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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $15 Million to Improve Transit Options for American Indians, Alaska Natives on Tribal Lands

Investments Improve Access to Jobs, Promote Economic Development

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $15 million to help American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments invest in public transit to help improve access to employment centers and promote economic development on tribal lands.

"With unemployment among American Indians at an unacceptably high rate, reliable public transportation offers a vital link to jobs, training centers and other essential services," Secretary LaHood said. "The Obama Administration is committed to working with leaders in Indian country to improve transportation connections while boosting economic conditions and creating jobs in tribal communities."

The money, which is awarded through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Tribal Transit Program, will provide grants to tribes in 25 states for 67 separate projects. The projects will focus on maintaining existing transit operations during the economic downturn and enhancing services for seniors and people with disabilities. In addition, some grants will be used to plan or launch new bus, van and commuter service in rural communities that have never been served by public transit before.

"For people who live in rural communities and on tribal lands, access to reliable, affordable public transit is a lifeline," said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. "We’re committed to ensuring that every American Indian or Alaskan native who needs a ride to earn a paycheck, attend school, see the doctor, or buy groceries has that opportunity."

Eligible grant recipients under the Tribal Transit Program include federally -recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages, groups, or communities, as identified by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior. Some projects receiving money include the following.

  • The Quechen Indian Tribe along the California-Arizona border will receive $232,000 for new transit service on the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation to improve access to employment, education, health services and recreational opportunities between Fort Yuma and Winterhaven. 
  • The Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Central Oklahoma will receive $450,000 to increase the on-demand transit services it provides to seniors, tribal elders, persons with disabilities and others with little or no transportation options to meet basic needs such as medical appointments, grocery and clothes shopping, jobs and adult continuing education. 
  • The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will receive $140,000 to continue providing night service, consisting of five routes six nights a week, serving the Qualla Boundary portion of the Cherokee Indian Reservation in Western North Carolina. The service provides safe transportation for those who work at night, as well as for evening shopping and activities.

The Federal Transit Administration reviewed 116 project applications for the Tribal Transit Program, representing more than $41.6 million in funding requests from tribal transit providers across the country. A full list of grant awards can be found here.

FTA FY 2011 Tribal Transit Program Discretionary Projects
Recommended for Funding

State Applicant Legal Name Project Description Amount

AK Bristol Bay Native Association
The Bristol Bay Native Association, Inc., a
consortium of 31 tribes in Alaska, will develop a
coordinated transit plan for the native people of
the Bristol Bay region to provide a cohesive and
interconnected transit system that will improve
mobility and access to jobs and services.
$75,000

AK Gulkana Village Council
Funds will enable the Gulkana Village in Alaska to
maintain its Soaring Eagle Transit service in the
rural Glennallen area, including the communities
of Copper Center, Tazlina, Gakona, Gulkana and
Glennallen, as well as limited transit service to
the metropolitan areas of Valdez, Palmer and
Anchorage. Soaring Eagle Transit is the only
service in the area and is used by 65 percent of
the Copper River Basin’s 3,500 residents.
$328,085

AK Knik Tribal Council
The Knik Tribal Council in Alaska will conduct a
survey to determine the need for public transit
access to employment, education, health care
and other basic needs. Data will be collected and
analyzed against current route service to identify
needs that are already met by existing public
transit service versus those that require route
changes and additional resources.
$22,000

AK Native Village of Kobuk
Funding will allow the Native Village of Kobuk to
conduct a tribal transit planning study to
evaluate current transit deficiencies and enhance
current services.
$25,000

AK Native Village of Noatak F
unding will be used to start up the Noatak
Public Transit program, which will improve
mobility for the village by offering a source of
transportation to jobs, healthcare, school,
grocery shopping, the airport and other public
services.
$175,000

AK Noorvik Native Community
Noorvik Native Community of Alaska will conduct
a planning study for a tribally‐operated transit
system serving the tribal community. The
proposed transit planning study will incorporate
an approach that considers current resources,
partnership opportunities, and community goals
when assessing Noorvik's current transit
resources and deficiencies. The study will include
a brief overview of the major steps required to
successfully implement the proposed transit
program.
$25,000

AK Sitka Tribe of Alaska
Funds will allow the Sitka Tribe of Alaska to
continue The RIDE’s (Sitka’s public transit
system) Green Line service. For many tribal
members this service provides the only reliable
answer to the need to get to work, keep a job,
seek education or attend training.
$239,100

AK Tetlin Village Council
Tetlin Village Council will use funds to continue
providing daily fixed‐route and on‐demand
transit to the general public in Tetlin to allow
them to access services, jobs, schools and other
modes of travel in Tok, Alaska. People in Tok who
wish to travel to Tetlin for either business or
personal reasons can also take advantage of the
service.
$230,000

AK Venetie Village Council
Venetie Village Council of Alaska will conduct a
planning study for a tribally‐operated transit
system serving the Venetie community. The
study will incorporate an approach that considers
current resources, partnership opportunities and
community goals when assessing current transit
resources and deficiencies.
$25,000

Alaska Total $1,144,185

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