Dr. Ed Shadid, (@edshadid) Oklahoma City Ward 2 City Councilman hosted the second in a series of townhall meetings on Tuesday night, February 26th at the Old Farmer's Market (@OKCFMmusic) in Downtown OKC.
Multiple speakers were present. The crowd pushed 300+. The nationally recognized professional urban transit planner, Dr. Jarrett Walker (@humantransit) was a featured speaker.
The basic message given is that Oklahoma is in need of more and more effective transportation alternatives.
Dovetailing this :
1.) That Oklahoma has at least once been refused external funding options because of the lack of diversified funding for existing and requested services and entering a bid that was woefully if not embarrassingly inadequate. All 19 of 20 other bidders were given funding.
2.) That Oklahoma's health, finances, economy and ecology would greatly benefit from short and longterm alternative transportation options.
3.) Existing transportation, planned changes and expansions may not be in line with what is in the best interest of the State and in fact, the methods currently on the table may be detrimental to holding and maintaining any advancements in public transit.
4.) Success of any Oklahoma public transit services calls for and
a) careful and accurate assessment ( check what is being done and what you want to do next),
b) comparative planning (look at what others are doing and consider that with what we have and need for public transport),
c) cautious execution (make plans that can be flexed with new information or resource advancement or retraction, so we can get the most bang for our buck) and
d) public support ( more ridership on existing services is important to sustain pending expansions)
e) all current and pending Transit plans and funding need to function together to make the process a sustainable success. (lets Oklahoma make advancements in transportation and keep it going)
Intial reports of the meeting have been published, on Twitter and over various other new sources.
A couple of other high quality things aren't consistently included, so here's a shot at some of those other aspects.
Dr. Shadid is a fully trained and professionally licensed Medical Doctor. That is actually pretty important. Not only does he have advanced education and cares for humans, he has advanced understanding of critical thought processes necessary for accurate diagnosis and care of problems. So he understands about dissecting an issue, and working to understand the function of the problem in order to best determine reasonable, logical solutions that use resources wisely and come back with top lasting results. It is called "best practices" in medicine, and uses the coveted critical thinking skills often absent in Oklahoma government decisions, procedure and policy. Shadid is not your average bear on the Oklahoma City Council.
Dr. Shadid also has been exposed operating a business by tenets of the Hippocratic Oath, condensed here to "first do no harm" http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/hippocratic-oath-today.html That is a core aspect of professional ethics. Rinse, repeat as above on that absence decisions, procedure and policy thing.
Dr. Shadid also has the foresight to understand that he is not a transportation specialist, hence Dr. Jarrett Walker on the Transit Townhall Meeting playbill. ( he pulled in a specialty consultant to help) Rinse repeat.....et al above
Not only did Dr. Shadid weigh the above, persist in pulling forward these ideas and fact based research and consultations, but he then talked about what may be the final lynch pins in getting it all to better......... got to the show me the money part too.
Dr. Shadid pointed out that existing transit services are supported solely by sales tax revenues and that pretty much no other city in the US of this size ( save Tulsa which operates under same planning) has such a stunted, refractory funding plan.
Dr. Shadid noted that OKC cannot seem to find the 1.5 million dollars needed for simple expansion of MetroTransit (OKC bus service) to include things like Sunday service. Flat out more money is needed to do what needs to be done. Those dollars need to come from well thought out sources that themselves will flex and grow as Oklahoma Transit needs grow. See the prior article http://www.examiner.com/article/okc-transit-townhall-meeting-a-success
Dr. Shadid noted that current use of sales tax in Oklahoma County is split between a number of things, and that bus services are not a line item in the budget, nor is there any alternative funding of any kind, nor any plan for same. Dr. Shadid also noted there may be a pending sales tax increase in the books for Fall 2013 to aid the Oklahoma County Sheriff Whetsel and other basic support service needs in OKC.
Coming from another strategy completely, Dr. Shadid brightly noted that currently, the State of Oklahoma does not collect sales tax from something as simple as internet transactions with Amazon. These untracked online sales annually generate as much as 12 milllion dollars revenue in in the course of a year. That money sadly is certainly not in hand. So, consumers can consider shopping locally in order to up the sales tax revenues AND asking for the State to collect due online sales tax.
Dr. Shadid does have a point that if sales tax dollars are supposed to be coming to Public Transit expansions and sustenance anyway..... and this suggestion kicked in, surely some percentage of that would come through and answer these questions. Then Public Transit would not have to dickered to obtain and use ..... right?
.... as Dr. Benjamin Franklin would say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.....
There are currently no Foundations regarding Oklahoma Public Transit, and Oklahoma has no grants in hand from the United States Federal Government or any non-profit due to the lack of sophistication in current funding plans for expansion or maintenance of the existing transition.
Proper best practices assessment, ethics and integrity in planning, honesty and efficacy in execution. Integration of new and relevant changes.... What Dr. Shadid basically said was, Trust me to look at what is in place, consider what needs to be done and make adjustments which are in the best interest of the City, the citizens and the Transit service... instead of locking into current plans which appear to be fatal in nature.
Dr. Shadid has done his Oklahoma City Transit homework with some "A" lister help. Oklahoma City cannot buoy the transit problem without a systematic methodical plan such as his.