2019 January CityScape

OKC Streetcar debuts in December 2018

The Oklahoma City Streetcar, a voter-approved project funded by the MAPS 3 program, celebrated its grand opening in December 2018 after 21 months of construction and testing. The OKC Streetcar, which covers 5.1 miles with two routes throughout downtown Oklahoma City, represents a new era in local public transit. The OKC Streetcar’s two lines link Bricktown with the central business district, Automobile Alley, Midtown, Chesapeake Energy Arena, Myriad Botanical Gardens and the future MAPS 3 Scissortail Park and the downtown convention center, which are both under construction. EMBARK will operate the OKC Streetcar as part of the City’s public transit system. In addition to better connecting downtown employees and residents to other parts of the district, the streetcar offers transportation to more than 10 million visitors of downtown attractions and 1.2 million visitors of downtown events annually. The streetcar also launched with free fares for riders through the month of January. According to EMBARK estimates from early January, at least 75,000 people have already enjoyed OKC’s newest transit option. While operations just began, the tangible impact of the OKC Streetcar is already being felt in Oklahoma City. The project is considered to be an important economic development tool for future investment in downtown Oklahoma City. The streetcar sets the stage for future regional transit discussions throughout all of central Oklahoma, improves the overall walkability of downtown and encourages links to a number of different districts. According to a recently released

investment impact analysis, the OKC Streetcar also positively impacts the economic development of the region. The report, which was conducted by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and RegionTrack with input from EMBARK, the City of Oklahoma City and the Alliance for Economic Development, examines the three-block impact zone surrounding the streetcar route to better understand how construction of the fixed-route system affected investment patterns and population growth. “There can be a number of ways to measure the success of a streetcar including usage and ridership, improved access to downtown amenities, quality of life and enhanced visitor perception of our community,” said Roy H. Williams, president and CEO of the Chamber. “It is also vital to understand the investment and economic development that takes place along the route.” Within the three-block impact zone around the streetcar route, there has been more than $1.6 billion in public and private investment since 2011, the year the streetcar route was announced. In that same time frame, the area within the three-block impact zone of the streetcar route has gained about 5,700 jobs (16 percent increase from 2011- 2015), a 1.54 million square feet net increase of office space, 21 residential developments with 1,860 new housing units and seven new hotels with 833 hotel rooms. “While we recognize there are many reasons companies and individuals make investment decisions, it is undeniable that the


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