U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $5 Million in Funding to Improve Transit Options on Tribal Lands
Tribal Transit Program will provide grants to 34 tribes
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced the award of $5 million to help American Indian and Alaska Native tribal citizens initiate, improve, and enhance transit service in Indian Country.
The FTA's Tribal Transit Program, which provides a transportation lifeline to rural tribal citizens by connecting them with employment, education, healthcare, and other vital services, will provide grants to 34 tribes for 35 competitively selected transit-related projects in 12 states.
"Public transportation is a community function that connects individuals to more and better opportunities," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "The Tribal Transit program targets the transportation challenges many Native Americans face on tribal land by providing grants to fund buses, vans and transportation planning."
Combined with $30 million a year in tribal formula funds, funding for Tribal Transit was increased to $35 million annually under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on December 4, 2015.
"The Federal Transit Administration is proud to partner with Indian Country to support projects that will help tribal residents access jobs, education and other important opportunities in their communities," said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. "These grants will provide new and improved transportation services for individuals who need additional options for getting around."
Examples of projects funded by FTA's 2016 competitive Tribal awards include:
- The White Earth Band of Chippewa Minnesota will receive funding for replacement vehicles with bike racks and two propane conversions for existing vehicles that will help sustain the tribe's transit services that help members access jobs, training, healthcare, tribal headquarters, and retail locations.
- The Jicarilla Apache Nation of New Mexico will receive funding for a new bus to provide transit service to tribal residents to Chama and Farmington, NM with an emphasis on access to healthcare, job centers, and fresh food retailers, which are scarce for tribal residents and residents of the Chama Valley. The new route follows input from a transit rider survey that indicated interest in health and fitness services and a senior center.
- The Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma will receive funding for the purchase and installation of 10 solar-lighted bus shelters for its Okmulgee City route, which provides transportation to jobs, medical appointments and recreational activities. The shelters will protect passengers from Oklahoma's hot summers and cold winters and advertise tribal services.
The FTA says that it reviewed 44 project applications for the Tribal Transit Program, representing more than $8.3 million in funding requests from tribal transit providers across the country.