Oklahoma City’s public transportation system is embarking on a new journey. The bus system, which has been in existence since 1966, will be launching major system improvements April 28 and will formerly transition to a new name.
Metro Transit will be known as Embark. The new identity will represent all services – bus transit, parking and ferry. Later this spring, the transit division, currently known as Metro Transit, will launch system-wide service enhancements including new schedules and route alignments.
“The changes we are making to the public transportation system in Oklahoma City are really transformational, and the new identity illustrates the journey we as a community are undertaking together,” said Jason Ferbrache, director of public transportation and parking.
The system-wide route changes focus on increasing the frequency of the bus routes, reducing passenger wait and travel time, and realigning routes for optimal connectivity and to better match demand. Additional improvements currently underway include new bus stop signage and technology updates that will provide real-time information on the location of buses, a new website and a user-friendly trip planner. Even more enhancements will roll out this summer including Wi-Fi on board all buses, enhanced route information at bus stops, and the start of installing more than 31 new ADA accessible bus shelters.
The route changes are the result of a series of public meetings and a study conducted by an international transit research firm hired by the city of Oklahoma City to review and make recommendations for improving the current public transit system.
“Faster service is the first step to building a better system,” said Ferbrache. “These system changes lay the groundwork for building a better, stronger system that can one day support major improvements such as extended hours and Sunday service.”
On most routes, buses will arrive every 30 minutes. There will now only be six local bus routes with wait times in excess of 30 minutes. The changes also establish a mini “transit hub” in west Oklahoma City for improved connectivity and create a new south crosstown route to serve a growing South 29th Street corridor.
“The system-wide changes present a logical opportunity to rebrand at the same time,” said Michael Scroggins, manager of public information and technology. “We’ll be revising brochures, websites and other materials to reflect the increased frequency and revisions to routes and to help people more easily navigate the bus system.”
The agency began assessing the need for a potential name change in 2009. Formal research confirmed that awareness of the name and services provided by Metro Transit was low. Forty-five percent of those surveyed did not know the name.
“Corporate visual identity plays a significant role in the way an organization presents itself to both internal and external stakeholders,” added Scroggins. “It makes sense to demonstrate how we’re turning a corner with our public transportation in Oklahoma City. In just a short time, this won’t be the same transportation system we have today, and the new name captures the spirit of where we’re headed.”