I just made the round-trip bus trip to OKC from Edmond aboard the Edmond Citylink bus. The city of Edmond-funded service makes 10 round trips to OKC from Edmond daily. I frequently ride the service and, while I enjoy the free-to-rider-service, it always leaves me wanting more. I also just returned from London, where I did not use an automobile for almost a month. This makes me wonder if a commuter rail service from Edmond to Norman through OKC, with spurs to Tinker AFB and Will Roger’s Airport, would make economic sense for the OKC metropolitan area. As it turns out, I am not the only one wondering.
The Regional Transportation Authority of Central Oklahoma is a regional, independent governmental agency established in 2019 under the laws of the state of Oklahoma. The originating city councils from each member city (Edmond, Midwest City, Del City, Moore, Norman, Oklahoma City), created the regional authority by resolution.
The RTA has the responsibility for developing, funding, construction, implementing, operating, and maintaining transportation projects located within the boundaries of the regional transportation district. The directors meet in a public meeting on the third Wednesday of each month.
The Edmond-Oklahoma City-Norman route is emerging as a priority for regional transit after the authority recently lost three of its original members: Midwest City, Del City, and Moore. The three remaining anchors are the ones deemed by some as being critical to the commuter rail effort going forward. In fact, this effort is in the running for a $ 100 million federal grant to use in planning and implementing the project as part of the Federal Transportation Administration’s New Start Project.
The RTA has done its homework and we are set up perfectly to obtain this grant. Economic impact figures collected by Kimley Horn for the transit authority show the Edmond-to-Norman commuter rail would result in travel time savings totaling $ 200 million, a 25 million reduction in vehicle miles traveled on roads, and a $ 900 million economic benefit. Secondly, studies show the commuter rail would increase the demand and traffic on Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer which would make the administration happy awarding the grant.
This grant, along with building support for public transportation regionally via rail, is key to getting the momentum needed. I’ll do my part. How about you?
J. David Chapman is a professor of finance and real estate at the University of Central Oklahoma (firstname.lastname@example.org).