Steve Lackmeyer is mad at the OKC Streetcar…

I guess the streetcar’s honeymoon is officially over.

On New Year’s Eve, while thousands and thousands and thousands of people congregated in downtown Oklahoma City to eat, drink and Thunder in the new year, town curmudgeon Steve Lackmeyer decided to give the new Oklahoma City streetcar a #BigLeagueCity try and use it to maneuver around the cold and crowded streets of downtown.

Sounds like a great idea, huh?

Well, not according to this tweet:

I guess Steve was mad because the arrival times listed on the signs at the Streetcar platform stops were off by thirty minutes or more. Like an impatient dad barking at a hostess at Chili’s for a long wait time, Steve complained to the manager:

That sucks. I lose my shit when DoorDash says my order will arrive in five minutes, and then changes to a 10 minute estimation three minutes later, so I can see why Steve was mad. If the arrival times for the streetcar are not providing reliable information, they should either be turned off or provide additional guidance like “Who the Fuck Knows When It’s Coming” or “You’re Better Off Walking.”

That being said, Steve should take some personal responsibility and admit that depending on a brand-new, glitchy streetcar that’s only been in operation a few weeks to maneuver you around the cold streets of Oklahoma City on the busiest night of the year isn’t the best idea. That’s as smart as a college kid getting into the newspaper business! If you’re freezing your ass off for 30 minutes waiting for a crowded train to take you three blocks down the street, that’s on you.

Instead of complaining about the operations, Steve just needs to be honest with himself and see the streetcar for what it is and will probably always be – a $120-million mass transit novelty that’s more of a fancy civic toy than a practical way to move large crowds of people around downtown in an efficient manner. The streetcar has to share the roads with cars and pedestrians, and can be halted to a stop by one idiot parking slightly over a white line. The ruling class wanted a streetcar because it will look good in the next Chamber video or national magazine article about MAPS, not to move people from Bricktown to Midtown on New Year’s Eve. That’s what cars are for.

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47 Responses

  1. Instead of a novelty pink snow cone looking street car, perhaps Okc should have watched what Dallas-Ft. Worth just showcased this past weekend — an expansion of Amtrak. A REAL train. I just returned from the Cape Cod/Boston area of Mass. and their Amtrak is never late because people depend on it to get to work, meet airport flight schedules, etc. All traffic yields to Amtrak. I realize the ‘street car’ is just for Downtown Okc and to have pretty pictures for the Chamber of Commerce to try to entice new business — but if a ‘street car’ has to stop at every red light, like a car — it’s never going to be on time. And while I’m talking about Amtrak, WHY didn’t we put in a train to loop the city – from Norman to Shawnee to Edmond to Yukon? Instead we are getting a new turnpike that’s so expensive and forced so many people out of their homes.

    1. Amtrak has to yield to freight trains homie..

    2. Dallas ALSO has a streetcar. Same exact model, in fact. There is a place for both.

      1. Dallas only has 2.2 miles of Street Car. Unlike OKC, they knew that bringing people Downtown WITHOUT cars was the key. They light rail first. The Street Car was originally only 1 mile long and gas been expanded to 2.2 mikes.
        The city also sold the land that used to be a street car terminal and necessary to connect our street car to light rail for private parking.

        We built a transit system that you have to drive 8 miles, spend $8 to park, walk a block, pay a dollar to go five more blocks.

        1. Someone fix my typos. :/

    3. Dude, AMTRACK can be very late. I was a full 24 hours late on an AMTRAK once. Not sure where you got the idea that AMTRAK is the pinnacle of on-time

      1. The Amtrak service that runs very nearly on time is the route serving the Northeast corridor of the United States. Despite many problems it has reliably provided timely service to literally millions of riders over the years.

  2. Oh, forgot to mention the new turnpike will probably be under constant construction like the Turner turnpike and we’ll still have to pay to drive on it. Okc needs to learn to think big and ahead. After all, Bricktown isn’t the ONLY spot in Oklahoma.

    1. Yet they continue to pour every dime into the same 6 block radius, and we let them.

      1. I believe 1/5 of the States GDP is generated from downtown OKC / innovation district.

        If that small area is producing 20% of all the economic activity in this state we should keep pouring money into that area.

        Oklahoma allows decisions to be made based on people’s feelings instead of facts.

        1. Not true. I would love to see any data source that can begin to demonstrate how this 20% figure holds water.

    2. Complain about toll roads…and your loop train will not charge a fare…oh and it’s right-of-way will leave a smaller footprint then a toll road??? What the Duce?

