‘Watch-Out’ Video: Where Mass Transit Is Headed in Central Oklahoma

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Video by Ilea Shutler.

At the Oklahoma Watch-Out public forum Tuesday, three leaders in mass transit in central Oklahoma talked about current challenges, future plans and whether more Oklahomans will be willing to ride buses and trains.

Oklahoma Watch Executive Editor David Fritze moderated the forum featuring Jason Ferbrache,administrator of the Central Oklahoma Parking and Transit Authority; Danny O’Connor, director of transportation planning for the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, and Lauren Branch, former chair of the Oklahoma Alliance for Public Transportation and executive director of NewView Oklahoma, which assists the blind.

  • Ferbrache’s response to Fritze’s all-too-typically loaded question inescapably reveals a man who either hasn’t thought about the issue much – or who is “in on the deal” (I’ve seen plenty of apparently pre-planned, pre-scripted conferences on the subject. I can also tell you what happens to citizen leaders who refuse to participate in such subversion.) “Will many more Oklahomans want to give up their cars and ride bus or train…” might well have been written by the likes of Meg Salyer, Neal McCaleb, Gary Ridley – or any number of local Chamber of Commerce types who’ve irrevocably hitched their receipts wagons to automobile sales.

    Who said ANYTHING about “giving up your car?” Where did that come from? Have Fritze and Ferbrache noticed the constantly expanding suburban park-and-ride lots surrounding cities like Dallas, Denver and Salt Lake? (Daily riders – by the hundreds and thousands – drive their cars from home to strategic train stations and ride from there. Their personal cars are part of the system.)

    Perhaps Fritze has never heard the essential ideas behind multimodal / intermodal transportation. If he’d studied the issue a little more closely (or at all) he might begin to understand the folly of OKC’s all-too-predictable “destroy PERFECT OKC Union Station’s rail plant / claim that you’re gonna build a metropolitan transit center at the old downtown Santa Fe depot – with no room for parking, no room for bus / truck / automobile interface with trains – actually very little room for transit trains, and all as part of a hyper-expensive “modern streetcar” scheme that actually calls for “narrowing EK Gaylord Blvd in front of the station to accommodate the streetcars….”

    If you’re going to get useful answers, you might want to start by asking informed questions of people who might be counted on to be familiar enough with the relevant questions to give worthwhile answers.

    I didn’t see any of that in this Q&A session. Not one bit.

    I particularly like the thought that “the beatings will continue in higher numbers until morale improves.” As if the idea that “the problem is that Central Oklahomans don’t use the region’s truly terrible bus service enough to encourage creation of a real transit system” might somehow conceivably make even the tiniest bit of sense.

    Then there’s O’Connor’s amazing insistence that “local city governments have been talking at a high level since 2009.”

    In fact – 2009 marked only the final defeat of a small group of private citizens who had fought ODOT, OKC government and the OKC Chamber for more than a decade for the preservation of OKC Union Station’s magnificent 12-track-wide, 8-block-long, at-grade rail passenger yard. I led that fight – and I know what I’m talking about.