Monday, January 20, 2014

Bus Riding 101 - The Basics, Route 1 and Route 2

Is it just me, or does the phrase “alternative transportation” seem to mean “anything other than personal car use”? Riding a bus, riding a bike, or walking, are just several options a person should have in addition to the alternative of driving a car. All transportation is alternative in a well-structured city.

In the last few months we’ve talked a great deal about walkability, but we’ve received several comments and messages about how it would be easier to rely less on the car if there was better public transit in OKC. Firstly, these comments almost never have any specifics about what “better” transit means. Is it that there is too much time between busses? Is it that the busses don’t come to certain areas? Or does it have to do with a lack of obvious educational information about where the buses go, what you can get to, and how to integrate it into your schedule?  We’ve decided to take an inventory of all the bus routes in the Metro Transit service area to help address these questions, so that you, the people who are interested in using your car less, can have a better understanding of what you have access to through the bus system.

There are more than 20 routes in the Metro Transit service area, and they combine for a total 324.5 miles of travel. There are dozens of bus stops on each route, and the busses will often stop to pick up people who hail the bus like a cab. More than 50% of people in Oklahoma City live within a ½-mile of a bus line, and could potentially walk to their closest bus stop.

Please note: Several changes to bus routes are occurring in March, so we will have to update some of the following information when that occurs. A few routes will be removed entirely and consolidated with others.

First things first; How do you use the bus system?
This excellent video from the Metro Transit website explains everything you need to know about using the bus.

You need to have cash on hand, and exact change; otherwise, you get a change ticket that you can use for future bus rides, as the fare box and drivers do not distribute change. Reading the route schedule is easy, but the maps on these schedules can be confusing since they lack any sort of context. We will be uploading maps for each route with context to help improve understanding.

The bus costs $1.75 for a single trip, $4.00 for a day pass, $14.00 for a week pass, and $50.00 for a monthly pass. There are other pricing options, but these are the most common.

Next, we’re going to look at a couple of routes. Today we’re looking at routes 1 and 2.

This schedule and diagram map are available on the Metro Transit website
Here's a map I made to help visualize where Route 1 goes.
As you can see, there is a one-hour headway (i.e. the average interval of time between vehicles moving in the same direction on the same route) on Route 1, except in the mornings, when two buses primarily shuttle people into the downtown area. We talked with the bus driver about the average day on Route 1, and he told us that the bus is busiest in the morning before 8:00am and the afternoon after 4:00pm, which coincides with typical work-day “rush” hours. Route 1 is one of the routes that will be removed and will be consolidated with Route 2, but it will be in service until early March. During non-peak hours (like what we rode today) very few people use this bus. It leaves eastward from the Transit Center, heads through Downtown, Bricktown and then Deep Deuce before crossing I-235. It then passes by the OU Medical Center. From there it travels further east into primarily residential areas.

You can transfer to three different bus routes along Route 1:
1. Transfer for Route 18 is at NE 8th St. and N Lincoln Ave.
2. Transfer for Route 22 is at NE 10th St. and MLK Blvd.
3. Transfer for Route 19 is along NE 23rd St. (Route 1 and 19 travel concurrently down this portion of NE 23rd St., so if you get off at any point, you will be able to transfer.)

Places of Interest (in order from Transit Center):
- Oklahoma City Memorial
- Skirvin Hilton Hotel
- Cox Convention Center (and Renaissance Hotel)
- Bricktown (American Banjo Museum, Bricktown Brewery, Tapwerks, etc.)
- Deep Deuce (Native Roots Market)
- OU Medical Center
- Douglass High School
- Stewart Golf Course
- Edwards Elementary
- Edwards Park
- Harbor Christian Academy
- Diggs Park
- Community Action Agency

Route 2 has a half-hour headway, and has significantly greater ridership than Route 1. This route will be altered in March to pick up the riders that formerly used Route 1. We rode around 1:00pm and had nearly a full bus the entire ride. Route 2 leaves eastward from the transit center and travels the full length of Automobile Alley before heading east on NW 13th St. Then it covers a great deal of ground within the OU Medical Center. Parents were taking their children to OU Children’s Hospital on our trip, and others got off at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and Mary McGuire Plaza Senior Citizen Center. From here the bus proceeds to residential areas with several parks. Eventually, it travels to NE 23rd St. at MLK Blvd, which has several useful amenities, such as a Buy 4 Less, CVS, Family Dollar, and the Ralph Ellison Library, and a transfer to Route 22, all within a walkable distance from each other.

