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Is the idea to improve transportation while downtown or to bring people downtown from other population centers in the city? – Richard Hall
The starter segment for the streetcar is meant to be a downtown circulator connecting destinations in the greater downtown area. It can be extended in the future to include other destinations. The 2006 Fixed Guideway Study envisions other high-capacity transit modes serving commuter trips in the surrounding metropolitan area to and from the center city. These would include Commuter Rail and Bus Rapid Transit routes, as well as enhanced fixed route bus service. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Why modern streetcar instead of replica? – Richard Hall
Vintage, Replica and Modern Streetcars as possible options for the downtown circulator were considered in the Fixed Guideway Study. Vintage streetcars are restored or reconstructed historic vehicles. Replica streetcars are newly constructed vehicles that look like historic vehicles. Modern streetcars were recommended because they are more accessible being low floor vehicles with wide doors and do not require wheelchair lifts. They are generally quieter, more reliable, and include more passenger amenities. Vintage or Replica vehicles and be operated on the same track and electrification system as the Modern vehicles, and cities that have developed Modern Streetcar systems often have a few historic vehicles that are operated on weekends and during special events.
The overall look of downtown is changing to become more pedestrian-friendly and dynamic. The modern streetcar was a better choice to fit in with the planned improvements in the downtown area rather than the nostalgic trolley style. Additionally, the modern streetcar provides for easier on and off for individuals with mobility impairments. (Answered by Mike McAnelly & Rick Cain)
- In your opinion, what should be the number one priority for Oklahoma City’s streetcar route (i.e. economic development, ridership, commuting, convention/tourism etc)? – Blair Humphreys
The easy answer is all of the above. Streetcars serve both mobility and economic development. The three Modern Streetcar communities with systems currently in operation have all experienced ridership in excess of their original forecasts. Economic development along the streetcar routes has also exceeded earlier expectations.
This is why these meetings are being held so the public can have a voice about what is most important to them. The public’s opinion is vital in meeting the needs of those who work/live/visit downtown. (Answered by Mike McAnelly & Rick Cain)
- When will the initial 5 miles of track be expanded? Or will it? – Richard Hall
There is no timeline for extensions. At this point we do not know the order of completion for the MAPS projects. The second thing to consider is that we do not yet know where the convention center will be, and it would seem to be a location that the streetcar should serve. The availability of federal funding will also impact the potential for an expanded program. (Answered by Rick Cain)
- Can any other power source be used, other than electric (i.e. natural gas)?
The Modern Streetcar systems currently operating in the United States are electric powered. There are other Light Rail and Commuter Rail technologies that use diesel multiple units (DMUs) with an internal combustion engine driving a generator to power electric motors in each vehicle. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Will there be advertising opportunities for businesses on the streetcar or at the hub? – Charifa Smith
There are both pros and cons when it comes to advertising, and it is a discussion that will be necessary in the future. Other cities are using advertising to help fund their streetcar systems. (Answered by Rick Cain)
- How do you plan to integrate a downtown streetcar system with commuter rail (Edmond, Norman etc) and the airport? – Walter Jenny
The Hub Study being conducted by ACOG and several municipalities will look at the feasibility and location for a multimodal transportation center serving AMTRAK inner city passenger rail, potential future Commuter Rail and High Speed Passenger Rail service, potential future Bus Rapid Transit service, the Streetcar downtown circulator, fixed route buses, shuttles and taxis. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Will the system be publicly or privately operated? – Mike Mize
It is anticipated that it will be publicly operated. (Answered by Rick Cain)
- What is the structure of decision making (council, MAPS oversight subcommittee, Alternative Analysis, public input) – How will these committees work together?
