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Tulsa Transit Proposes Plan To Speed Up Popular Bus Routes

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The frequent riders on Tulsa's bus system seem to have a universal observation that the wait for a bus turns even a short trip into a long one. The frequent riders on Tulsa's bus system seem to have a universal observation that the wait for a bus turns even a short trip into a long one.
Ashley Thompson was waiting with her baby to go home from a doctor's appointment. Ashley Thompson was waiting with her baby to go home from a doctor's appointment.
"We've seen the ridership go up about 24 percent over the last two years, so demand continues to go up," said MTTA Manager Bill Cartwright. "We've seen the ridership go up about 24 percent over the last two years, so demand continues to go up," said MTTA Manager Bill Cartwright.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

More people are taking the bus in Tulsa, after years of declines, and there's a plan to speed up the bus, along the most popular route.

The bus route along Peoria is the busiest one for Tulsa transit: one in six riders take that bus. There's a plan speed up the Peoria route, and make it a more convenient choice.

The frequent riders on Tulsa's bus system seem to have a universal observation that the wait for a bus turns even a short trip into a long one.

"Takes an hour, at least, and that's if they're not running late. We've been here 45 minutes already," said Darren Schaefer.

Ashley Thompson was waiting with her baby to go home from a doctor's appointment.

"It takes me about 10 to 15 minutes in a car, but it takes about an hour and a half in the bus," Thompson said.

It's a simple equation for the board at the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority (MTTA), which has the numbers to prove that when Tulsa adds bus service, more people choose to use it.

Last year, 3 million people took the bus.

"We've seen the ridership go up about 24 percent over the last two years, so demand continues to go up," said MTTA Manager Bill Cartwright.

The next big change could be what's called a "bus rapid transit" system along Peoria that would have a bus at every stop as often as every 15 minutes during the busiest part of the day.

It's a $15 million item in the next city bond issue that could make what's already a popular route into the backbone of transit for the city.

"So what we'll do is beef that up even more, add more busses to it, a lot more stations--stations that are different, not like what we've seen in Tulsa before," Cartwright said.

The more frequent service would speed up trips mainly by reducing the wait times at the stops. For the riders, that would be a big improvement.

"We've got to go to work and we've got to be there on time, because if you're not on time, you're not going to have a job," said rider Tony Jones.

The rapid transit plan for Peoria depends on the bond issue passing. Otherwise, there are no plans for changes in the coming year.

Already one in six trips on the bus is along Peoria, so that's why the next improvement is planned there.

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