Oklahoma Senate and House Member Committees Collaborate to Pass Additional $5 Million Dollars in Transit Funding

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, – Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, and Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow recently supported OK SB1040 (section 148) that allowed for a desperately needed increase in state transit funding in the state budget.  The first increase of its kind in over 17 years, the $5 million dollar increase will allow state public transit agencies to continue to support Oklahoma residents who rely on transit services for transportation.  The funds will be allocated through the Oklahoma Department of Transportation state revolving fund and will help combat the rising cost of operations, fuel, and vehicles for transit operators statewide.  Public transit serves all 77 counties in OK and gave over 10 million rides to Oklahoma residents last year.

“This legislation will help Oklahomans to get to work, to the grocery store, and doctor’s office if they can’t or don’t want to drive. It serves our entire state, as 99% of OK residents live near a transit route regardless of if they are in an urban, tribal, or a rural area. Additionally, for every dollar invested in public transportation, approximately $4 in economic returns are generated in our communities,” said Senator John Haste.

“The Oklahoma Transit Association brought the urgent need for help with this situation to our attention as their fleets continue to age and the cost of fuel and operations continues to increase. We are pleased that we were able to respond and support the 37 Transit Agencies in Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation with these additional funds,” he continued.

Representative Nicole Miller concurred and added, “A lack of state funding currently means Oklahoma leaves too much federal money on the table. Our latest estimates project that our state leaves over $10 million dollars in federal funding on the table due to lack of matching money for transit. This, coupled with an already aging fleet of vehicles and current lack of access to new vehicles, means these funds are now needed more than ever to allow our public transit agencies to be competitive for federal dollars and have the tools needed to continue to provide critical services for our residents.”

The bill is part of the 2022 state legislative session that is expected to wrap up in the coming days.  The bill will then pass to Gov. Kevin Stitt for his consideration and signing it into law.

 


 

Oklahoma Transit Association Honors Winners of the 2022 OTA Awards of Excellence

Norman, OK – The Oklahoma Transit Association (OTA) annual spring conference was held May 23-25 in Norman. OK.  Meeting highlights included several prominent speakers, including Oklahoma Transportation Secretary, Timothy Gatz, remarks by OK State Delegate, Nicole Miller, and a city welcome by Norman Mayor, Breea Clark.  The three-day event also included several breakout sessions and a transit tradeshow and was attended by public transit leaders from around the state.

The OTA also held the annual 2022 Transit Awards of Excellence that recognizes leaders and advocates in the transit community for their outstanding work in the past year. The 2022 awards featured the following categories: Transit Professional of the Year, Innovation Award, Safety & Training Award, Supplier of the Year, Major Ed Pulido Transit Hero of the Year Award, Transit Champion of the Year Award, and Transit System of the Year.

2022 Oklahoma Transit Association Awards of Excellence Winners included:

Transit Professional of the Year – Martin Hernandez, Transportation Director of The City of Guymon – The Ride won the Transit Professional of the Year award is given to a member of the transit community who demonstrates exemplary leadership qualities, actively collaborates with other public transportation services, and helps the community actively accomplish its goals. Hernandez has been the Transportation Director of The Ride for seven years and has been voted ‘Best City Employee’ by the public four times. He provides bus route training to all new employees and teaches safety classes for proper bus lift usage for disabled clients. Outside of work, Hernandez serves on the Board of Directors for both the Panhandle Counseling and Heath Center and “Pink Heals”, a non-profit that helps individuals fight cancer.

Innovation Award – the CLIMB – Ride Program pairs mobility and social service for the child welfare system and is designed to reunify families through the Department of Human Services Child Welfare by removing transportation as a barrier. It also provides families in the foster care system with comprehensive transportation options, including transportation training, incentives and post-program support, as participants work to complete their court-ordered services. The program is administrated by Marilyn Dillion, PhD of Embark.

Safety & Training Award – Rebecca Tahchawwickah, Comanche Nation Transit Safety won the Safety & Training Award recognizing transit organizations for their commitment to improving the safety and security of transit employees, customers, and communities through application of effective safety initiatives. Tahchawwickah worked her way up from a dispatcher to become the wave of change that played a key role in making Comanche Nation Transit the safe system it is today. As Safety Coordinator, Tahchawwickah created Asset Organization and Data Collection Systems that led to overall improvement of service as well as a safety reporting tool empowering employees to express concerns or safety issues.

Supplier of the Year – Brent Roy, Creative Bus Sales is a bus sales professional with Creative Bus Sales specializing in the sale and support of custom vehicles for public transit agencies throughout the Southwest for transits of all sizes. An expert in bus technical specifications and regulations, Brent is an advocate for public transit agencies with multiple bus manufacturers. A strong supporter of the Oklahoma Transit Association, Brent has previously served on the board of directors and has been a longtime member and sponsor.