  3. The first MAPS projects that I voted “NO” on.

  4. I’d love for the streetcar to start to mimic New Orleans’s in function. It was nice having public transport as an actual viable way to get around the city. Even if it never connected to the suburbs, it’d be nice to be able to park in one place then visit different parts of the city without fighting the continuously changing road construction.

    Unfortunately, they don’t seem to actually want the street car to be a transport system right now.

  5. When I can ride to Edmond from my home in Morre and back…or the airport then it’s mass transit. Now it’s a train between whatever trendy bar or restaurant is operating at the moment.

  6. The public was sold a dream and our con-man politicians promised to make it work. What could possibly go wrong? Now the shill that helped sell the dream is upset that our politicians weren’t able to fulfill that promise.

    If this was “for the people” there might have been provisions for a park and ride location, to help with the traffic congestion downtown. But since the powerful and the government own lots downtown, well that wouldn’t be a good idea. The citizens just need to do what the street car was designed to do, take them to events downtown and keep the downtown restaurants profitable. Plus that street car will look really cool on the material that the city uses to get all those huge conventions that we will get from the street cars and the tax giveaways to subsidize downtown.

    The city screwed up when they put a monitor when the streetcar will arrive knowing it was just fantasy and made to look like they knew how to keep it on a schedule. Mass transit can work, the MARTA in Atlanta works very well and the estimated times are pretty accurate. However this requires that a city work for its citizens and not the other way around as it does in OKC.

    But I’m sure the next MAPS tax will fix all the problems that the previous MAPS tax created. That is how the Oklahoma Standard works

  7. As for Amtrak having to yield to freight trains, that battle is being fought in the courts and the freight trains are losing. Courts are concluding that people are more important than freight. I’ve been on several Amtrak trains in Mass and NY and their scheduled arrival times are almost always accurate.

    Oklahoma is not a huge state. Amtrak would be very beneficial here, especially between Tulsa and Oklahoma – and for loop around the metro. My Mom tells me Okc used to have great street cars during the late 40’s. Sometimes we seem to be going backwards instead of forwards.

  8. * I meant between Tulsa and Okc ……

  9. Eeek! Seems people are very eager to jump on the haterade bandwagon when one person, albeit the most powerful civic happenings megaphoner, writes a few negative tweets.

    Before someone accuses me of being a “blind supporter”, a “koolaid drinker”, I voted against this MAPS. It was the first MAPS I voted against and I voted against it because of this very project. I didn’t see the cost-benefit value in it at all, and I still don’t.

    HOWEVER – its the first month of the service, running for free, trying to handle its first big crowds. Give them a break. Give them some time. They have an opportunity to make it right. Give them the chance to do it. Hopefully they can get it together.

    1. I don’t think most people are complaining about the schedule. It’s the limited service it offers. You have to drive to the streetcar to ride it like an amusement park ride then drive back home.

      1. I guess that’s true?? Mr. Lackmeyermeiermayer’s tweets were about the schedule, then people piled their gripes with the system onto that. I guess.

        But to go with your complaint and a couple other people’s complaints, I have a question for you: How would you envision this dream system of starting? Should they have spent the $135M on getting that one leg all the way from Edmond to downtown? (Even though that’s basically impossible because you are asking for OKC taxpayers to fund something that overwhelmingly benefits Edmond residents). Maybe a leg to Norman instead? Or Moore? Or Shawnee? Maybe they should have spent the money to embiggen the existing train station for more trains that don’t make money or need to be subsidized further?

        Or … or… or….

        Maybe we get the downtown portion working first. You , know for a win, show the public what is possible. Then maybe later, do joint projects with suburban cities to fund park and rides that connect to the downtown streetcar. Like… a multimodal urban transportation system.

        “As a result, in 2009 Oklahoma City voters said “yes” to a $135-million modern transit initiative to build a modern streetcar system and multimodal transportation hub.”

        My apologies for sounding so negative. I just wonder sometimes about general citizenry. This shit doesn’t just spring from nowhere. It starts somewhere. It doesn’t just blink into existence. It takes time.

        1. Dear Cid, thanks for being our Daddy. I guess we “regular Joes” are just too stupid to plan responsibly. Thank God we have folks who are stealthy enough to hoodwink us into paying for a giant Disney World People Mover so that 50-100 years from now we might actually have a decent mass transit. Frankly the cost of the tram was chump change. Want the Metro to grow? How ’bout you geniuses use those considerable powers of persuaion and get us to form a regional, multicity/county government that’ll have a helluva a lot more muscle and money to get stuff done. Or is that one life too many for you?

          1. You are welcome! Have a nice day!

          2. You know that’s happening right? Moore, Norman, Edmond, OKC, Del City, and Midwest City City councils all voted to form a Regional Transit Authority last year.

