Cherokee Nation receives nearly $300K grant to add five new transit vans

(L to R) Cherokee Nation Infrastructure Data Coordinator Sherry Waters, Community Services Executive Director Michael Lynn, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Director of Transportation Andy Quetone and Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation recently received a nearly $300,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration for five new transit vehicles that will replace older vans and expand services in Tahlequah and Stilwell.

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. The Tribal Transit Program funds help tribes like the Cherokee Nation connect citizens to jobs, health care, school, and other necessary services.

The new transit vans, which were delivered in July, replaced three of the Cherokee Nation’s older transit vans that provide employment-based commuter routes from Sallisaw to Tahlequah, Salina to Catoosa and demand response, known as curb-to-curb service, in Tahlequah. Two of the new vans will expand the tribe’s demand response services in Stilwell as well as additional areas in Tahlequah.

“Whether it’s to get to work, school, medical appointments or other vital services, our citizens need safe, reliable transportation now more than ever,” said Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner. “It’s a blessing to be able to upgrade our transit fleet and provide expanded services in areas where it’s needed most.”

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 reservation in northeastern Oklahoma. Native Americans and tribal employees can access rides on fixed routes and on-demand service transit buses for $1 round trip as well as free transportation on Fridays. In fiscal year 2019, the Cherokee Nation’s transit services provided 115,389 rides, an increase of more than 7,500 rides compared to FY 2018.

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. The demand response service is also based upon availability, and patrons are encouraged to call providers 72 hours in advance. 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 and grants like the Federal Transit Administration grant provides critical funding to purchase reliable transportation to help our citizens and employees get where they need to go safely and efficiently,” said Executive Director of Community Services Michael Lynn. “We appreciate this grant opportunity and look forward to getting our five new transit vans out on the road and serving our communities throughout the Cherokee Nation.”

For more information on Cherokee Nation transit routes, schedules, and fares, visit https://transit.cherokee.org.

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