Need to travel through downtown Oklahoma City? You’ve certainly got options. From electric scooters, Spokies bike-share, Embark public transit buses, and more, downtown OKC features lots of ways to get around.
With the debut of the OKC Streetcar in mid-December, it’s safe to say these 67-foot-long pink, green, and blue vehicles that were 10 years in the making are now the new kids in town. And, with easy-to-purchase fares and 22 separate stops, they likely are one of the most convenient ways to get from point A to B along the streetcars’ routes, or loops.
Those using the Rose State College’s Innovation Station to cowork or host meetings in the heart of downtown OKC are likely to take advantage of the recently debuted transportation system, especially since a pickup and drop-off location sits just around the corner at Century Center (Robinson and Sheridan avenues).
Below you’ll find some tips from Embark – the provider of several public transit options, including the city’s bus system, Spokies, and the OKC Streetcar – to help OKC travelers navigate the new streetcars and #LoveTheLoops.
How to ride
Ready to ride? Step one is to plan ahead, says Michael Scroggins, Embark’s manager of marketing, customer relations, and technology. Know where you’re going to board the streetcar and what destinations you’re heading to.
“We’ve got 22 stops, and they’re spread out over a large area for a streetcar,” Scroggins said. “They travel to several types of districts that have a lot of different restaurants, a lot of different flavors, and a lot of different destinations within each one. The great thing is we can connect you to all of them, so you can park once, get on the streetcar, and spend the rest of the day enjoying every district if you want to.”
He’s got a few more tips to ensure a smooth ride:
Purchase your fare:Pay for your fare using the Token Transit app, or pay at any of the 22platforms using only coins or a credit card – no bills. A streetcar attendant may ask to see the pay stub printed from the platform vending machine, or proof of purchase on your cell phone.
Keep your pets at home: The OKC Streetcar is available for service animals only.
Watch the digital displays: Digital displays on the front of the streetcar (visible from the outside) will alert riders which loop they’re about to embark on. Digital displays within the streetcar will signal the next stop, and digital displays at each of the 22 platforms will keep riders informed of at least the next three arrival times for each loop. Remember: The loops and streetcars are not color-coded; pink, green, and blue streetcars can operate on any given loop.
Speak to the operator: Four buttons in each section of the streetcar allow riders to speak to the streetcar operator, if needed.
Store your bike: If you’re boarding with a bike, carry it onto the streetcar and place it onto one of the many bike hooks located throughout.
Practice streetcar etiquette: Although anyone may use the middle car, the middle car’s purpose is for priority seating for the elderly, those with disabilities, those with babies, etc. If you’re sitting in priority seating when someone who needs a seat boards, get up and offer it to them without them having to ask. If you’re wearing a backpack, take it off your back and hold it next to you to take up less space.
Food and drink: Keep food and drink in closed containers. As Scroggins says, “There are so many great eateries, we want to make sure you can take it home with you. We just ask that you don’t eat on the streetcar.” Same goes with drinks. Feel free to grab a coffee at one of downtown OKC’s great coffee shops and hop on the streetcar;just keep the lid on!
Stop the streetcar: Look for the blue “stop” buttons throughout the streetcar and push one when your stop is next. Yellow door buttons will also request a stop (don’t worry –those buttons only open the door when the streetcar has come to a complete stop). Even if you see someone at the platform waiting to be picked up, still push the button. (That person might be a streetcar supervisor, and the streetcar might not stop for him/her.)
Exit the streetcar:As your approach your destination, wait for the streetcar to come to a complete stop. Push the yellow door button to open the doors, then exit.
Park and drive
Think about driving to a handful of downtown locations in a single day – the time it takes to find parking, navigate a parking garage, walk a couple blocks from the garage to your destination – all this a few times over. Now imagine you park one time and commit to riding the streetcar throughout the day.
“Some people might ask, ‘Why don’t I just drive there?’” Scroggins says. “We do have pretty ample parking downtown, but the thing that sets the streetcar apart is convenience. With the streetcar, you can get out of your car, park it, leave it, and go about the rest of your day without having to move your vehicle again.”
Keep these tips in mind if you’re parking your vehicle on downtown streets, whether you intend to ride the streetcar or not:
Park inside the white lines: If your car is over the white line, it’s in the path of the streetcar and could be ticketed or towed. If a car is in the path, OKC Streetcar personnel will stop the streetcar and attempt to find the owner so the car can be moved or adjusted; however, this grinds the flow of the streetcars across the city (between four and five streetcars) to a halt. In other words, if one is stalled, they all are stalled, causing an inconvenience for passengers throughout the city.
Look before opening your car doors: If you’re parked on the street, always look before you open your car door to avoid opening a door directly in the path of a streetcar.
Never touch overhead wires: Scroggins warns against going near downed power lines, touching downed power lines, or touching anything that’s touching them, including the streetcar rails.
Obey your own traffic signals: You might see a streetcar move through an intersection while you have a red light. That’s because streetcars have signals specific to them.
Be prepared to stop:
Streetcars travel at or below the speed limit and make frequent stops.
No passing: Don’t overtake or pass a streetcar, even if it isn’t moving.
Track grooves are slightly wider than the typical bike tire and can be slippery when wet and difficult to see in low light. Follow these tips to ensure you stay safe while cycling along the streetcar route.
Don’t get your tires stuck in the tracks: Turn across the track at a 90-degree angle and don’t lean into turns when crossing tracks.
Plan your route to avoid streetcar tracks: Eliminate the possibility of encountering the streetcar or getting your bike tires stuck by choosing a route that puts you out of the streetcar’s path.
Continue to practice everyday bike safety: Wear a helmet, never cross in front of a streetcar or tailgate a streetcar, and watch for motorists opening doors in your path.
Finally, show the streetcar loops some love by giving them a shoutout on social media. The OKC Streetcar social media handles should point you in the right direction of current hashtags and promotions, so checkout @okcstreetcar on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and see how you and other downtown OKC travelers can #LoveTheLoops.
While you’re cruising downtown OKC aboard the OKC Streetcar, take a minute to stop into the Innovation Station and size it up for your next off-site meeting or coworking session.