Traveling to a new city is always going to be a little stressful. When you aren’t familiar with landmarks or don’t know anyone in the area, you might not be sure how you are going to find your way around the city. This is the void that public transportation attempts to fill for all of its residents and visitors alike, but is that the case for the public transportation system in Tulsa, Oklahoma?
Tulsa, Oklahoma doesn’t have a strong public transportation system. The city relies on a bus system that has few routes and limited hours. Tulsa has attempted to diversify the system in recent years adding a bike share program and a trolley system, but still lacks the system of similar-sized cities.
While it might not have the strongest public transportation system, it may be the only way that you can get around the city if you don’t have a car. With that in mind, here are some tips that I have found to help you squeeze the most that you can out of public transportation in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
How to Ride the Bus
The main public transportation system in Tulsa is its bus system. By using this system, you can get around a good chunk of the city, as well as some of the outlying areas. Tickets to ride the bus cost $1.75 for a one-way trip. You can also purchase a day pass and ride as much as you want for $3.75 a day.
Tickets need to be purchased while boarding either electronically or by using cash. If you plan on using cash, try to have the exact fare, as the buses can provide change but it will be on a “change card” that can only be used for future fares on one of the buses.
There are two main hubs of buses. The main one goes to the northwest corner of Tulsa, and the other goes to the southeast corner of the city. If you want to get to Sand Springs, an area west of Tulsa, you will want to ride the 114 bus line. Most of the bus lines start in downtown Tulsa and move outward from there.
Here is a map of all of the different bus lines in Tulsa. Something to keep in mind is that there are no bus lines that connect directly to Tulsa International Airport. If you need to get to or from the airport, you will need to find an alternate form of transportation. Another thing to remember is that while there is a bus in Broken Arrow, there is no bus line connecting Tulsa to Broken Arrow.
How to Ride the Trolley
A recent addition to Tulsa’s arsenal of public transportation options is a trolley line throughout the downtown area of the city. This line helps to link several businesses and attractions together, giving residents and visitors easy access to each of them. The trolley is funded in part by these businesses, which means that this trolley is free to ride.
The trolley makes a loop around the area that is within its designated route. The trolley’s designated start point is on Archer Street. The trolley begins by weaving through the area until arriving on Cheyenne Avenue. The trolley then travels down Cheyenne Avenue.
Once it reaches 6th street, it turns to the east until it reaches Boston Avenue. It then turns left onto Boston Avenue and heads up to 3rd street. It makes another turn to the east on this road before turning north onto Greenwood Avenue. It follows Greenwood until reaching Archer Street, where it rejoins the street and drives down to its original starting point.
If you want to explore any of the sites in this area of the city, the trolley is the quickest way to do so. Some of these spots include places to get food, including: several bars, Antoinette Bakery, Baxter’s Interurban Grill, Andolini’s Sliced, Joe Momma’s Pizza, and the Rib Club. There are also attractions like: the Brady Theater, Saturn Room, Summit Club, IDL Ballroom, and the Unicorn Club.
However, there are downsides to using the trolley system in Tulsa. The first major issue with the trolley is that it is only available on Fridays and Saturdays. Even on the days that it is running, it only runs during the evening for a few hours. Also, the hours vary depending on the week, especially if there are events happening in the city or there are “closures”.
The trolley’s website boasts that “Remember the trolley can stop anywhere at any time for a ride.”
While this is certainly an interesting idea, it isn’t one that supports the trolley as a reliable form of public transportation. If you don’t know where to wait for the trolley to come by or when it will be stopping, it will be difficult to plan your trip and how you are going to get around Tulsa. In summary, this is a good option if you want some fun memories of your trip or happen to stumble across the trolley while it is running, but don’t plan on relying on it.
How to Use the Bike Share System
One of the other new forms of public transportation in Tulsa is their bike share program. Bike sharing is not something that is unique to Oklahoma, but rather is something that is becoming more popular in many cities around the US. The idea behind a bike share is that a group, usually a private company, will partner with the city to provide a collection of bikes. These bikes can then be rented by residents and visitors to make quick trips around the city.
In Tulsa, the bike share program is run by the company This Machine. This company has provided the city with a fleet of electric-assisted bicycles. These bicycles are spread around the city at various bike stations. To use one of the bikes simply find one of these stations and choose a bike. You will use your phone to scan a QR code on the bike. Using the This Machine app, you can then rent the bike.
There are a variety of payment plans that you can use if you plan on riding one of the bikes. The most common is the pay-as-you-go plan. This plan costs $2 to unlock the bike and also pays for your first 10 minutes of riding. After the first 10 minutes, you will automatically be charged $.15 a minute.
The other major plan is the day pass. This pass costs you $8 upfront but doesn’t have any additional costs after that. This day pass gets you unlimited unlocks as well as 4 hours of ride time that day. If you plan on making multiple short trips in one day, you may want to consider the day pass.
While riding one of these bikes you can ride pretty much anywhere in Tulsa. Remember to wear and helmet and respect other pedestrians as well as the rules of the road. Once you are done with your ride, make sure to return the bike to one of the designated bike stations. Bikes that aren’t left at one of these stations will cause their rider to pay an additional fee.
The biggest issue with these bikes is the cost. Similar programs in other cities tend to be cheaper both to unlock the bike as well as the per minute charge. The fact that a day pass is also limited to 4 hours is also a bit strange. These costs can partially be explained by the time the program has been in place. Since it is a newer program, it will cost a bit more initially, and prices will likely go down as the program becomes more popular.
How to Use the Airport Shuttles
If you are flying into the Tulsa, Oklahoma airport, you might be wondering how you are going to get from the airport into the city. This is a bit of a tricky question. There are no city bus lines connected to the airport, and the other forms of public transit don’t mix well with luggage.
To help with this, many of the hotels in Tulsa provide a free shuttle to and from the airport to help you ease into your trip to the city. However, not all hotels have a shuttle service, so make sure to check with your hotel if this is a service that they offer. If they don’t, you will have to find an alternate way to get to and from the airport, which will likely involve renting a car at the airport.
Is Public Transportation Important in Tulsa, Oklahoma
So, is public transportation important in Tulsa? I would say that it is becoming more important to the city. While they clearly haven’t placed a priority on it in the past, the new additions that they have made to their transportation system in the last few years show that they are aware of the issues the city has.
The bus system was intended to connect downtown to outlying areas of the city. The city is bringing to add more routes to connect the city to itself, and hopefully, they will start to make bus lines to major destinations like the airport soon.
The bike share and trolley have begun to tie the downtown area of town together and make downtown Tulsa an experience. As these programs become more popular, it will become easier to get around Tulsa. While Tulsa currently doesn’t have the strongest public transportation system, in 10 years it will likely have a much more robust system.