New drivers are taking over Tulsa Transit’s Turley Shuttle starting next month.
After the initial operator, Pelivan, asked for an 18% cost increase for its second year running the north Tulsa service, Tulsa Transit turned to another contractor, First Transit. First Transit said it can run the shuttles on their current schedule of every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday through June 2022 for just under $95,000.
While Tulsa Transit will now have to cover vehicles, fuel and maintenance, the combined cost will still be less than Pelivan’s proposal.
The shuttle replaced the north Tulsa community’s fixed-route service. That ended with the launch of the Aero bus rapid transit line, which doesn’t go as far north as the old buses did.
While Turley Shuttle ridership has grown since March, Tulsa Transit General Manager Ted Rieck said it’s still not as popular as he’d like.
"We think it connects the right dots. If you live in that part of town, you can get to the health department, you can get to recreation, you can get to grocery, you can get to our mainline service. So, you'd think it would be a home run, but — so we need to keep looking at that and seeing what improvements we need to make," Rieck said.
Rieck said there’s still plenty of interest in extending Aero farther north on Peoria Avenue.
"But to do the BRT extension would be a pretty good cost, and I think the board would like to see some participation from the county. Even for the current shuttle, we would like to see some participation from the county as well, but those are conversations we'll have to have in the coming months," Rieck said.
The Turley Shuttle runs between O’Brien Park and the Tulsa Health Department at 56th Street North.