Oklahoma Passenger Rail Hitting The Tracks In Style
TULSA, Oklahoma - An old form of transportation is being revamped with a new-age twist. In a matter of weeks, the Eastern Flyer will begin trial runs, making it one of only two passenger trains in Oklahoma.
It has been years since a passenger train like The Meteor has connected Tulsa to Oklahoma City, and while that still may be in the distance, Iowa Pacific says it's on the right track to making that a reality.
"Passenger rail is a good, solid, economic tool," former city councilor Rick Westcott. "Not just for the destinations of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but also where there are stops along the way."
Westcott says the first-class travel of the '50s and '60s may have skipped a generation, but it could soon be making a comeback.
"I think this is a great opportunity, that we're being offered to see what it's like," Westcott said.
Iowa Pacific is offering three all-inclusive, round trips from Sapulpa to Midwest City on Feb. 9, Feb. 15 and Feb. 23.
From there, passengers will be bussed to one of three locations in Oklahoma City: A Thunder game, shopping in Bricktown or a visit to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
"You can have a drink and not worry about getting arrested," president Ed Ellis said. "You can text somebody and not worry about running off the road."
The three packages start at $70 and include of options of breakfast and dinner, drinks or riding inside a glass dome.
"If we got hired to run regular trains between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, then the cost would be a lot less," Ellis said.
Passengers will leave at 8 a.m., spend roughly four hours in OKC before returning around 6:30 p.m.
The trips will take just over two hours each way, but Ellis said the experience will overshadow the travel time.
"The point is, you park your car, you get on the train, and you're taken care of completely from that point on," he said.
Iowa Pacific's goal is eventually to operate out of both Oklahoma City and Tulsa with eight round trips per day.
"If a company is willing to come in and operate the trains at their own expense, put up their money and take the finical risk, what's the objection?" Westcott said.
So far, 60 tickets have been sold for the Eastern Flyer, but Ellis says the train can hold up to 300 passengers. You can purchase tickets at the train up to an hour before departure.