The Cherokee Nation is receiving a $281,250 grant from the Federal Transit Administration for five new transit vehicles that will replace older vans and expand services in Tahlequah and Pryor.
Cherokee Nation’s Department of Transportation program is one of only three tribal programs in Oklahoma and one of 36 total projects in 14 states to receive one of the FTA’s Tribal Transit Program grants. Tribal Transit Program funds help tribes like the Cherokee Nation connect citizens to jobs, health care, school and other necessary services.
Cherokee Nation will replace three older transit vans, which currently provide employment-based commuter routes from Salina to Catoosa, Sallisaw to Tahlequah, and Tahlequah to Catoosa. The tribe will also expand its demand response, known as curb-to-curb service, in Tahlequah and Pryor with two more new transit vans. The five new vans are expected to be delivered by the fall of 2019.
“Providing safe, reliable transportation options has allowed the Cherokee Nation to help our citizens connect to quality jobs, education, vital medical appointments and many other services that improve their lives,” said Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden. “It’s a blessing to know we are now able to upgrade our transit fleet and provide expanded services in areas where they are most needed.”
Cherokee Nation contracts with Ki Bois Area Transit System, Pelivan Transit, Muskogee County Transit, and Cimarron Public Transit to provide low-cost transportation throughout the tribe’s northeastern Oklahoma jurisdiction. Native Americans and tribal employees can access rides on fixed routes and on demand service transit buses for $1 round trip. In fiscal year 2018, the Cherokee Nation’s transit services provided 107,712 rides, an increase of more than 5,500 rides compared to FY 2017.
Commuter routes are open to the public for those who need transportation to specified locations within established timeframes. Demand-response routes are open to the public for individuals who are unable to use commuter routes and who do not qualify for Sooner Ride or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Destinations for these curb-to-curb service routes include places of employment, governmental facilities, health care facilities, financial institutions and grocery stores nearest to the pickup location.
“Partnerships with agencies like the Federal Transit Administration are a win-win for the Cherokee Nation and our citizens,” said Michael Lynn, director of Cherokee Nation’s Department of Transportation. “We appreciate this grant opportunity and look forward to getting our five new transit vans online and serving our communities throughout the Cherokee Nation later this year.”
Tribal Transit Program grants are competitive. This year, 50 proposed projects from 47 tribes in 16 states were considered for a federal grant. The Federal Transit Administration ultimately awarded a total of $5 million in funding to 36 projects.
“The Federal Transit Administration is committed to helping tribal residents with their transportation needs,” FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said in a press release. “We’re proud to support investments in their transit systems, which provide access to essential services.”
In 2018, the Cherokee Nation used a FTA grant worth more than $321,500 to provide six new transit vans to the four transit service companies that contract with the tribe.
To learn more about Cherokee Nation transit routes, schedules and fares, log on to https://transit.cherokee.org.