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Norman City Council approves agreement with EMBARK to operate public transit system

Norman City Council voted to approve a contract with EMBARK to operate the City’s recently acquired public transit system during a City Council Special Session tonight.  The agreement renews annually subject to both parties’ mutual agreement.

“Great cities provide quality public transit options for their residents. While this change was unexpected, we were successful in maintaining service throughout the transition,” said Mayor Breea Clark. “I look forward to working with my Council colleagues and Norman residents on improving the current service and creating a public transit system that better serves our community's needs going forward.”
EMBARK, the same company that operates Oklahoma City’s public transportation system, will take over the operation of fixed-route service from CART beginning August 3. CART will continue to operate paratransit service until October 1 when EMBARK will assume responsibility. Paratransit service is a shared-ride public transportation service for people who are unable to utilize local bus service due to a medically documented disability. 
Throughout the August 5 – October 31 transition, fares will not be collected on either fixed-route or paratransit service.
“Our top priority throughout this transition process has been to ensure that Norman residents who depend on the bus system would not see a change to their level of service,” said Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary. “We are pleased that we’ve been able to work out an agreement with the cooperation of CART and EMBARK to achieve that goal with no gaps in service.”
Council also voted to approve the purchase of 28 public transportation vehicles from the University of Oklahoma for $327,274.51 in total. These include four large used buses, 17 small used buses or vans, five used supervisor vehicles, and two new large buses. The cost of a single new fixed-route bus is about $500,000. Fixed-route buses typically last 12 years and can have as many as 600,000 miles upon retirement.
An agreement with OU to lease office space, service bays, fleet storage and garage space for the operation of the public transit system was also approved by Council.