The Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority (Tulsa Transit) was formed in August 1968 by the City of Tulsa with $60,000 in start-up funding. Tulsa Transit was set up as a public trust to continue the operations of the private bus service that had been run by the Missouri, Kansas & Oklahoma bus company (MK&O Lines). The Authority’s administration is overseen by a seven member Board of Trustees.
As in other mid-western metropolitan areas, bus ridership was heavy during the 1970’s, but with low gasoline prices and relatively inexpensive cars, people began to drive more personal miles. They also began to move farther away from the central core of the city, and average commute distances increased. All of these things put more emphasis on the automobile as the primary means of transportation.
In 1998 Tulsa Transit opened the Denver Avenue Station located at 4th and Denver in down town Tulsa. By the end of the twentieth century Tulsa Transit was providing 3.1 million annual one-way passenger trips.
In July 2001, the Memorial Mid-town Station was opened at 33rd & Memorial to facilitate better cross-town passenger movement. Two months later the September 11th terrorist attacks preceded a national economic downturn which had a dramatic negative impact on the operations of the City of Tulsa. Department budgets were cut and Tulsa Transit was hit hard. Bus service hours were cut 50%. Over the years since 2001 most of these service hours have been added back.
Today public transit usage is on the rise as people look for ways alternatives to the automobile. In April 2016 the citizens of Tulsa approved Vision Tulsa, a multi-project continuation of an existing sales tax. Among the many projects funded by Vision Tulsa was a dedicated sales tax for public transit. The four initial transit projects supported by the tax will be a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line on Peoria, a second BRT on 11th Street, an expansion of the downtown circulator to include midtown and the Gathering Place, and Sunday bus service. These new services will greatly improve the public transit system in our city.
Number of Fixed Route buses operated – 66
Number of Lift Program vehicles operated – 45
Annual Fixed Route trips provided – 3 million
Annual Lift Program trips provided – 120,000
Service area covered – 199 square miles
Annual operating budget – $18 million
Number of employees – 175