 

Oklahoma Transit Association Spring Conference to be Held in Norman, OK on May 23-25th

Norman, OK, – The Oklahoma Transit Association (OTA) will convene their 2022 Annual Spring Conference & Expo, presented by Creative Bus Sales in Norman, OK on May 23-25, 2022, at the Embassy Suites and Convention Center.  The association will welcome attendees from the Oklahoma’s 37 Transit Agencies, industry suppliers, and other transit stakeholders for three days of education, leadership training, and networking.

“We are thrilled to bring together public transportation champions and advocates from across Oklahoma to discuss the importance public transit. Our 37 state transit agencies, along with our partners like the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and vendors from across the country will attend numerous sessions, learn best practices from their peers, and ensure that Oklahoma Transit Agencies will be more resilient and responsive than ever in offering services to all Oklahoma residents,” said Andrea Ball, OTA Executive Director.

A packed agenda of plenary speakers includes Secretary Tim Gatz from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Mayor Breea Clark from the City of Norman, and the unveiling of OTA’s latest statewide project, the Rolling Oklahoma Classroom (ROC bus). This grant funded, mobile classroom will travel the state, educating transit employees and community advocates on topics including human trafficking awareness, mobility guidance, and other pertinent transportation topics. Other breakout sessions include panels that will discuss Alternative Fuels, Creative Transit Partnerships, Planning for the Future of Transit, How to Protect Transit Infrastructure from Cyber Attacks, and Addressing the Workforce Gap Challenges.

The event will conclude on Wednesday with a closing luncheon that recognizes outstanding Oklahoma transit professionals for their hard work.  At this event, the 2022 OTA Transit Association Awards of Excellence winners will be announced.

Registration is still open for the event and more information, including a full schedule of events can be found by visiting the OTA website, www.oktransit.org.  Sponsors and exhibitors include BraunAbility, AngelTrax, CWI Digital Systems, RideCo, ABC Companies, ALTRO, Qryde, ProAir, Hanover Displays, Luminator, GreenPower Motors, OTA, ODOT, Valeo, JF Public Transit Consultants LLC, Rosco Vision, GMV. Creative Bus Sales, SafeFleet, ETA Transit Systems, and Safety Vision, LLC

Founded in 1983, the Oklahoma Transit Association (OTA) is the state’s voice for public transit. OTA’s membership is comprised of the 34 urban, small urban, suburban, rural, and tribal transit agencies in the state who share the common priority of providing and improving mobility and access for all Oklahoman’s. Industry-related vendors who share that vision also belong to OTA through its Associate Member Program. OTA’s mission is to support public transit through advocacy, education, communication, and partnerships. The organization’s vision is to be distinguished as a leader in the public transit industry by facilitating the enhancement of mobility and access for all Oklahomans.


 

Oklahoma Transit Association Names New Executive Director

Oklahoma City, OK – [Oct 5, 2021] – Andrea Ball has been named the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Transit Association (OTA), with 20 years of multifaceted experience working in trade association management, communications, and public affairs.

A Kansas native, Ball looks forward to returning to her Midwest roots and serving the 37 transit agencies in Oklahoma as Executive Director. “I’m thrilled to be back working in the Midwest and I look forward to learning about the needs of our 37 Oklahoma transit agencies.  The diversity of this OTA membership is what drew me to the position and learning how to best support the needs of the rural, tribal, and urban members will be my first priority,” said Ball.

Ball’s career highlights include addressing the United Nations in 2016 on the digital divide and women as well as being recognized in 2009 by the State Journal as a Generation Next winner, which highlights 40 outstanding business leaders under 40.

“On behalf of OTA, we are excited to have Andrea Ball join our organization as its ExecutiveDirector. We are expecting great things from her in setting the right tone with our members and stakeholders as well as building on the momentum of the last four years,” said Ted Rieck, OTA President.

OTA members will get the opportunity to connect with Ball at the upcoming OTA Virtual Conference on Transit Tuesdays. The conference will be each Tuesday in October from 2-5pm and registrations are still being accepted.

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Oklahoma Transit Association

Founded in 1983, the Oklahoma Transit Association (OTA) is the state’s voice for public transit. OTA’s membership is comprised of the 34 urban, small urban, suburban, rural, and tribal transit agencies in the state who share the common priority of providing and improving mobility and access for all Oklahoman’s. Industry-related vendors who share that vision also belong to OTA through its Associate Member Program. OTA’s mission is to support public transit through advocacy, education, communication, and partnerships. The organization’s vision is to be distinguished as a leader in the public transit industry by facilitating the enhancement of mobility and access for all Oklahomans.

 

 


 

EMBARK-ing Toward Better Mobility

August 17, 2021

A long-term strategic plan, dedicated voter-approved funding, deep municipal partnerships and strong support of the community is helping Oklahoma City’s EMBARK become the region’s mobility experts.

The Central Oklahoma Transportation & Parking Authority (COTPA), better known by its brand name of EMBARK, has been helping Oklahoma City residents stay on the move since 1966. EMBARK has been recognized by the American Public Transportation Association as its 2016 Outstanding Public Transportation System (providing four million or fewer annual passenger trips) and the Oklahoma Transit Association’s 2021 Transit System of the Year.

