Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Oklahoma City's public transportation system has embarked on a new journey -- and gotten a new name -- this week.
Formerly called METRO Transit, the bus system, which has been in existence since 1966, is now called EMBARK.
The new identity will represent all services -- bus transit, parking and ferry -- and also involves systemwide improvements, new schedules and route alignments, according to a news release from the bus system.
"The systemwide route changes focus on increasing the frequency of the bus routes, reducing passenger wait and travel times and realigning routes for optimal connectivity and to match demand better. Additional improvements underway include new bus stop signage and technology updates that will provide real-time information on the location of buses, a new website and a user-friendly trip planner. Even more enhancements will roll out this summer, including Wi Fi on board all buses, enhanced route information at bus stops and the start of installing more than 31 new handicapped-accessible bus shelters, the news release stated.
The route changes are the result of a series of public meetings and a study conducted by an international transit research firm hired by the City of Oklahoma City to review and make recommendations for improving the current public transit system.
“Faster service is the first step to building a better system,” said Jason Ferbrache, director of public transportation and parking, in the release. “These system changes lay the groundwork for building a better, stronger system that can one day support major improvements such as extended hours and Sunday service.”
On most routes, buses will arrive every 30 minutes. There now only will be six local bus routes with wait times in excess of 30 minutes. The changes also establish a mini “transit hub” in west Oklahoma City for improved connectivity and create a new south crosstown route to serve a growing South 29th Street corridor.
“The systemwide changes present a logical opportunity to rebrand at the same time,” said Michael Scroggins, manager of public information and technology, in the release. “We’ll be revising brochures, websites and other materials to reflect the increased frequency and revisions to routes and to help people more easily navigate the bus system.”
New bus schedules are available at the downtown Transit Center. The public can access routes, schedules and maps at the new website, www.embarkok.com. Customer care staff are available for personal assistance from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. by calling (405) 235-7433 (RIDE).
Read more about transportation in the Oklahoma City metro area.
Photo on okcchamber.com from EMBARK's web page.