        2. I think it’s a great start. Sure you have to drive to it to ride it. However We drive down to the areas it services now before the Streetcar. This just enhances mobility for those that do. It will expand and be bigger.

          1. Exactly. It doesn’t solve every problem and it never will. Let’s give it a chance.

    2. It was a Map 3 project. It ranked one of the highest items voters cited, but we all had the beginnings of light rail or something that served to keep cars away from downtown and the then fledgling midtown in mind.
      No one really wanted the convention center either, but it was in the package deal.
      Granted light rail is exponentially more expensive and right of ways a challenge, but I. Light of that, the original layout going from west downtown through brick town to OUHSC and the capital made a lot of sense in regards to connecting these areas and reducing traffic. It could have also been connected easily to light rail going from Edmond to Norman in the vicinity of of I-35 and 235 and the same along I-40 (they left one corridor from the old railrroad tracks) from Yukon to Tinker. In addition, the city sold the land that served that function until 3 score or so decadesago AFTER we knew we were doing this version for a privately owned parking garage.
      Dallas’s DART was an excellent road map to follow if their was the will. This was just the cheapest way the MAPS board could close the book on MAPS 3.

  10. I hate to sound like an old fart but Steve has a point. This was a great time for the street car to shine. The city knew it was going to be busy. Poor planning. If people had a negative experience then the next time they might opt to not even try to use the new street cars.
    I live in the ‘burbs and it would be nice to have a park and ride lot (I would pay a normal amount). The street cars should be efficient – stopping at every red light is not efficient. Hell, I can get there faster in my car or walking. If it is too much effort then I just won’t go. I sound cranky but I am much more open then a lot of folk my age (btw we have money to spend).

    1. I was thinking the same thing! I think the streetcar needs to dictate traffic lights to make it a viable method of transportation. Unfortunately, I can walk faster than the streetcar right now.

      1. Probably won’t happen – the red light thing.

        For a real streetcar experience, go to Melbourne, Australia. The city never tore up its streetcars from the previous century (unlike most US cities and towns). Melbourne has 160 miles (one hundred and sixty) of streetcars.

        Most small cities in Oklahoma (I’m familiar with McAlester) had streetcars pre-automotive area. Same with interurban rail. Tore it all up. If only we could have seen the future.

  11. That Girl, it does sound like one could walk faster than the new street car. 🙂 Like New York City where it’s sometimes faster to walk than take a taxi.

  12. I used the streetcar on NYE—decided to park (and eat) in Midtown and then ride on down to the arena.

    Pre-game = Very easy. Streetcar arrived right as we walked to platform. Another one was (reportedly) 7 minutes behind. Lots of room on board.

    Post-game = difficult. Post-game traffic + NYE revelers. Car was very crowded. They were obv getting backed-up at the light/under-pass leaving Bricktown on Reno, so we waited a while longer than the provided estimate. I’d bet this is the time-abouts that SL was waiting, too.

    Oh well. I’ll just expect them to be a little rough when there’s post-game traffic. I’ll def use again, however.

  13. $120 mil would have been a great starting pot for a true mass transit with a central hub in downtown and service to Edmond, MWC, Moore/Norman, and Yukon. THAT would truly alleviate traffic congestion downtown if people could park and ride in, the. maybe later a streetcar would be beneficial, but it’s not like our downtown is “that” big

    1. Edmond, Norman, Moore, Del city, Midwest City, and OKC city councils voted to form a Regional Transit authority ;ast year that will do exactly that! Gotta start somewhere and starting with a streetcar just made the most sense as a starting point bacxk when the vote was proposed.

  14. I didn’t vote for it or any MAPS (I don’t live in OKC) but here’s the reality. Lackmeyer’s bitch should have taken into account that yes, it’s new. It’s going to take time to work out the bugs and kinks in the system. Saying “they should’ve known it was going to be slammed and been prepared” still won’t take the place of experience for the personnel or the system. It just takes time. The city has already said that in order to synchronize the lights, it’s going to take $ for a new system and they’re working on getting it done. It’s going to take time and I’m sure they wanted to get something for the taxpayers to see in 2018. Be patient.
    Those who say it should be a transit hub with service to all the surrounding suburbs. Nice idea, but MAPS is a city project, funded by city $’s. I’m not sure the citizens of OKC would be for funding a rail system to Moore/Norman or Edmond. You couldn’t even do it on a county basis. Moore/Norman is in Cleveland county, Mustang/Yukon in Canadian. It’s going to take a much more complicated funding source than MAPS to get that done.
    If you follow the project, even casually, you would know that amenities like Park & Ride as well as expansion are on the table for the future. The Downtown & Bricktown loops are truly a 1st step.
    As for all the naysayers who said it should’ve been buses or the like, I can tell you, as a suburbanite, I will ride the street car. A bus? Nope, and I’m fairly certain I’m in the majority on that one.

