The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has awarded $9.9 million in grants to 22 American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native communities to improve their public transit systems. The competitive grants under FTA's Tribal Transit Program allow Tribes to buy transit vehicles, upgrade bus facilities, and expand transit options. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes nearly $46 million in competitive funding over five years for the Tribal Transit Program, an increase of nearly 83 percent.
"Through President Biden's infrastructure package, we are improving transit in Tribal Nations around our country," said U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "These grants will help ensure Tribal residents have more reliable, affordable ways to access jobs, schools and essential resources."
Tribal Transit systems transport Americans more than 13 million vehicle miles each year, providing critical access to communities that often have few other travel options. In FY 2022, FTA awarded funds to 25 American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native communities to help them meet the needs of their citizens, including elders, people with disabilities and youth in Indian Country.
"These funds will directly support 22 Tribal Nations across 12 states creating safe, clean and accessible options for getting residents where they need to go," said USDOT’s Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs Arlando Teller. "FTA's Tribal Transit Program assists communities in addressing their unique transportation issues — taking to heart community involvement to ultimately support sustainable transportation solutions.”
"These project selections will improve public transportation and connections for people in communities that have been historically underserved," said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. "Providing public transportation truly changes lives and launching transit service, replacing buses and vans, and building new transit facilities helps keep people in tribal communities and Alaska Native Villages moving."
Examples of projects selected to receive Fiscal Year 2023 funding include
- The Native Village of Unalakleet in Alaska will receive $1.4 million to buy equipment to maintain transit corridors serving residential areas year-round safely. The village, located on the Norton Sound, 180 miles southeast of Nome, provides on-demand transit to help residents access the health clinic, grocery store, post office, tribal office, airport and other services.
- The Karuk Tribe in California will receive nearly $324,000 to start a new transit service. The project will help guide the establishment and operation of a transit system that serves the needs of seniors and other community members, especially those most vulnerable.
- The Prairie Island Indian Community in Minnesota will receive $1.1 million to build a transportation maintenance facility at Oyate Place. The project will enhance safety, improve winter preparedness and ensure reliable transportation services by providing a dedicated space to store and maintain public transportation vehicles.
- The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin will receive $540,000 to buy six transit vans. The new vehicles will improve service in rural, disadvantaged areas and provide needed transit to health and educational services.
FTA notes it received 41 eligible project proposals requesting nearly $20 million from Tribes and Alaska Native Village applicants.