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Mass Transit Will Help Tulsa Attract and Retain Young Adults

The development of a mass transit system with light rail and Bus Rapid Transit (BRTs) will help Tulsa attract and retain young adults.

At the today’s PLANiTULSA session at the BOk Center a majority of the tables who presented their findings emphasized the importance of a mass transit system for attracting and retaining young adults, much needed for the growth and success of Tulsa’s growth economy and quality lifestyle.

Each table was given a giant map of Tulsa and four packets of stickers.  Each group could only open one packet of stickers to use on their map.

The four packets of sticker choices were:

  1. Trend — Do nothing.  Just move where we’ve been going.
  2. Economic Growth — Empower emerging key industries
  3. Empower Neighborhoods — Make sure neighborhoods grow and prosper to empower entrepreneurial vitality
  4. Attract and Retain Young Adults — Give young people what they want and they will move to Tulsa (or come back to Tulsa) and help drive our economy

There were two 17-year old girls at my table, Claire and Hannah.  Their input was both exciting and informative for the other five of us at our table.  It was a privilege to have participated with them and to hear their input.

There were several hundred people attending this session and most of the participants were “middle aged,” much older than Claire and Hannah.  Actually there was a nice cross section among age groups.  Nevertheless, most groups who presented their “stickered-up maps” chose to empower neighborhoods or to attract and retain young adults.

A big theme that emerged in how to attract and retain young adults was that emphasis has to be placed on developing a light rail system or a BRT (bus rapid transit).  Mass transit emerged as being crucial to Tulsa’s strategic planning.

The development of mass transit (light rail or BRT) with central hubs at both downtown Tulsa and at the intersection of I-44 and the Broken Arrow Expressway had many different permutations among the groups who presented.   Destinations included:  Claremore, Owasso, Broken Arrow, Jenks, Sand Springs, Brookside, North Tulsa, the Airport, and the Promenade Mall.  Most groups felt it was important to make use of existing rights-of-way along the Frisco line, the Union Pacific line, or the lines that no longer have tracks on them.

Along these mass transit routes participants developed a rich urban environment, including villages and high-density housing options mixed with light office and retail for entrepreneurial lifestyles.

One group emphasized the importance of developing a strong artery along the full length of Peoria from 71st Street straight up through North Tulsa.  This would capture the heartbeat of Tulsa.  My table thought this plan was very equitable and would encourage growth throughout the city.

What did you hear at the PLANiTULSA session you attended?

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