Oklahoma City’s proposed downtown streetcar will be built with $130 million of tax payer money approved by voters in 2010, but that does not include the money it will take to operate the system and transit and city officials are considering a variety of options.
“We are only going to have the cash to build it, that doesn’t fund the operation of it at all,” Michael Scroggins, the public information officer for the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority, said in a special report published on this blog earlier this month. “That still is a locally made decision that we are gong to have to look at, the city is going to have to fund that, as it stands right now, out of the local general share budget of Oklahoma City.”
A variety of options are being considered on how to fund the operation of the proposed seven-mile line but the fares collected from riders would not be enough, if they were collected at all.
“We are looking at the possibility of making the (streetcar) free to riders,” Zane Boatright, vice chair of the streetcar committee said in an interview with OKC Uptowner. “It’s actually expensive to charge people a fare because of the equipment that’s involved. One option is to make the line free.”
While the specific funding source for the streetcar’s operation is unknown, the city expects the economic development spurred by the project to help offset the cost. In a presentation to the Oklahoma City city council this month, transit officials said construction on the streetcar could begin as soon as 2014 with the first phase of the line running by 2021.
A more detailed route proposal was also submitted to the city council and City Public Works Director Eric Wenger said other details of the project have not been finalized as the city continues to determine how the streetcar line will fit in with other transit and business developments.
“We have not selected things like track types or the power system for the car,” Wenger said in a NewsOK article. “So there’s a lot of planning we can do with ODOT at this point making sure we don’t put ourselves into a corner, but at the same time we’ve got to wait for some of the consulting to occur so that we know exactly what it is that we’re going to construct.”