As input is gathered, it will be shared with the MAPS Advisory Committee and its subcommittees. The other group that is involved is the Alternatives Analysis citizen advisory group who will work with COTPA Trustees in making recommendations. It is important to note that when using MAPS sales tax money, it is ultimately a City Council decision. (Answered by Rick Cain)
- Do you anticipate the system will use “smart” technology, whereby anticipated vehicle arrival times will be displayed at each stop? – Mike Mize
Yes, we anticipate that the streetcar stations/stops will include electronic signs showing the remaining time in minutes before the next streetcar will arrive. Geographic Positioning System technology is used to monitor the movement and location of the streetcars along the route. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Is Mag-lev a good option? – Sam Sims
Mag-Lev would be more appropriate for high speed passenger rail service serving longer inner city trips. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Is the existing union contract with COTPA, the City of Oklahoma City or ACOG? – Grant Humphreys
It is currently with COTPA. (Answered by Rick Cain)
- As a Deep Deuce business owner and resident, we would love a streetcar stop to service our concentration of residents and businesses. How can a district make their intentions known? Will a district be able to decide (have input) on pole art? – Charifa Smith
Recommendations from individuals or groups, such as neighborhood or district associations, are part of the process. Ultimately, the decisions about routes will be made based on the public input which is presented to the City Council. (Answered by Rick Cain)
- When will the routes be determined? – Harry Wilson
The potential streetcar alignments identified by the community in this series of seven public meetings will be considered by the COTPA Steering Committee for the Downtown Circulator Alternatives Analysis, and also by the MAPS Oversight Board, and ultimately by the Mayor and City Council to determine the routes for the Starter Segment of the MAPS Streetcar. Because of the need to determine how the streetcar routes will impact Project 180, we hope that this can be achieved within the next 90 to 120 days. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- What are the exact benefits/improvements of the modern streetcar compared to the historic/replica streetcar? – Mark Gibbs
- Low floor vehicles not requiring a wheelchair lift or high platforms at stations for ADA access
- Wide doors at multiple locations on both sides of the Modern Streetcar vehicles
- Generally higher capacity for passengers seated and standing, although the restored Historic PCC vehicle, where available, can approach the same capacity as Modern Streetcars
- Availability of spare parts
- Maintainability and reliability of components
- Climate controlled interior with HVAC equipment designed to operate in Oklahoma’s weather, both summer and winter (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- At what point will we know the limitations on possible routes (i.e. - topographic, grade, engineering), and have citizen input on possible routes?
Desired destinations, constraints information and potential alignments will be topics discussed and input provided at the April 13 and April 29 public meetings. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Are we focused on immediate ridership or future development? – Sam Sims
Both are important objectives. Economic development may be more of an initial objective, but growth in transit ridership is also an important long range goal.
Both. It is a tool that not only provides mobility, but it also has important economic impact. (Answered by Mike McAnelly & Rick Cain)
- Would the existing north/south railroad tracks limit a streetcar from traveling east to west, either at street level or passing beneath the existing rail tracks? – Richard Bishop
Perhaps. Crossing the freight rail tracks at grade should be avoided. The limited vertical clearance at the existing underpasses will be considered in the design of the Streetcar tracks and catenary power system. Options might be to lower the street pavement elevation passing beneath the railroad bridge, restrict a lane for streetcars only, or create a new grade separation such as the planned Boulevard. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- How will the streetcar connect with METRO Transit bus routes?
Yes. Streetcar stops and bus stops should be in close proximity to one another, and might be shared. The bus routes are important as feeders to the streetcar, and bus ridership is likely to increase because of more riders using buses to come downtown because of the streetcar. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Let’s see, we are considering a trolley scheme Oklahoma City abandoned some 30 years ago. 750 volts overhead and buried tracks which are hostile to bike traffic we are trying to encourage. How about rubber tired, compressed natural gas/hybrid where the routes can be adjusted by the market place?
Oklahoma City like most every other US community has a streetcar heritage that shaped their growth and development. With the emergence of the automobile as the dominant transportation mode, the historical streetcar systems fell into a state of disrepair and were abandoned as ridership declined. Rubber-tired circulators including CNG or hybrid buses were among the alternative modes considered in the Fixed Guideway Study. Experience in other communities operating Modern or Vintage/Replica streetcar systems shows that the streetcar is very compatible with cyclists and pedestrians. Streetcars share the roadway with bike lanes located in other lanes or crossing the streetcar. Bikeways and streetcar tracks do not share the same lane, as the flangeways pose a hazard to cyclists. Crossing the tracks at a right angle, or as close to a right angle as possible, is the safe course for cyclists. Right angle crossings and high skid resistance paving adjacent to the rails minimizes the risk of wheels being deflected on contact with the rails. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- When the mayor spoke to my group he indicated that the streetcar may be one of the projects to take the longest to come to existence. Has this changed with respect to coordinate with Project 180? What is the estimated time for the project now?
