EMBARK-ing Toward Better Mobility
August 17, 2021
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.”
Rural Agencies Launch Mobility On-Demand Pilot, 21 Counties, OK, 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.
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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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.