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U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $10 Million to Improve Transit Options on Tribal Lands

Contact: Valerie Berton

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced the award of approximately $10 million to help American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments initiate, improve and enhance transit service on Tribal Lands.

“Public transportation connects people and communities to jobs, education, and healthcare,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These and other Tribal Transit grants provide funding for buses, vans and transportation planning that helps ensure that everyone can access critical services and economic opportunity.”

The money, which is awarded through FTA’s Tribal Transit Program, will provide grants to 55 tribes for 65 competitively selected transit-related projects in 18 states. The projects will receive awards from a combination of fiscal year 2014 and 2015 annual discretionary funds. Combined with about $25 million a year in formula funds, FTA’s Tribal Transit Program provides a transportation lifeline to rural tribal citizens by connecting them with employment, education, healthcare, and other vital services. Funding for Tribal Transit was increased to $30 million under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on December 4, 2015.

“Residents on tribal lands often face challenges finding reliable transportation to travel to the types of services that improve quality of life,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “By helping supply affordable public transportation to American Indians, Alaskan natives and other rural residents, we create avenues for them to pursue their goals.”

Examples of projects funded by FTA’s FY 2014 and FY 2015 discretionary Tribal awards include:

The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe of Washington will receive $300,000 to initiate transit operations to serve tribal members and residents of surrounding communities in South King County to the city of Auburn, which offers transit connections to Seattle. The new service follows a feasibility study, along with a door-to-door survey in the community, supporting residents’ need for public transportation, particularly to help residents pursue educational opportunities and secure stable jobs.
The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma will receive $92,500 to purchase replacement buses that run on compressed natural gas to continue providing reliable public transportation for residents to travel to jobs and services in the Oklahoma counties of Dair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Ottawa, and Rogers. The service is well used. In 2014, the Cherokee Nation provided 79,776 bus rides, a 114% increase over the previous year’s 37,296 rides.
The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska will receive $300,000 to build a transit facility and purchase vans to enable tribal members to take part in a vocational program and travel to Sioux City, Iowa and South Sioux City, Nebraska for jobs, education, and healthcare. The new transit facility will create a centralized office, provide space for vehicle maintenance, and house a new dispatch system.

The Federal Transit Administration reviewed 79 project applications for the Tribal Transit Program, representing more than $19.5 million in funding requests from tribal transit providers across the country.

Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016
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