You can transfer to 5 different routes on Route 2:
1. Transfer for Route 18 at NE 13th St. and N Lincoln Ave.
2. Transfer for Route 3 at NE 13th St. and Phillips Ave.
3. Transfer for Route 23 at NE 13th St. and Kelley Ave.
4. Transfer for Route 22 at NE 23rd St. and MLK Blvd.
5. Transfer for Route 19 at NE 23rd St. and Miramar Blvd.

Places of Interest (in order from Transit Center):
- Oklahoma City Memorial
- Automobile Alley (Broadway Wine Merchants, Plenty Mercantile, Hideaway Pizza, Trade Men’s Wares, Womb Gallery, Iguana Grill, S&B’s Burger Joint, etc.)
- The Garage Lofts (A great option for carless living, due to its proximity to transit options)
- OU Medical (OU Children’s Hospital, et. al.)
- OU College of Public Health
- Veteran’s Administration Hospital (with its 18 American flags out front!!)
- Mary McGuire Plaza Senior Citizen Center
- Phillips Park (This is a great one with playgrounds, swings, basketball courts, and a large covered picnic area!)
- Marcus Garvey Charter School
- NAACP Center
- NE 23rd St. at MLK Blvd (Buy 4 Less, CVS, Family Dollar, Ralph Ellison Library, fast food options)
- Pitts Park

Stay tuned for the rest of the bus routes, as well as the updates to the system set to occur this season. We hope that you will use this information to get out of your car and take advantage of the very affordable transit system in OKC. The more people who use it, the greater the likelihood of large-scale improvements!


  1. A dear friend of mine used to have a blog,, before he left for the Peace Corps. I'm so, so glad someone has picked up the proverbial torch and brought this issue back to social media. I'm an instructor at OU, but I commute from the city to Norman by bus. My fiance has a car, but I haven't owned a car myself for four years, now, and have learned to work the bus system quite well! Thank you for your blog!!

    1. It's always great to meet another carless person in OKC. I did notice that there was a defunct web address for a CarlessinOKC from around 2009, and wondered who the creator was.

      By the way, your poetry on your blog is very good!

  2. I felt kind of stupid for this but... what took me years to figure out (even though I can read a bus map and use public transit abroad just fine) is that I can get on a bus at a transfer point.

    I have 2 routes that go by my house, route 10 and route 23. Route 23 has a bus stop very close to my house, but I'd have to walk about a mile to get to the stop for bus 10 (the one I'd need). I kept looking at that other stop, and realized it was a transfer point on the bus route map. But still I thought that meant I could only get on bus 10 if I was getting off of bus 23 and vice-versa. You know, if I was transferring. Finally (out of annoyance I think) I called the Transit center and asked. The lady on the phone sounded very annoyed with me and said of COURSE i could get on bus 10 if I was not getting off of bus 23 at that stop, even though that stop is listed on the route map as a transfer (and not a stop). So all this time the stop I needed was right by my house.

    5 years it took me to figure that out. Five. Slightly embarassing.

    1. Yikes! It'd be really nice if there was a map with all the bus stops that explained what lines they service. I'm trying to work toward putting that together sometime. Right now the maps just have the time points and lists the transfers, but the whole system can be confusing.

  3. Ever since moving to the City in 2011, I've toyed with the idea of commuting to work by bus. Y'all have inspired me to seriously give it a go: I've deemed next month Transit Month and I intend to make my weekly commute by bus all through the month of February. I'll keep you posted on my progress! (Route 5 is my commuter route, by the way.)

    1. This is awesome! I'm glad we could inspire you to try out transit. It will take a little getting used to, but I think a month of it will definitely let you get the hang of it. Do keep us posted.