Cherokee Nation receives $281K grant to add 5 transit vans

BY STAFF REPORTS
02/24/2019 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation is receiving a $281,250 grant from the Federal Transit Administration for five transit vehicles to replace older vans and expand services in Tahlequah and Pryor.

The tribe’s Department of Transportation is one of three tribal programs in Oklahoma and one of 36 total projects in 14 states to receive a FTA Tribal Transit Program grant. Tribal Transit Program funds help tribes such as the CN connect citizens to jobs, health care, school and other services.

CN officials said they would replace three older transit vans, which 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 new transit vans. The five vans are expected to be delivered by the fall.

“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,” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. “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.”

The CN 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 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 CN 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 consist of 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,” Department of Transportation Director Michael Lynn said. “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.”

FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said in a press release that the FTA is committed to helping tribal residents with their transportation needs. “We’re proud to support investments in their transit systems, which provide access to essential services.”

In 2018, the CN used a FTA grant worth more than $321,500 to provide six transit vans to the four transit service companies that contract with the tribe.

To learn more about CN transit routes, schedules and fares, visit https://transit.cherokee.org.

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