Cherokee Nation Transit serves commuters in NE Okla.

BY D. SEAN ROWLEY
Senior Reporter
09/19/2019 08:15 AM
Audio Clip
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The Cherokee Nation contracts with Ki Bois Area Transit System for use of seven vehicles, but KATS has more than 200 vans and buses covering routes throughout eastern Oklahoma. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A Ki Bois Area Transit System driver helps a passenger into a KATS bus by holding her bag and the door for her. The Cherokee Nation contracts with KATS, as well as Pelivan Transit, Muskogee County Transit and Cimarron Public Transit to conduct daily operations. ARCHIVE
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Geremy Chuculate, a Cherokee Nation citizen and Pelivan Transit bus driver in Grove, Oklahoma, helps a load a wheel chair-bound man into the Pelivan bus Chuculate drives. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation Transit offers reliable, affordable and safe transport for American Indians to their destinations by contracting with agencies to provide more than 100,000 rides per year. ARCHIVE
TAHLEQUAH – When area residents find themselves without wheels or maybe don’t feel comfortable driving anymore, or just want to reduce gasoline consumption, Cherokee Nation Transit can get people to their respective points A and B.

CN Transit offers reliable, affordable and safe transport for American Indians to their destinations by contracting with agencies to provide more than 100,000 rides per year.

“The program contracts with four area transit agencies to conduct daily operations,” Michael Lynn, CN Department of Transportation director, said. “Those include Ki Bois Area Transit or KATS, Pelivan Transit, Muskogee County Transit and Cimarron Public Transit. The CN collects monthly reports from each agency, which provides the number of rides during a reporting period. In fiscal 2018, the CN provided a total of 107,712 rides, which equates to 8,976 rides per month or 2,071 rides per week.”

CN Transit has identified five primary or priority “destinations of necessity” for its clients: jobs or employment, health care appointments, government services and offices, grocery stores and banks or financial institutions.

“I noticed KATS bringing some folks by the Cherokee County Election Board to vote early in the Tahlequah city elections,” Lynn said. “The elderly and less mobile most definitely use our transit system, but that’s not all. The most recent report tells us that, of our five priority destinations, 31 percent of our riders are accessing employment, followed by grocery shopping at 29 percent. Both health care and government services are tied at 19 percent while the remaining 2 percent of our ridership accesses financial institutions.”

Lynn said when the CN enters into a contract with a transportation service, those agreements include demand responsive, or “curb-to-curb,” amenities, usually within city limits, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The Nation also contracts with three of the four agencies to provide commuter route services – long hauls from town to town – at the times and days specified by schedule,” Lynn said.

The tribe first provided transit service in 2008 through KATS, and offered tribal employees and the public with “park and ride” commuter service between Stilwell and Tahlequah. A contract was inked with Pelivan in 2009 to cover a route between Catoosa and Pryor.

Lynn said the transit services were first considered in 2005 during reauthorization of transportation legislation.

“Tribal transit programs had not been authorized before then, but the tribes were successful in acquiring annual federal funding to address the mobility needs in Indian Country,” he said. “In 2006, the Nation obtained a planning grant to see where transit services were needed the most, and by 2007 had obtained its first bus. Since then, the Nation’s transit program has grown by leaps and bounds, operating with 16 vehicles.”

Transit contracts call for 16 vehicles leased to area transit agencies for use within their respective jurisdictions. Seven are provided through KATS, six through Pelivan, two through Muskogee County and one via Cimarron. The demand response fare is 50 cents one way or $1 round trip. Commuter fares are the same price, except on Fridays when the trips are offered for no charge.

In fiscal year 2017, the CN invested nearly $265,000 in federal Tribal Transportation Program funding to improve several area transit program operations. Each year, the tribe uses a portion of its TTP funds to provide additional transit services for CN citizens and the public.