The EMBARK system can serve as a study in many things: building brand awareness, delivering a successful voter-approved ballot initiative and becoming a mobility integrator. But above all, EMBARK has been consistent in its strategic planning and community outreach efforts all focused on delivering improved service.

“It’s important for us to position ourselves as the mobility experts for the community and the region and really to take that a step further,” said EMBARK Administrator Jason Ferbrache. “We’ve been trying to capitalize on and create the momentum for public transit in our community that we’ve seen over the past seven or eight years at all levels, from residents to city council, for improved public transit. We’re absolutely focused on taking that challenge and responsibility and leveraging it as best we possibly can.”

Click here to read full article

 


 

Rural Agencies Launch Mobility On-Demand Pilot, 21 Counties, OK, 2021

June 2021

Cimarron Transit, JAMM Transit, the KI BOIS Area Transit System, and Pelivan Transit, in partnership with the Grand Gateway Economic Development Association, have launched PICK Transportation, a mobility on-demand pilot serving central and eastern Oklahoma. PICK Transportation functions as an off-peak point-to-point microtransit service, available from 5 PM to 10 PM during the work week and 10 AM to 2 PM on Saturdays. Customers can request rides by phone or through the Uber app, the booking and routing technology partner for the pilot. Fares on PICK Transportation are a flat $3 and are paid in app. Between the four participating transit agencies, PICK Transportation has a fleet of 41 ADA-compliant vehicles. PICK Transportation is currently funded through an Integrated Mobility Innovation (IMI) grant of about $1.5 million from the Federal Transit Administration. During its first week of service, PICK Transportation launched in the communities of Atoka, Bartlesville, Owasso, and Tahlequah. 17 other rural communities will be served as PICK Transportation’s service area expands.

Demand-responsive transportation can be an effective mobility solution where fixed-route transit does not effectively serve communities. Notably, PICK Transportation can also supplement transit services for American Tribal communities based in rural Oklahoma, including the Cherokee Nation, Miami, and Shawnee tribes. Beyond this pilot, it will be important to determine if PICK Transportation can operate sustainably and support the transportation systems of small towns in central and eastern Oklahoma.

More Information


 


 

Stockyards Landing Opened as Oklahoma River Cruises Fifth Service Stop

OKLAHOMA CITY – EMBARK announced today the unveiling of its fifth service stop along the Oklahoma River. The Stockyards Landing located at 800 S. Agnew Avenue offers customers easy access to explore the iconic Stockyards City and is adjacent to the City’s Equestrian Park. Since the service started in 2008, Oklahoma River Cruises provides approximately 10,000 trips annually.

Oklahoma River Cruises provide transportation to various locations along a seven-mile stretch that currently includes connections from the Meridian Corridor to Regatta Park. A sixth landing is in development for the soon-to-open First Americans Museum.

“The timing of the newest landing in Stockyards City coincides perfectly with the return of our ferry service,” said Jason Ferbrache, EMBARK Administrator. “This landing combined with the new parking lot and sidewalks that lead directly to the district not only expands the reach of our transit services in Central Oklahoma but also gives customers options for exploring Stockyards City and all the Oklahoma River has to offer.”

EMBARK’s Ferry service was paused in July 2020 and returned this month with half-price admission on Wednesdays this season. Customers can reach other area venues and attractions, including Boathouse District, Bricktown, and now, Stockyards City.

 

With the newest landing at Stockyards City, customers can enjoy legendary dining locations like Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, shopping at Langston’s and Shorty’s Caboy Hattery, along with country music at the Rodeo Opry. Stockyards City is recognized as the only Urban Main Street Program in Oklahoma City.

“We are excited about the opportunities that the landing will open up for our historic district,” said Kelli Payne, Stockyards City Board President. “Whether it’s shopping, dining or enjoying live music, Stockyards City offers an opportunity for visitors and residents to immerse themselves in an authentic experience.”

Three climate-controlled ferries known as the Devon Discovery, Devon Explorer, and Devon Pioneer transport visitors along the river. Oklahoma River Cruises’ scheduled service operates seasonally, Wednesday through Sunday, and tickets are sold onboard or at the Regatta Park ticket booth. Private charters are available year-round. For more details regarding Oklahoma River Cruises schedule service, specialty cruises, charters, or fare information, visit https://okrivercruises.com/.

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Media Contact

Michael Scroggins

michael.scroggins@okc.gov

O (405) 297-2107  M (405) 837-9510

About EMBARK

EMBARK is the business unit of the Central Oklahoma Transportation & Parking Authority (COTPA) – a public trust administered by the City of Oklahoma City.

EMBARK’s vision is to be world-class transportation that is accessible to all, and all want to access it. EMBARK’s mission is to be a self-sustaining transportation network that removes barriers of location and socioeconomic status, while elevating the status and use of public transportation so all of central Oklahoma can safely and quickly reach their destination.

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