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Oklahoma's First Public Transit Plan Seeks $4.5B Investment

State officials are looking for public feedback on Oklahoma’s first public transit plan through late November.

Oklahoma Transit Authority Executive Director Mark Nestlen said it represents a significant investment to move Oklahoma far up the national rankings, much like the plan to address structurally deficient bridges in the state.

"It cost $4.2 billion over 15 years to make us Top 10 in bridges. The plan that’s being laid in front of you today — we’re 32nd in the nation in transit. We spend $1.49 per capita on transit in the state of Oklahoma. This plan is to spend $4.5 billion over 20 years to become a Top-10 state in transit with the policy that takes it there," Nestlen said.

Meredith Greene with consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard said clear priorities identified through a survey are guiding proposed investments in urban, rural and tribal transit systems.

"The No. 1 thing that we heard through the survey was that they would like to have transit for access to jobs. No. 1, ‘I need to get to my place of employment,’ followed very closely by No. 2, which was access to medical services," Greene said.

Greene says while urban areas generally need more fixed-route service for workers and rural areas need more coordinated services to serve elderly residents, all transit systems need to do a better job of working together.

"Every single county in Oklahoma includes individuals who rely on public transportation to meet at least some of their needs," Greene said.

The plan seeks to support 20-point-five million annual transit trips by 2040, more than double the number taken today.

Feedback on the plan can be submitted at oktransitplan.org through Nov. 21. It will be presented to the state transportation commission in December for approval before being submitted to lawmakers and Gov. Kevin Stitt.

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.
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