For information on CN Transit Services or the contracted transit providers, call 1-800-256-0671 or visit http://transit.cherokee.org.
ᏣᎳᎩ

ᏓᎵᏆ - ᎾᎯᏳᏃ ᎡᏍᎦᏂ ᎠᏁᎯ ᏄᏂᎲᎾ ᏱᎩ ᎤᏁᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᏄᎾᏚᎵᏍᎬᎾ ᏃᏊ ᎤᏂᎯᎵᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᏙᏆᎴᎷ, ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᎤᏂᎦᏲᎶᏗᏍᏗᎢ ᎨᏏ ᎠᏅᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏗᎾᏓᏘᏂᏙᎯ ᏱᎦᎧᏂᏓ ᏴᏫ ᎥᎿ ᏩᏂᎦᏛᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎠᏂᏛᎢ.

ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎠᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᏗᎬᎵᏍᎦᏍᏗ, ᎬᏈᏴᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎡᏍᎦ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᎤᎾᏦᏗᎢ ᏅᏁᎯᏯᎢ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ ᎤᎾᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᎥᎿ ᏩᏂᎬᏛᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏧᎾᏓᏁᏤᎸᎢ ᏅᎩ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᎪᏟᏗᎲᎢ 100,000 ᎢᏯᏂᎢ ᎠᏅᏓᏣᏁᎯ ᏂᏓᏕᏘᏱᏒᎢ.

“ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᎰᏢᏒᎢ ᏓᎾᏓᏁᏤᎰᎢ ᏅᎩᎭ ᎡᏍᎦᏂ ᎠᏁᎯ ᏗᏂᎯᎵᏙᎯ ᏗᎬᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᏙᏓᏋᏓ ᏕᏙᎰᎢ,” Michel Lynn, ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎠᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᎠᎦᏘᏱ, ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏓᏠᏯᏍᏓ Ki Bois ᎢᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᎠᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ KATS, Pelivan ᎠᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ, ᎫᏐᎢ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ Cimarron ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏏᏅᏓ ᎢᏳᏓᎵ ᏕᎦᏟᏏᏍᎪᎢ ᎧᏃᎮᏢᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏔᏅᏍᎬᎢ ᎥᎿ ᏚᏙᏢᏩᏗᏒᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩᏍᎩᏂ ᎬᏂᎨᏒᎢ ᏂᎬᏁᎯ ᎢᏯᏂᎢ ᎤᎾᏓᏣᏁᎸᎢ ᎾᎯᏳ ᎠᏟᎠᎵᏒᎢ.

ᎾᎯᏳᏃ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ 2018, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏚᏍᏕᎸᎲᎢ 107,712 ᎢᏯᏂᎢ ᎠᎾᏓᏣᏁᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ 8,976 ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᎭ ᏏᏅᏓ ᎢᏳᏓᎵ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ 2,071 ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᎭ ᏒᎾᏙᏓᏆᏍᏗ ᎢᏳᏓᎵ.”

ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᏓᏂᏃᎮᎭ ᎯᏍᎩ ᏂᏚᎬᏫᏳᏒᎢ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᏄᏂᎬᏫᏳᏒᎢ “ᏩᏂᎬᏛᎢ ᎤᏚᎸᏛᎢ” ᎠᎾᏓᏣᏁᎯ: ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᎦᎾᎦᏘ ᎠᏁᏙᎲᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᎬᎬᎢ ᎨᏥᏍᏕᎸᎯᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏣᏘᎾ ᏚᏙᏢᏩᏗᏒᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏧᏂᏗᎢ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ.

