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OKC streetcar extends free rides through February

Those visiting downtown Oklahoma City now have a faster means of transportation thanks to the completion of the Oklahoma City Streetcar. The streetcars, which officially opened Dec. 14, are free to the public thus far as part of its grand opening celebration.

Though free rides were scheduled to end Jan. 5, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt announced Jan. 4 the streetcar is free to ride through Feb. 5.

“The remarkable ridership so far demonstrates the excitement our community has for this new amenity,” Holt wrote on social media. “In just three weeks, we’ve had the opening, rain, ice and New Year’s Eve. In all of that, there really hasn’t been time for passengers and operators to experience ‘regular’ service for an extended period, and there certainly hasn’t been time to properly phase in fare collection.”

The $135 million endeavor, which was part of the Maps 3 project approved by EMBARK’s Board of Trustees, features the Downtown Loop and Bricktown Loop that link districts in and around downtown Oklahoma City. With 22 stops, the streetcars can take Oklahoma City residents and visitors to Automobile Alley, the National Memorial Museum, Midtown and the Myriad Gardens, as well as a variety of other destinations. Each streetcar is 66 feet long, 8 feet wide and painted one of three colors—Bermuda Green, Sky Blue or Redbud.

To kick off the three-week grand opening celebration, a formal ceremony featuring elected and appointed officials and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation took place outside of Liberty Square. Amidst stories from those who rode the original Oklahoma streetcar more than 70 years ago, dignitaries and Golden Ticket winners boarded the first two streetcars as the “system’s first official passengers.”

“As we continue to introduce new transit options, I’m confident the entire city will find new momentum as the OKC Streetcar unites the heart of our community,” EMBARK director Jason Ferbrache said. “The OKC Streetcar truly is the ‘new neighbor on the block’ to hundreds of business owners and more than 30,000 people who live, work and explore these business, residential and entertainment districts.”

To help cyclists, motorists and pedestrians practice streetcar safety, EMBARK has put together manuals outlining the list of things to know when driving, walking or cycling near the streetcars, tracks and the Overhead Contact System poles.

According to the manuals, motorists should not overtake or pass any streetcar, even if it is not moving. Streetcars travel 20 miles per hour and take almost 60 feet to stop, so EMBARK advises to never cross in front of a moving streetcar and to always cross the tracks at a 90-degree angle with assisted mobility devices, skateboards and strollers.

Because “streetcars run along a designated path and come with their own safety considerations,” EMBARK said it is “important to remember they can’t improvise to accommodate common motorist mistakes.”

Officials reported that over 56,000 individuals rode the streetcar during its first two weeks of service. A Talon Twitter poll shows that 40 percent of Oklahoma Christian University student and faculty respondents plan to ride the streetcar, with 31 percent reporting they already have taken advantage of the new public transportation system.

Beginning in February, fares will be $1 for a single ride, $3 for a one-day pass (active for 24 hours), $32 for a 30-day pass and $384 for an annual pass. Children ages six and younger can ride for free. Those over the age of 65, persons with a qualifying disability, Medicare card holders and children ages 7-17 are eligible for a reduced fare at half-price of standard fees.

“From basketball games to holiday events to family entertainment options, OKC Streetcar provides a way for everyone to move throughout the heart of our city and enjoy all our downtown districts have to offer,” Ferbrache said. “Our hope is these events encourage people to learn more about parking once and then riding the streetcar or CIRC bus and incorporating it into their urban core travel plans, whether routinely or casually.”

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