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Tulsa Transit Offers Peek of Route 66 Rapid Bus Line

Matt Trotter

A rapid transit bus heading to service in Kansas City stops in Tulsa to give a preview of a Route 66 line proposed by Tulsa Transit.

The buses would run between downtown and 145th East Avenue with 15-minute frequency at nearly two dozen stations.

Tulsa Transit Board Vice-Chair Marquay Baul said public transportation is in the top three reasons young adults move to a city.

"We have to move the needle and improve the services we already have," Baul said. "We service well over 3 million rides, 3 million individuals a year. That's a lot of individuals, and if we can improve those services, we get better access to education, better access to employment, we give better access for daycare and health care."

Tulsa Transit is depending on voters approving the transportation piece of the Vision Tulsa package to fund operations of its east-west and north-south rapid bus routes. The capital portion of the north-south route along Peoria is already funded.

Baul said the transportation piece of the sales tax would give them consistent, dedicated funding for rapid buses and more.

"And that's essentially what's separated us from other cities that had the capacity and the ability to move forward with their transit, and they did that with dedicated funding," Baul said. "So, us having this on the ballot is huge in ways that we can't even fathom yet."

City Councilor Blake Ewing pushed for the transportation portion of Vision Tulsa and said the rapid bus routes move Tulsa forward in several ways.

"Is this an economic issue? Yes. Is this a quality of life issue? Yes. Is it opportunities for low-income Tulsans? Yes," Ewing said. "Is it appeal for Millennials and the next generation of grown-ups in Tulsa? It certainly is."

According to Tulsa Transit, more than one in five Tulsa residents and jobs are within a 10 minute walk of the proposed routes.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.