Ridin’ the Eddy

Save Gas with Edmond’s Trolly Bus System
With the skyrocketing cost of gasoline, many central Oklahomans are searching for less-expensive means of travel. One local option, of course, is public transportation – specifically, the “Eddy,” Edmond’s trolley bus system, which transports passengers to a number of locations throughout the city.

Stops include several shopping and entertainment sites, as well as apartment complexes and community organizations. The Eddy routes are linked with Express Route 37, which travels to and from downtown Oklahoma City. Riding the trolley can save passengers a lot of money, too.

Edmond students, UCO students and UCO faculty and staff may travel on the Eddy for free, with a valid ID. Special patrons, including those age 60 and older, those who are disabled (valid ID required) and Medicare cardholders pay a 25-cent fare, as do children ages 6-17. For everyone else, the fare is 50 cents.

City Councilman Wayne Page said he thinks the Eddy system is good for Edmond. “I support it – I think it’s great,” he said. “We’ve come a long way in the past five to eight years, providing alternative transportation and changing our way of thinking.” The Eddy has been operating on its current routes since March 2004.

The city chose the trolley-style buses to fit Edmond’s personality, Page said. “We wanted to maintain Edmond as a destination place – to develop the downtown and try to save it. We’ve done that with various programs, including the sidewalks, planters and streetlights, as well as building the Festival Market Place. The trolley theme just seemed a natural fit.”

The trolley buses are smaller than a traditional city bus, Page said, and more energy-efficient.

One goal for the Eddy system was to lighten automobile traffic and lessen parking congestion around the UCO campus, the councilman said. “With a student ID, riding the trolley is free, and ridership is up,” he said.

Figures from the Central Oklahoma Parking and Transit Authority for 2004-05 show that weekday usage of the Eddy was improving even before the current spike in gasoline prices. An average of 72 people rode each day during July through December 2004; during the first six months of 2005, the average had risen to 85. Saturday ridership has maintained an average of about 75 people per day.
During this period, the highest weekday usage was during April 2005, and peak Saturday usage was in August 2004.

UCO provides about $70,000 per year for the Eddy system and Route 37. The city’s share of the subsidy is around $170,000 annually. Students and residents from all parts of the city can find a convenient route to and from many destinations.

Eddy routes include a Broncho Bus line, an addition to the Green Line, which serves the UCO campus area for the convenience of students who live in nearby apartment complexes.

Maroon and Gold Lines stop at Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Albertson’s, and downtown Edmond, as well as the HOPE Center, UCO and several apartment buildings.

Specific schedule information is available online at www.gometro.org, or by phone at 235-RIDE. Schedules are also posted at each Eddy stop.

Plans for the Eddy’s future, Page said, include providing transportation for individual functions in Edmond. The buses are currently in the middle of a lease/purchase agreement by the city, but when the deal is complete in four to five years, officials hope to expand their versatility.

For example, Page said that one goal is to use the trolleys as shuttles during the Edmond Arts Festival each spring, transporting patrons from the UCO campus or other outlying spots to the downtown area, thereby easing parking problems.

For the person who’s never ridden on the Eddy system, representatives offer this advice: Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes early. When boarding the bus, show the driver the appropriate pass, or drop money into the fare box next to the driver.

Either dollar bills or coins may be used, but the fare boxes do not make change. If too much money is deposited, the rider will receive a “credit card” toward a future ride.

Transfers are free; passengers only need to inform the driver that they will be transferring to another bus. The driver will give a pass, which is good for one hour and 45 minutes and may be used to board any other route during that time.

The Eddy system provides not only a stress-free and money-saving transportation alternative, but a chance to help save the environment – and a few local parking spaces too.

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