In order to try to maximize potential cost savings and minimize disruption when the streetcar is built COTPA is trying to determine whether the streets identified to be addressed in the first phase of Project 180 are likely to be streets upon which the streetcar route will travel. The actual timing of when the streetcar will begin construction will be determined by the City Council upon recommendation by the MAPS 3 Advisory committee. As yet no date has been set as to when those discussions will begin. (Answered by Rick Cain)
- You did not identify Dallas’ system (DART) as a streetcar. Why isn’t that a streetcar?
DART is a Light Rail system, operating in a separated fixed guideway, often elevated, with longer routes, and longer spacing and higher operating speed between stations. DART is currently studying the feasibility of a downtown streetcar system. The McKinney Avenue Transportation Authority (MATA) in Dallas owns and operates the McKinney Avenue Streetcars, which uses restored historic vintage vehicles. The MATA operators and much of the system maintenance is provided by volunteers. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Does the City plan to formulate a downtown parking policy as it defines the route for the urban streetcar? – Grant Humphreys
There will need to be consideration of how to accommodate visitors who park their private vehicles downtown to utilize the streetcar and how to also serve the downtown business interests. (Answered by Rick Cain)
- What will estimated fare be?
The streetcar fare has not been determined yet. The streetcar fare might be similar to bus fares. A seamless fare system could allow riders to pay one fare for trips on buses and streetcars. Portland has a “free fare” zone in its downtown area. (Answered by Mike McAnelly & Rick Cain)
- How will your ADA accessible streetcar interface with other transit services with respect to ADA ridership? – Pam Henry
ADA compatibility is required for both streetcar and bus transit services. (Answered by Mike McAnelly & Rick Cain)
- What is the trade-off between “route miles” and headway frequency? – Mark Gibbs
The longer the route, the more vehicles are required to maintain a desired headway or frequency between streetcars arriving at stations/stops. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Has there been any thought given to the historical streetcar routes seen in Oklahoma City 50-100 years ago? – Grant Humphreys
There is no predisposed position regarding the use of those routes. The routes will be determined using public input. (Answered by Rick Cain)
- On what Project 180 corridors are the potential impacts of streetcars requiring additional design and/or engineering analysis? – Jonathan Dodson
All of the corridors have been impacted by the streetcar project and accommodations are being made. (Answered by Mike McAnelly & Rick Cain)
- What do you mean by double track miles?
A Streetcar system may be single tracked or double tracked, or a combination of both at different segments along the route. Single track is used by streetcars operating in both directions. Double track is used as a one-way loop system, with streetcars going one direction on one track and returning in the opposite direction on the other track. Double track is more desirable for safety, efficiency and usability. Single track may be used for short distances or low traffic segments, but requires positive train control and passing tracks may be needed. Double tracks may run along either side of an individual street or boulevard, or run along two parallel streets in a couplet configuration. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Why not a replica/historical streetcar? What are the advantages of the modern streetcar?
See question 4 and 17.
- I was in Zurich recently and those streetcars did not have catenary cables, all the ones you talked about did. Why? – Chris Salyer
Zurich has several different models of electric powered trams with overhead catenary wires. In Nice, France, there is a unique electrified rail streetcar route, where the track is electrified only for a portion of the rail directly under the passing streetcar vehicle. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- What about alternative fuels like natural gas? – Chris Salyer
See question 7.
- What are the physical constraints on crossing the BNSF tracks and I-235 to reach the Health Sciences Center? – Mark Gibbs
The streetcar should not cross the freight rail tracks at grade. Existing grade separations such as the Harrison overpass could be the alignment for streetcars crossing over I-235. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- Based on the success in Portland, in Oklahoma City for whom should we focus on as riders first – tourists, residents or workers? – Alan Loeffler
All three groups will be important customers to serve. Downtown workers and residents will likely provide the bulk of ridership. Tourists will add to ridership during the midday, in evenings and on weekends. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- For clarity, if all of Oklahoma City’s 5-6 miles is double tracked, does that mean that we’re really looking at 2.5-3 miles? – Doug Loudenback
Yes, that is correct. Portland, Seattle and Tacoma all began with starter segments that were shorter than this distance. (Answered by Mike McAnelly)
- What are the estimated charges to ride? – Lynn Goldberg
See question 26.
