Streetcar observations, with service set to begin Friday in Oklahoma City
"Oh, it's you."
That was Kharlie Barnaby's reaction when he found out I was the guy who had been following a streetcar around downtown for more than an hour last Tuesday.
Barnaby is general manager of Oklahoma City Streetcar operations for Herzog Transit Services.
The streetcar goes into service Friday, with a grand opening set for 10 a.m. at Leadership Square, 211 N Robinson Ave.
The public is invited. Rides will be free and Embark transit is planning for big crowds throughout the opening weekend.
Safety is a top priority.
To get an idea of how the streetcar will get along in downtown, I followed a green streetcar in 32-degree weather during the lunch hour.
I found that streetcars have headlights, taillights and turn signals, just like the cars they share the road with. Bells ring as the streetcar moves away from a stop or an intersection.
The operator will blow the horn when pedestrians dash in front of the streetcar or motorists waiting at a red light make a quick left to beat the streetcar when the light turns green.
Streetcars have their own traffic signals — the vertical green bar means go, horizontal means stop.
The Robinson Avenue corridor traveling south from NW 10 Street to Sheridan Avenue feels like a tight fit. It is a long slog if you are behind the slow-moving beast.
The streetcar runs on batteries through the heart of the business district, and is powered by overhead wires in Bricktown, Midtown and Automobile Alley.
Knowing the route will help plan trips (once the free period ends in early January, fares will be $1 a ride).
We passed the northbound No. 3 bus on Robinson near the old Central High School.
Again, tight fit.
After a while and, rightfully suspicious, the crew called me in.
Kharlie caught up with me on Sheridan just inside Bricktown.
We rolled down our windows, he saw who it was — the press — and, with a wave and a smile, off he drove.