A local bus in downtown Oklahoma City. Credit: Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Watch will hold a free public forum on Dec. 15 that features discussion of the future of mass transit in central Oklahoma, including expansion plans, sources of funding and whether more Oklahomans are willing to cut back on driving and instead take a bus or train.

The “Oklahoma Watch-Out” forum will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at Kamp’s 1910 Café, located at 10 N.E. 10th Street in Oklahoma City.

Featured guests will be:

> Jason Ferbrache, administrator of the Central Oklahoma Parking and Transit Authority and director of Oklahoma City’s Public Transportation and Parking Department.

> Danny O’Connor, director of transportation planning for the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments.

> Lauren Branch, former chairman of the Oklahoma Alliance for Public Transportation and executive director of NewView Oklahoma, a charity that assists the blind.

By all measures, public transportation in Oklahoma’s largest urban area (and in the Tulsa area) lags that of its peers. Bus service is relatively thin. There is no light rail or commuter rail. No funding mechanism for regional transit is in place. Yet in recent years an effort to improve public transit has picked up pace, with a streetcar project and night bus service in Oklahoma City and better systems in some suburban communities. Where does the metro area go from here? Are taxpayers willing to pay for a regional transit system? Will people of all income levels become riders?

Oklahoma Watch Executive Editor David Fritze will moderate the discussion, and the audience is invited to ask questions. Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP to events@oklahomawatch.org.

Jason Ferbrache

Jason Ferbrache (pronounced Fair-Brush) is the administrator of the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority, dba Embark, which provides bus, ferry transit, bike share and downtown parking solutions in the Greater Oklahoma City area. As administrator, Ferbrache oversees a multi-modal transit agency that provides more than 3 million passengers trips annually and a downtown parking system that parked more than 1 million downtown workers, residents and visitors in fiscal 2015.

Ferbrache earned a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford and most recently served as the deputy budget director for the City of Oklahoma City. He is a former member of the Institute for Publically Engaged Governing’s Trailblazer program and a member of the American Public Transportation Association, Southwest Transit Association and board member of the Oklahoma Transit Association.

Danny O’Connor

As director of transportation and planning services for ACOG, Danny O’Connor leads the organization’s transportation planning team in developing the 2040 metropolitan transportation plan for central Oklahoma and helping advance the area’s regional transit discussion. He is also a member of the board of visitors for the University of Oklahoma division of regional and city planning and of the executive committee of the Urban Land Institute Oklahoma.

Previously, O’Connor was director of planning and special services for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, which is the regional transit authority of Greater Kansas City.

An Oklahoma City native, O’Connor earned a master’s degree in regional and city planning from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s of arts in sociology and philosophy from Regis University.

Lauren Branch

Lauren Branch has been with NewView Oklahoma, formerly the Oklahoma League for the Blind, for 17 years. A native of Houston, Branch received her bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration from Texas A&M University in 1986. She is a certified public accountant.

Branch is the former chairman of the Oklahoma Alliance for Public Transportation and currently serves as a member of the ACOG citizens advisory committee and Regional Transit Dialog 2 steering committee. Branch is a member of the advisory board for the Lesley Walls Low Vision Clinic at Northeastern State University, the board of VisionServe Alliance and the board of the National Industries for the Blind, where she chairs the budget and finance committees. She is a member of the Downtown Rotary Club, Leadership Oklahoma City, Class XXVIII and Leadership Oklahoma Class XXVII.

During 2015-2016, Oklahoma Watch-Out forums are being enabled by a grant from the Kirkpatrick Foundation, a private family foundation located in Oklahoma City.

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