U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $5 Million to Improve Transit Options on Tribal Lands

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Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the award of approximately $5 million to help American Indian and Alaskan Native tribal governments initiate, continue and improve transit service on tribal lands. The funding is provided through the FTA’s Tribal Transit Program and will go to 36 competitively selected transit projects in 19 states.

“Transportation is a lifeline in tribal communities, many of which are in rural areas of the country,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “The Tribal Transit Program makes a real difference for residents in these communities by helping to fund convenient, efficient and affordable public transportation.”

The Tribal Transit Program makes funds available to federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaskan Native villages, groups or communities to support capital projects, operating costs and planning activities for public transportation services on and around Indian Country.

“The Federal Transit Administration is proud to support the transportation needs of tribal residents throughout the United States,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. “These grants will help fund improved transit options that connect tribal residents to jobs, education, health care and other important services.”

The selected projects will receive fiscal year 2017 program funds. Examples of selected projects include:

The Native Village of Barrow in Alaska will receive funding to increase its transit service, expanding from one bus operating inside the village to additional buses serving rural areas in a 21-mile area north of the Arctic Circle. The new buses will help residents, including many older adults, travel into the village to access services including health care, education, cultural activities, and more.

The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Nevada will receive funding to create the first tribal transit program to serve the reservation, which is in a remote area 100 miles away from the nearest cities of Elko, Nevada, and Mountain Home, Idaho. Plans for the transit system call for routes that connect residents with healthcare, education and services on and off the reservation.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota will receive funding to purchase new buses to replace older buses that have high mileage and are less reliable. The tribe operates Fond du Lac Transit, which provides demand response service to connect residents to jobs, education, healthcare and services on the reservation in northeastern Minnesota and in the cities of Cloquet and Duluth.

The FTA reviewed 73 applications for the Fiscal Year 2017 competitive Tribal Transit Program, representing more than $14.2 million in funding requests from tribal transit providers across the country.

In addition to the $5 million in competitive funding announced today, $30 million in formula funding is provided to tribes each fiscal year. Under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, funding for Tribal Transit was increased to $35 million annually through Fiscal Year 2020.