- Can streetcars without overhead wire be considered, or better yet, sleek buses on rubber tires that stop at well established waiting areas to give it permanence? - Renale Wiggin
Currently electric streetcars utilizing overhead wires are being discussed as that is the only proven streetcar technology in use. At this point neither the MAPS 3 Advisory Committee nor the City Council has discussed the implementation schedule for each of the projects. It is possible by the time the streetcar is given the go ahead other proven streetcar technologies may be available and a decision can be made at that time. The City Council could also decide to go with a technology that is not widely used recognizing the potential risk that would entail.
During the MAPS 3 campaign presentations were made describing the modern streetcar as operating on steel rails. Expansions beyond the initial MAPS 3 system are being considered as part of the federally mandated Alternatives Analysis study that is underway. The study is required if Oklahoma City is going to compete for future federal funding. The Alternatives Analysis will provide for a broader scope of transportation options including rubber tire vehicles that would connect to the streetcar line.
- How will flooding (especially in dug underpasses) impair streetcar operations?
Design of the streetcar system will include storm drainage improvements to avoid flooding of the underpasses, where needed. Stormwater drainage is provided for surface runoff from the track and pavement along the streetcar rail alignment. Positive drainage is provided by sloping the pavement surfaces with embedded rails to convey surface runoff to gutters and storm drain inlets along the roadway. In areas where positive surface drainage is not possible, such as underpasses, inlets are located between the rails with subsurface drainage pipe connecting to the underground drainage system.
- How will electric power outages (during ice and lightning storms) impair streetcar operations?
The traction power for the streetcar uses a system of electric substations spaced approximately every half mile along the streetcar line. The power capacity and size of substations varies depending on system requirements. An underground feeder system distributes electricity from the substation through feeder poles connected to the contact wire. The parallel feeder cable typically runs in underground conduit with tap wires extending inside feeder poles and connecting to the overhead contact wire to transfer current to the vehicles. Feeder poles are typically spaced at intervals of 90 to 270 feet. During ice and snow storms, continuous operation is the best way to avoid icing on the rails and contact wire, in conjunction with plowing of the shared trackway.
- What provisions will be taken to maintain service during such disruptions (see previous question)?
In case of a system-wide power outage, the vehicles use onboard battery power to move to a safe location until power is restored. Experience in Portland and Seattle shows the streetcar to be very reliable.
- To be sure I understood correctly, for the N/S options several pairs of options are shown. Is it correct that each pair would be connected at its "end" points to form a loop?
Yes, the conceptual options show different alignment alternatives using different streets. The N-S and E-W options that can be combined to form a network of north-south and east-west pairs. The one-way tracks would be joined with special trackwork at crossings and at the end-of-line stations where the streetcars reverse their direction of travel.
- Has access for ADA patrons (including those who use three or four wheelers to get around when they can no longer walk) been considered?
Modern streetcar vehicles have low floors, so they achieve ADA compliant "level-boarding" by simply providing a moveable bridge plate or ramp between the vehicle and the curb at stops. Push-button activated electric ramps are typically provided at one door on each side of the streetcar vehicle. The curb and sidewalk adjacent to that door are elevated to a platform height of 10.5 inches. The platform height typically tapers down to a normal curb height of 6 inches along rest of the streetcar stop length. The platform area is a continuous unobstructed paving in a bulb-out area with continuous access to the adjacent sidewalk. The station profile varies to suit the sidewalk profile. Ramps are provided where necessary. Signs contain raised Braille characters are provided for visually impaired passengers.
- Regarding N/S and E/W options - All the options you presented were spaced 1 - 2 blocks apart. If people are willing to walk 2-3 blocks to get to the streetcar (as indicated in the survey), why wouldn't the spacing be greater and cover a larger area?
The spacing between a pair of one-way tracks affects the public's perception of how to use of the streetcar system. When the two tracks are aligned along opposite sides of a single street or boulevard, riders easily learn to board at the stops on opposite sides of the street for inbound vs. outbound trips. Spacing the one-way tracks one to two blocks apart provides a wider service area for the streetcar system. A three block separation might be acceptable in some situations. With a one or two block separation between the inbound and outbound tracks, the system is still readily perceived as a linear route, where passengers walk to one station for an inbound trip or to an opposite station a block or two away to travel outbound. Longer spacing separating the one-way tracks by more than three blocks gives a different perception, causing passengers to see it as a loop system and riding around the loop to reach their destination (or just walk if it is perceived as faster than riding around the loop). While people are typically willing to walk 2-3 blocks from the streetcar to their destination (or vice versa), the distance between inbound and outbound stations is desirably not more than one or two blocks.
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