“ ᎠᏆᏕᎶᎰᏌ Ꮎ KATS ᏧᎾᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏴᏫ ᏕᎨᎦᏘᏃᎯᎲᎢ ᎤᏂᏁᎢᏍᏗᎢ ᎥᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏧᎾᏙᎩᏯᏍᏗᎢ ᏗᏂᏅᎢ ᎥᎿ ᏓᎵᏆ ᎦᏚᎲᎢ ᏓᎾᏙᎩᏯᏍᎬᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Lynn. “ᎠᏂᎦᏴᎵᏃ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏂᏲᎤᎵ ᏙᏳᎢ ᎠᏅᏗᏍᎪᎢ ᏕᎨᎦᏘᏂᏙᎰᎢ, ᎥᏝ ᎥᏍᎩᏭ ᏱᎦᎢ ᏱᎩ. ᎾᏞᎬᏭ ᎬᏂᎨᏒᎢ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᎾ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎯᏍᎩ ᏂᏚᎬᏫᏳᏒᎢ ᏂᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ, 31 ᎢᏳᎾᏓᏛᎢ ᎪᎦᏣᏁᎯ ᏗᎨᏥᎾᏢᏗᎢ ᎤᏂᏲᎭ, ᎠᎴ 29 ᎢᏳᎾᏓᏛᎢ ᎠᎾᏓᏅᏁᏍᎩ. ᎢᏧᎳᏃ ᎦᎾᎦᏘ ᎠᏁᏙᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎠᏁᏙᎯ 19 ᎢᏳᎾᏓᏛᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏩᎾᏘᏯᏍᎬᏃ 2 ᎢᏳᎾᏓᏛᎢ ᎠᎾᏓᏣᏁᎯ ᎤᏣᏘᎾ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᏓᏁᏙᎰᎢ.”

Lynn Z ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏓᎾᏓᏁᏤᎲᎢ ᏌᏉ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ ᏕᎨᎦᏘᏂᏙᎲᎢ ᏴᏫ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏧᎾᏓᏁᏤᎸᎢ ᎠᏠᏯᏍᏓ ᎤᎵᏍᏚᎢᏓ, ᎠᎴᏱᎩ “ᎦᏁᏄᏢᎢ,” ᎬᏩᎾᏓᏍᏕᎸᏗᎢ, ᎥᎿ ᏕᎦᏚᎲᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏧᏁᎳ ᏂᏛᏓᎴᏂᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏅᎩ ᏒᎯᏰᏱ ᏱᎪᎯᏓ.

“ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᏧᎾᏓᏁᏤᎸᎢ ᏦᎢ ᏂᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎪᎵᏓᏁᏗ ᎡᏙᎯ ᎤᏦᏗᎢ ᎢᎾ ᏕᎦᏚᎲᎢ - ᏳᏓᎵZ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᎢᏴᎢ ᎢᎪᎯ ᏗᎫᎪᏔᏅᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Lynn.

ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏂᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᎢᎬᏱᏱᎢ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎪᎵᏔᏅᎢ ᎠᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ 2008 ᏥᎨᏒᎢ KATS ᎤᎾᎵᎪᎯ, ᎠᎴ ᏚᎾᎵᏍᎪᏟᏓᏁᎸᎢ ᎠᏂᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏁᏙᎯ “ᎢᎸᏂᏢᎢ ᎤᏂᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎾᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ” ᎤᎾᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎢᏴᎢ ᏝᏬᏚ ᏗᎦᏚᎲᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏓᎵᏆ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏄᏍᏛᎢ Pelivan ᏚᎾᏓᏁᏤᎸᎢ ᎾᎯᏳᎢ 2009 ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᎾᏘᏂᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎧᏚᏒ ᎾᎥᎢ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎧᏩᏲᎢ ᎾᎥᎢ ᎠᏁᎯ.

Lynn Z ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ Ꮎ ᏓᎾᏘᏂᏙᎲᎢ ᏓᏂᏍᏕᎵᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ Ꮓ Ꮎ ᎢᎬᏱᎢ ᎨᎦᏓᏅᏖᏢᎢ ᎾᎯᏳᎢ 2005 ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᎢᏚᎾᎵᏍᎪᎵᏓᏁᎸᎢ ᏧᎾᏘᏂᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎧᏃᏩᏛᏍᏗ ᏂᎤᎵᏍᏔᏅᎢ.

“ ᎠᏂᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᏓᎾᏘᏂᏙᎲᎢ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎥᏝ ᎠᏏ ᎨᎦᎵᏍᎪᎵᏓᏁᎸᎢ ᏱᎨᏎᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᏓᏂᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᏄᏂᏄᎸᏅᎾ ᏚᏂᎩᏒᎢ ᏩᏥᏂ ᎤᎾᏂᏍᎪᎵᏔᏅᎢ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᎦᏛᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏚᎸᏗ ᏄᎾᏛᏅᎢ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎾᏂᏳᎢ 2006 ᏥᎨᏒᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏂᏁᏎᎢ ᏩᏥᏂ ᏂᏓᏳᏓᏉᏅᎢ ᎪᏪᎵ ᏧᏄᎪᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎢᏴᎢ ᎨᏒ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎤᏚᎸᏛᎢ, ᎠᎴ 2007 ᏭᎵᎠᎶᏝ ᎤᎾᏦᏙᏗ ᎢᎬᏱᎢ ᎤᏂᎩᏎᎢ. ᎾᎯᏳᏃ ᏂᏛᏓᎴᏂᏍᎩ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᏧᎾᏘᏂᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎤᏛᏌ ᏓᎳᏚ Ꮓ ᏱᎦᎢ ᏓᏛᏟᏙᎠ ᏧᎾᏦᏙᏗ.”

ᏓᎳᏚᎢ ᏱᎦᎢ ᏙᏆᎴᎷ ᏰᎵᎢ ᎬᏓᏣᏁᏗ ᏚᏙᏢᏩᏗᏒᎢ ᏕᎨᎦᏙᎳᏍᏓ ᎡᏍᎦᏂ ᏗᎬᏙᏗ. ᎦᎵᏉᎩ Ꮓ ᏱᎦᎢ KATS ᏧᎵᏍᎪᎵᏔᏅᎢ, Pelivan Z ᏧᎵᏍᎪᎵᏔᏅᎢ, ᏔᎵᏃ ᎫᏐᎢ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏧᎵᏍᎪᎵᏔᏅᎢ ᎠᎴ Cimarron Z ᏌᏉ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏰᏟ Ꮓ ᎠᏈᏴᏗ ᏌᏩᎬᏘ ᏗᏜ ᎤᏃᏍᏗ ᎢᏧᎳ ᏗᎬᏘ.

ᎠᏓᏣᏁᎯ ᏱᎦᎢ ᎠᏈᏴᏗᎢ ᎤᏠᏱᎭᏭ ᎨᏐᎢ, ᏧᎾᎩᎶᏍᏗᏃ ᎥᏝᏃ ᎠᏈᏴᏗ ᏱᎩ.
ᏑᏕᏘᏴᏓᏃ 2017, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏱᎦᎢ ᎤᏃᏢᏅᎢ $265,000 ᏩᏥᏂ ᎠᏂᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᎤᎾᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᎤᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎠᏓᏁᏝ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏁᏉᎢᏍᏗ ᏗᏐᎢ ᎬᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᏧᎾᏂᎩᏍᏙᏗᎢ. ᏂᏓᏕᏘᏴᎯᏒᎢ, ᎠᏂᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᎦᏲᏝ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎪᎢ Ꮎ TTP ᏧᎬᏩᎶᏗ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎪᎵᏙᏗᎢ ᏰᎵᎢ ᎬᏩᏁᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵᎢ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏁᏙᎯ.

ᎤᎪᏗ ᏲᏚᎵᎭ ᎠᏕᎶᎰᎯᏍᏗᎢ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᏗᏓᏁᏤᏗᎢ ᎬᏓᏣᏁᏗᎢ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᎪᎵᏗᏍᎩ, ᏩᎵᏃᎮᏗᏊ, 1-800-256-0671 ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᏩᎪᎵᏰᏗ http://transit.cherokee.org.

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