Tulsa To OKC Passenger Rail Service Proposed

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 1/14/2011 10:52 pm Published: 1/14/2011 9:25 pm

Passenger rail service from Tulsa to Oklahoma City may soon become a reality. Leaders with Passenger Rail Oklahoma met with city and state leaders Friday to discuss logistics of a future rail service.

Under the proposal, the state would spend $26 million to update and improve existing rail lines. The Amtrak service would be about a two-hour, thirty-minute ride.

"i think it's an excellent idea," Commuter rail service supporter Pam Iacoe said. "I believe it's a long time coming. i believe that a lot of people in this city will use it. I believe that there are an enormous number of people that would rather ride than drive."

Iacoe can't say enough good things about the idea of passenger rail service between the two cities. Neither can Broken Arrow resident Michael Foster.

"That would save wear and tear on your vehicle and gas, and as long as it was affordable [I would support it]."

Tulsa city councilor Rick Westcott says comfort is another reason to consider the rail service.

"Your seat on an Amtrak train is about the same as a first class seat on an airplane," Westcott said. "You can work, you can take your laptop. Amtrak provides internet service. you can be productive on the train, whereas you're driving your car the other way."

While no location for a Tulsa train station has been decided on at this point, Westcott says the old Union Station - which now serves as the Jazz Hall of Fame - would be a perfect spot because it's centrally located and already sits right next to the tracks."

Foster says there are other non-business advantages to a rail line as well.

"You could go down there and see an Oklahoma City thunder basketball game, go to Bricktown, spend your day down there," Foster said.

"It's just time," Iacoe said. "This part of the country needs to join the rest of the country and start group travel."

But there are also economic reasons supporters of the passenger service say the state needs to move ahead with the proposal.

"To attract other companies to this area we need to have something of that nature," Foster said. "A commuter service that would attract companies. That would make us seem like we're a bigger metro area."

Foster says he knows asking for $26 million from the state budget in this economic climate could be a hard sell. But he says even if the state funds aren't there, the project is worth pursuing by other means anyway.

"If they have to raise taxes a penny here I wouldn't mind paying the extra, as long as it was going to something to improve the community," Foster said.

Westcott says it would be a smart investment of the funds for the State of Oklahoma.

"For the Heartland Flyer from Oklahoma City to Dallas the economic return is about three-and-a-half to one. For every dollar spent there is an economic investment return of about $3.50. So the $26 million is not just money that's thrown down a rat hole. It's an economic investment."

Foster says if that if there's that potential in a rail line from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, it should be a pretty simple business decision.

"Definitely, if those are the return numbers for something between Oklahoma City and Dallas, then definitely it's worth looking into in a serious nature [here]."

There's no word yet on how much tickets to ride the train would cost, but Fox 23 asked several people how much they would be willing to pay, and we heard anything from $10 to $30 each way. Most people said that between the $8 in tolls round trip to make the drive, and the cost of gas these days, they expect the train ticket price likely wouldn't be much more expensive than driving.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Tom Elmore - 4/30/2012 6:29 PM
0 Votes
Just remember, "bug," that every minute spent behind the wheel of an automobile is lost to any thing other than driving. Train time is productive time -- whether spent working, reading, snacking or napping. Think about the thousands of man-hours sent up in smoke on the Turner Turnpike every day. Then there's the matter of those disabled by age or illness from driving cars -- more every day with the aging of the babyboomers. Should they also be denied mobility and contact with loved ones, medical professionals and others? Rail passenger service not only benefits train riders -- but, theoretically, gets those who'd rather not be driving but have no choice off of the highways. The bigger issue is this: CHOICE. America is supposed to be about CHOICE -- not about "no choice," but the argument made by the highway and airline lobbies is this: "Our maintenance and other deficits are so extreme that they take up all the public transportation money." That's not a reason to deny Oklahomans the benefits of choice -- and of far safer, far more energy-efficient, time-productive, lower maintenance-cost rail service.

Smr Claremore - 10/3/2011 1:35 PM
0 Votes
It's not just to OKC...once Tulsa is connected it would be connected to DFW through OKC and then to the Texas Flyer which would go to LA.

watchdog1 - 1/18/2011 6:39 PM
0 Votes
Judging by the way Tulsa takes care of everything else in the city, I can only cringe when I think about the condition a rail service would be in... it would become so unsafe and risky no one would want to use it...it would quickly become a place for drugs, gangs, rapes, assaults and robbery, you can't seriously believe it will be any safer than your own neighborhoods and businesses, why would it, how could it? Just another expense for the city that they will have to raise taxes, and the price of utilities to try to pay for. What shortsighted morons.

Clinchfield - 1/17/2011 4:09 PM
0 Votes
Just as a footnote for the younger viewers that might wonder how the Government killed privately run passenger trains which created the need for Amtrak, during the 50's and 60's , while the railroads bought new passenger equipment, the government saw fit to build airports at government expense (taxpayers including the railroads paying to support their competition) on tax free land . The airlines should have built their own airports , just as the railroads built their stations . How could privste railroad compete ? Any questions are welcomed. We need a level playing field for all modes of transportation hopefully under the private sector . Until that is accomplished , it is only fair that Amtrak be supported.

Clinchfield - 1/17/2011 3:00 PM
0 Votes
Keep in mind all forms of transporation are subsidized. The reason that Amtrak even exists is because the government killed privately run passenger trains such as were operated to Tulsa by the Frisco and Santa Fe. As a Tea Party conservative , I would propose that the Tulsa and Oklahoma City airports be put on the property tax roles , just like the railroad that would be used for the proposed Amtrak train. When that is done let the fittest survive. In the meantime let's proceed to again have a balanced transportation system.

bugmenot - 1/15/2011 11:23 AM
0 Votes
Sounds good in theory and all. But how much would a round trip ticket be? Can you rent a car once you arrive in the other city? Two and a half hours compared to a 80-90 minute drive?? Looks like another Amtrak, money losing, taxpayer subsidized boondoggle to me.
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