The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced the award of $5 million in competitive funds to 42 American Indian and Alaska Native tribes in 19 states for projects to improve transit service. The funds complement $25 million allocated by formula to eligible tribal recipients for FY 2014, as announced last week. The combined $30 million investment -- double the amount available in prior years -- supports efforts to enhance public transit service on rural tribal lands and better connect tribal members and other residents with jobs, education, and other ladders of opportunity. A formal notification will be published in the Federal Register this week.
"The Obama Administration is proud to partner with tribal governments throughout the United States to create new ladders of opportunity for hard-working families and seniors hoping to improve their quality of life," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Access to affordable transportation goes hand-in-hand with ensuring that American Indians, Alaskan natives and other rural residents have a chance to succeed and pursue their goals."
"We fully recognize that residents on tribal lands and in surrounding communities often face significant transportation challenges, as many cannot afford to own a vehicle, or fill the tank, and yet must travel long distances to reach basic services," said FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan. "We want to ensure that everyone who needs a ride to earn a paycheck, attend school, see the doctor, or buy groceries has that opportunity."
Through FTA's Tribal Transit Program, the competitively awarded FY 2013 funds will allow tribes to continue or enhance existing transit service, launch new public transportation or plan for future transit needs. Projects awarded competitive funds include the following:
The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada will receive $300,000 for start-up transit operations to connect tribal members and other residents in the rural areas of Sutcliffe, Nixon, Wadsworth, and Fernley to education, job training, health care, and employment opportunities in nearby Sparks and Reno.
The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma will receive $265,498 to purchase tools and equipment needed for a new Flexible Fuel Vehicle Maintenance Facility for the Northeast Oklahoma Tribal Transit and Pelivan Transit fleets. The facility will service gasoline, diesel, CNG vehicles, and three 15-passenger commuter vans. The tools and equipment will provide new jobs and training for area technology schools and the Oklahoma State University.
The Seneca Nation of Indians will receive $145,000 to improve its existing transit service and ensure safe, accessible, and coordinated transportation services for tribal members and other residents in western New York. Improvements include construction of ADA-compliant bus shelters on the tribe's Allegany and Cattaraugus Territories, installation of real-time electronic message boards at the new shelters, and installation of video and audio surveillance equipment on buses.
Under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, FTA's Tribal Transit Program roughly doubled the amount of available funding from amounts awarded in recent years, but changed from an entirely discretionary program to a mostly formula-based one. Formula funds are awarded based on such factors as the miles a transit vehicle travels while in active service and the number of low-income individuals that reside on tribal lands. The FY 2014 formula funds, allocated to 112 tribes in 26 states, will help tribes continue to provide existing transit services that many rural residents depend on every day. The criteria for awarding competitive funds includes, among other things, project readiness; benefits to riders, such as increased reliability; economic benefits to the community; and a tribe's financial commitment to the project and to transit.
Under the prior authorization, SAFETEA-LU, approximately 200 tribal transit programs received a total of approximately $107 million to enhance, launch, or plan for transit service on tribal lands under the FTA Tribal Transit Program.