OKLAHOMA CITY – You voted to have it in 2009 and, now, the MAPS 3 Modern Streetcar is in its last phase before becoming operational later this year. With that comes a learning curve for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists.
Oklahoma City Streetcar is gearing up for testing starting Tuesday night.
“We’ve got to check clearances. We’ve got to check electrical systems. We’ve got to check the brakes on the streetcar,” said David Todd, MAPS program manager.
It’s the first time Oklahoma City has had a streetcar since the late 40s, so employees will check it hundreds – if not thousands – of hours before the first customer steps on.
“It will be stopped on the rails. There will be people walking around, testing things, making measurements so, please, be careful around those areas when the streetcars are out,” Todd said.
While the streetcar testing starts this week, it’s going on for the next several months. Then, by the end of 2018, it’s going to be in full operation.
The City of Oklahoma City wants to remind you to be safe around the tracks and also follow what the signs say.
“There’s no reason to be scared of the streetcar. It operates within traffic. Treat it just like you would a bus per se,” Todd said.
If not, there could be big consequences.
Video in Houston shows crashes and near misses with their light rail system.
People have tried to out cycle, out run or out drive a streetcar, which takes a lot longer to stop than a car.
“It will obey all of the traffic signals that car do. It will stop at the lights. It will go at the lights. Pedestrians will have the same rights of way,” Todd said.
- Do be prepared to stop. Streetcars make frequent stops.
- Do be aware of your surroundings. The streetcar is quiet.
- Do watch out for streetcars before you turn.
- If you are a bicyclist, do turn at 90 degrees, so you don’t get tires stuck on the tracks.
“The parking is one of the most critical things, and the parking has been marked now with a white line and those cars have to stay on the inside of that white line or they’ll get onto that track envelope where the streetcar,” Todd said.
It’s a learning curve for the new mode of transportation in downtown Oklahoma City but one the city hopes will be used often.
The Oklahoma City Streetcar is a $131 million project paid for with a 1 cent sales tax.
It will go up to 36 mph and run on two lines called the Bricktown loop and the Downtown loop. To see the route, click here.