The MAPS 3 proposal provides a substantive, responsible first step toward a comprehensive regional transit system. If there is any one element in MAPS that is truly and defiantly "citizen initiated," it is the MAPS transit proposal.
Undoubtedly, for many years, grassroots activism has surrounded the desire for a workable local and commuter transit system. These volunteer community leaders should be commended for their dedication to many lost opportunities in the past. More engagement and bigger vision may have given birth to a reasonable system earlier.
But today, we know more. Oklahoma City has evolved. Our needs have changed and become more defined. The hurdles in attracting federal funding are more identifiable. The needed transit education of suburban leaders and collaboration with our sister cities in Edmond, Norman, Moore, Del City and Midwest City is rapidly expanding the possibilities of moving dreams forward.
However, transit investment needs an extreme "kick start." In 2005, authorities commissioned a regional study. Out of that study emerged one of the most beautiful, engaging and community-spirited concepts that perfectly meshes with the "forward-thinking" progress we expect out of MAPS.
If voters approve the initiative on Tuesday, Oklahoma City will be fourth in the United States to experience the extreme positive energy derived from installing a modern electric streetcar system and transit center. Quiet, elegant and undeniably "world-class," our system may end up being the largest in America.
The funds allocated to the streetcar and transit hub promise improved opportunities for federal funding and an exciting re-introduction of "real transit" to car bound Oklahomans. Expensive to install, but cheap to operate, this opportunity provides a touchable and appreciable first start to creating a world-class regional system.
Anyone who feels the effect of ever-rising gasoline prices, experiences the difficulties of conveniently and cheaply parking downtown, or is challenged by the loss of independence, will be able to take solace that an approved MAPS ensures a down payment on a brighter transportation future.
Our visitors arriving on Amtrak or future high-speed rail will find an attractive, efficient and welcoming technological marvel awaiting them at the transit center to take them to their final destination.
The political and infrastructure losses from past decisions are painful. However, they are remarkable learning experiences that have shaped the current proposal into a well-designed masterpiece. Every citizen should feel confident in embracing the MAPS proposal and vote "yes."
"Jeff Bezdek, Oklahoma City
Bezdek is director of the Modern Transit Project.