An attempt to solicit public input for a comprehensive regional transportation study due out later this year was hampered by bad weather last month, but the mobile outreach effort continues with three more weeks of public events.
James Wagner, the senior transportation planner for the Indian Nations Council of Governments, said FAST Forward -- as the regional transportation planning process is being called -- will continue through March 31. The process began with a public event on Jan. 19 at Tulsa Community College's Center for Creativity downtown before being slowed down by a series of winter storms. Since that time, organizers have taken a refurbished 40-foot Tulsa Transit bus outfitted with displays with them to stops throughout the metropolitan area in an attempt to engage citizens in a discussion of what kind of transportation options they want to see developed over the next 30 years.
The purpose of the plan is to identify and prioritize the region's highest-traffic areas, followed by the creation of a detailed analysis of alternative transportation modes for specific corridors. The feedback obtained from encounters with citizens will go a long way toward making the study complete, organizers have said.
The bus is in Sand Springs this week before heading to Glenpool and Bixby next week. The bus is scheduled to be in Broken Arrow and Owasso later this month, as well as locations throughout Tulsa.
Wagner said organizers ask visitors to view a five-minute video outlining the process, then give them the opportunity to ask questions. At the end, citizens are given comment cards to submit, which are then posted on the organization's Web site at fastforwardplan.org.
"That keeps it a transparent process," Wagner said.
Approximately 150 comments have been posted from the 85 stops the bus has made, he said.
Wagner said one theme that has emerged from the process so far is that many Tulsans who have experience with public transportation in other cities find the local system lacking.
"What we're hearing over and over again is, 'I used to live in (another city), and when I was there, I took the bus everywhere I went. And when I moved to Tulsa, I was shocked at the level of public transportation service,' " he said.
Wagner said local mass transit is very efficient in terms of cost but not coverage.
"That's the general theme of what we're hearing," he said. "We're trying to get out there as much as we can."
One of the bigger events left on the mobile outreach schedule is a March 16 event at Joe Momma's Pizza, 112 S. Elgin Ave. downtown. A transportation trivia night will be held beginning at 9, though the bus will be on site beginning at 6.
Wagner said the study should be completed by early summer, though a draft version of it will be done sooner than that. As the public outreach process continues, he said, an analysis is being conducted that identifies transit corridors and examines them from a technical aspect. Those corridors will be prioritized based on population, demographics, needs and economic development potential, he said.
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