EMBARK successfully arranged a contract amendment with long-time partner Hornblower Marine Services (HMS), to restore partial operations of Oklahoma River Cruises through a public-private partnership.
Owned and managed by the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority (COTPA)/EMBARK, ferry operations and maintenance of the cruisers have been contracted to HMS since the fall of 2007.
The long-standing relationship proved advantageous, as an agreement was reached, providing that HMS lease the boats to run river tours, cocktail cruises, and private charters.
“With transit, resiliency and dependability is key, regardless of the mode,” said Jason Ferbrache, EMBARK Administrator. “HMS has provided that dependability for Oklahoma River Cruises for over ten years and now with the furtherance of the public-private partnership will demonstrate resiliency with a return to service.
HMS CEO Matt Miller says the strong partnership between EMBARK and HMS created an opportunity for the continuation of Oklahoma River Cruises.
“Since the formation of Oklahoma River Cruises in 2007, our team has been able to aid EMBARK in the operation and management of this continually growing transit service,” said Miller. “With this agreement reached, EMBARK and HMS – as a partner – further the commitment to connecting people with their community.”
Continued improvements are on the horizon for Oklahoma River Cruises, as enhancements are made at Meridian and Stockyard Landings. Additionally, a $4 million grant was recently received to create a new landing near the First Americans Museum, set to open in September 2021.
In July 2020, EMBARK temporarily suspended Oklahoma River Cruises and Spokies Bike Share Event with the partial resumption of these service lines, EMBARK is still able to reduce its operating budget by approximately $500,000 this fiscal year.
Spokies Bike Share will also return this fall as demand is up and serving the community by providing healthy, affordable, and eco-friendly transit options fundamental to EMBARK’s mission.