Not many of us think of it, but when you see a city bus hauling
passengers around town, just think of it as economic development on
That's the word from Larry Hall of the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit
Authority, Randy Hume of MetroTransit in Oklahoma City and Steve
Lalli, director of the Oklahoma Transit Association.
Retailers and employers alike routinely request bus stops as
close to their places of business as possible.
"There was an article in The Journal Record a few years back in
which the head of America Online said the reason Shepherd Mall was
selected as site of the company's Oklahoma City operations was
because of the accessibility of the bus system," Lalli said.
"Transit systems aren't a whole lot in economic development, but a
good system just adds another arrow in the quiver of the economic
"When a company starts looking at a city, one of the things they
look at is whether there is a convenient, reliable and economical
transit system in place."
Beyond the aspect of helping recruit new industries, a transit
system helps existing companies by bringing employees to work, Hume
"We are working with welfare-to-work programs to help those who
don't have transportation get to their work on time," he noted.
Retailers, too, like nearby transit systems.
"When we started our route out to Quail Springs Mall, there was
construction work going on, so we took a detour and had a bus stop
by a Target store," he said. "When the construction was completed
and we started to go back to our original route, the manager of
Target asked us to keep a bus stop there.
"That shows that people will ride the bus to go shopping. If the
bus system didn't bring shoppers to Target, then they wouldn't have
wanted a bus stop right there."
People have traditionally thought of transit systems as being for
the poor, the handicapped or the elderly, Hall said.
"It's true, those groups of people do provide a large segment of
our ridership," Hall said. "But we're getting more and more white-
collar workers taking the bus because it's much more convenient for
Not too long ago, construction on Tulsa freeways forced a change
in the routes to Broken Arrow. Additional buses were brought on
because of demand. Motorists were trying the bus because of all the
"Now that the roads are open again, we've still got those riders
because they are finding it's cheaper and a whole lot less stressful
to ride the bus," Hall said.
Every transit system in the world, "except for maybe one or two
in large tourist areas," is subsidized by local governments, Hall
said. In the United States, most transit systems depend upon federal
money, along with a state and local match to operate the systems. …