  15. Steve and I are about the same age, and I have to admit I’m having more “Get off my lawn, ya damn kids” moments than I’d care to admit. So it is altogether possible he’s being a curmudgeon, and that he’s right at the same time.

    Traffic flow – including the streetcars – is certainly a bigger issue than it was 10-15 years ago. I do know the city is in discussions with a company that makes street light sensors that are far more capable than the ones currently installed. For example, the newest models can sense when a car is approaching an intersection at a high rate of speed and extend the yellow light to reduce accidents. It can also tell if a driver’s vision may be blocked by a large vehicle directly in front of it. We’ve all been behind a semi going into an intersection, leaving you uncertain whether the light is still green. Again, these sensors can adjust for that. I think they would also have the capability of adjusting lights for the streetcars, though drivers might have to get used to only certain lanes having a green light.

  16. I can see him in my mind,sporting a white straw hat in a red and white striped jacket,shaking his cane angrily while his upper lip flutters like a flag in full gale.
    Is this the stereotypical embodiment of enwhitelment?
    Does this make me a reverse racist?
    I am so confused.
    Dash you,Lost Ogle!

  17. Halcyon, I’m no Amtrak expert as I’ve only used it in Mass and New York where I found it always to be on time. And …. I’m not a dude 🙂

  18. The Street Car System was funded by a tax increase.
    With all this bitching, maybe the republicans are correct in opposing ALL tax increases.

  19. Funny thing is all the new scooters in town have been very helpful at no cost to the city as far as I know but 120 million plus the upkeep I give them 1 year unless what other people are saying the service greatly expands

    Smith move okc

    Logan smith

  20. I can’t imagine why 7 cars that hold a little more than 100 people were overwhelmed by more than 100,000 people celebrating NYE, a Thunder game, and other assorted revelries. Who could imagine?

    That the streetcar had 55,000 in less than two weeks is a positive sign.

    Traffic signal priority can be fixed. Real-time GPS can be fixed. This stuff can be fixed.

    Mr. Lackmeyer’s personal grudges and desire for attention cannot be fixed by anyone other than Mr. Lackmeyer.

  21. 30 minutes really is an unacceptable amount of time to deviate from a schedule in my opinion. Add to that the fact that in typical Oklahoma-style, the city cheaped-out on the streetcar by only building a one-way route, so if you take the thing somewhere to to eat you cannot go out and catch another streetcar back to where you began, you have to either hoof-it back or ride the damn thing all the way around its loop for an hour, which is absolutely ridiculous from a service perspective. But as I said they cheaped-out and said “This will get us by for now and in 25 years we might come back and build the rest when it will cost 25 times more”. Typical Oklahoma.

  22. I grew up in Chicago with the CTA, so the last (30) years in OK have me somewhat acclimated to the poor job some cities such as OKC, Austin, etc have done to not keep up with growth/demand.

    Was anyone else in Dallas for the Red River Shootout the first year the DART was running? We always stay up by 635 and I was thrilled for the train that year. I researched, pre-purchased online, stayed walking distance from the Walnut stop, and BOY! Was it ever disappointing. It was nearly a two hour miserable, standing room only, smelly ride, trains stopped for (30) minutes at a time for foot traffic, other trains, etc. I have taken it in subsequent years, and they have figured it out (run gameday express trains right to the fairgrounds, better staging, etc).

    I was also in Denver this July for Eagles/Buffett. After waiting in massive crowds for the train back to the burbs, they announced the ‘last train of the night’. Uber and Lift upcharges were $200. 15 miles is a little far to walk so, thousands of ppl were screwed.

    Just saying I think it’s predictable that (7) cars that hold slightly over 100 ppl vs a crowd of 100,000 will fail. That said, it’s understandable people didn’t anticipate the problem. Everyone has a natural sense of expectation that any public transportation will conveniently transport them, screw the other 99,999 in line 🙂 I hope the city irons out the wrinkles. They’ve already incurred so much expense and the patrons have incurred the painful street construction, I’d like to see it succeed on some level.

  23. How hard would it be to mount a strobe on the car that turns its traffic light green until it clears an upcoming intersection like ambulances and fire trucks have?

    Also need a plow on the front that can shove parked cars out of the way.

  24. Don’t forget a police or fire d. ept. emergency could block the tracks for hours

  25. All” Big League Cities” have one thing in common, the beauty is only skin deep.

  26. Go to Gothenburg or Stockholm or dozens of other European cities where streetcars aren’t novelties and are seriously good.

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