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OK, How? When OKC's streetcar breaks free from its wire

Welcome to a special multimedia series where I explain how things work in Oklahoma. Along with this column published in print and online, we also have published a video showing much more content that you can find on our website.

First, we'll take a look at the new Oklahoma City streetcar and how it travels around the city.

Like most streetcars, the one in Oklahoma City is powered externally with wires that run overhead along its track. On top of the car is a pantograph, or "pan," that can be raised to make contact with the live wire.

A circuit is completed through the wheels and into the track, which powers the streetcar.

What people might not realize, however, is that the streetcar often leaves those wires behind and trundles along its route with nothing but itself to provide power.

According to Embark, Oklahoma City's public transit system, the streetcar has batteries that power the streetcar for 40 percent of its route in the city. That's almost two miles, but the streetcar is designed not to run out of juice.

"We started worrying about that a long time ago," said Embark spokesman Michael Scroggins.

To prepare for OKC's design, Embark and its contractor visited the Dallas streetcar, which also goes off its wire. Officials decided on a design that uses regenerative braking and recharging points along the wire to maintain battery capacity.

To learn more about what powers the streetcar, watch a video featuring the cars' home station at NewsOK.com.

Related Photos
<p>An OKC Streetcar travels toward Bricktown. [Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman]</p>

An OKC Streetcar travels toward Bricktown. [Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-56a89424311156193bc0969219e62fb6.jpg" alt="Photo - An OKC Streetcar travels toward Bricktown. [Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman] " title=" An OKC Streetcar travels toward Bricktown. [Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> An OKC Streetcar travels toward Bricktown. [Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-60b8649c23e710e70879ae8f9fe9d1f1.jpg" alt="Photo - [Illustration by Todd Pendleton] " title=" [Illustration by Todd Pendleton] "><figcaption> [Illustration by Todd Pendleton] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0f683488389d50dbae2fb8313a9afcb4.jpg" alt="Photo - [Illustration by Todd Pendleton] " title=" [Illustration by Todd Pendleton] "><figcaption> [Illustration by Todd Pendleton] </figcaption></figure>
Dale Denwalt

Dale Denwalt has closely followed state policy and politics since his first internship as an Oklahoma Capitol reporter in 2006. He graduated from Northeastern State University in his hometown of Tahlequah. Denwalt worked as a news reporter in... Read more ›

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