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162 Introduction The research that led to this guidebook included detailed interviews and site visits with selected tribes to learn more about their transit programs, or in some cases, about their efforts to establish a transit program. Tribes were selected to represent different types of transit programs, new and older programs, and to include some tribes that have not successfully implemented a transit program. Findings from the interviews and case studies were used to develop many of the recommendations in this guidebook. Fifteen tribes participated in site visits, as follows: 1. Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians 2. Coeur dâAlene Tribe 3. Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon 4. Lac du Flambeau Indian Tribe 5. Menominee Indian Tribe 6. Navajo Nation 7. Oglala Sioux Tribe 8. Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes 9. Seneca Nation of Indians 10. Sitka Tribe of Alaska 11. Southern Ute Indian Tribe 12. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe 13. Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians 14. Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians 15. Yakama Indian Nation Information from each tribe is summarized in this chapter. Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) is located in western North Carolina on the eastern boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an area known as the Qualla Boundary (Figure 10.1). They are descendants of the Cherokee Nation that once inhabited much of eight present-day southern states. The Cherokee Nation lived in this area for thousands of years until Europeans arrived and began to settle. After 200 years the Cherokee empire was reduced to a small territory and the Indian Removal Act of 1830, approved by President Andrew Jackson, called for the removal of all Indians to lands west of the Mississippi. The result was the âTrail of Tears,â by which 17,000 Cherokee traveled 1,200 miles west to Oklahoma. Members of EBCI are descended from those Cherokee who hid in the mountains, defied removal to the west, or returned to their original lands. C h a p t e r 1 0 Tribal Transit Program Case Studies Figure 10.1. Entrance to reservation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Image used with permission of the Travel and Tourism Office, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
tribal transit program Case Studies 163 Transit Program Cherokee Transit operates a successful public transportation service throughout the Qualla Boundary, offering in-town services in Cherokee, rural routes into Cherokee from surround- ing communities, and a shuttle route through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Figure 10.2). The system has been in place for more than a decade and was developed by the tribe from a series of tribe-sponsored agency transportation services. Sensing the need to develop a general public transit network, EBCI reached out to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (North Carolina DOT) for planning funds to undertake a transit development program. The state agency had several consulting firms under contract for such projects, and awarded a planning grant. Contractor staff work closely with the Cherokee and help develop a plan for the integration of the various agency transportation networks into a single entity. Later, North Carolina DOT sponsored a second transit plan update providing additional consulting services to the tribe, and the tribe received a technical assistance grant from the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA). The Park Trail Shuttle is promoted on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website and at visitor centers. Cherokee Transit also promotes the shuttle through park associations and information for hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Local service in Cherokee is promoted through visitor centers and hotels. Funding Approach Cherokee Transit relies on funding from a variety of sources. Rural transit funding from North Carolina DOT through FTA Section 5311 is used and matched by funds from the tribe. Cherokee Transit has obtained funding from the FTA Tribal Transit Program, and a new facility is being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Funding for services also is provided for medical trips and senior services. The Park Trail Shuttle has been funded through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program. Some fares are paid by local hotels for guests traveling to and from the casino. Cherokee Transit has approached the casino about receiving funds directly from the casino, but has not received financial support. Challenges Cherokee Transit indicated that communication and working with North Carolina DOT and the FTA regional office are challenges. Cherokee Transit is concerned with the level of under- standing of tribal issues of staff members, particularly at agencies with no staff experienced in tribal transit. Some of these challenges have been overcome by contacting tribal liaisons in FTA regions or staff at FTA headquarters. To respond to review comments from North Carolina DOT, for example, Cherokee Transit sought technical assistance from CTAA. The tribe feels that there is a need for funding agencies to better understand tribal sovereignty and tribal hiring preferences. For example, requirements for a disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) program appear to conflict with Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO) provisions, and the tribe has found it challenging to communicate with funding agencies about TERO. Hiring sufficient staff has been a challenge. Transit is not allowed to request additional posi- tions. To get around this limitation, funding for positions is requested through grant applica- tions: When the grant is received, the positions are funded and approved through the grant program separately from the tribal budget. Figure 10.2. Park trail shuttle operated by EBCI. Image courtesy of LSC.
164 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook Innovative Approaches As important as it was to have the initial planning grant from the state and the services of an experienced consulting team, it was much more important that EBCI have the community leadership in place, not only to push for the plan, but also to take leadership in implementing the 5-year program. Without the leadership of the transit manager, backed strongly by the direction of the Tribal Council, the system likely would have foundered. The original manager continues to run the system and has been instrumental in creating the systems that are in place for opera- tions and management of the program. During the implementation of the transit program, the transit manager refused to let barriers prevent success. For example, to gain support from the Tribal Council, the manager compiled a list of individuals riding the system and gave the list to the council members so they could see who actually depended on the system. The following combination of factors also has contributed to the ongoing strength of the program: â¢ A very competent and experienced staff with well-defined roles and responsibilities â¢ Solid training programs â¢ Funding resources from the Tribal Council, agencies, operating grant programs provided by North Carolina DOT, and monies brought into the Boundary by the expansion of its casino The casino expansion greatly increased both the need for the system and the revenues used to finance operations. Thus, Cherokee Transit has been able to maintain service with fewer disruptions than other systems experience related to fluctuations in the funding base on which the system draws. EBCI points to three significant reasons for its transportation growth and stability: (1) a solid initial plan on which to build, (2) consistent and strong leadership from the inception of the system until today, and (3) a fairly predictable and stable funding base on which to plan. Coeur dâAlene Tribe The Coeur dâAlene Tribe is located in the northern panhandle of Idaho, near the city of Coeur dâAlene and east of Spokane, Washington. Unlike many tribes, the Coeur dâAlene are located on a portion of their traditional lands. Coeur dâAlene Indian villages were established along the Coeur dâAlene, St. Joe, Clark Fork, and Spokane rivers. The first white people to discover the Coeur dâAlene Tribe were French trappers and traders who gave them the name that remains today. Transit Program Citylink is a deviated fixed-route public transportation (bus) service operating within Koote- nai and Benewah counties in the northern panhandle section of the state of Idaho. The purpose of the service is to meet the access and mobility needs of workers, students, elderly individuals, persons with disabilities, and the general public. Citylink is operated by the Coeur dâAlene Tribe and is administered through the tribeâs casino and resort-hotel enterprise (Figure 10.3). Its service area includes the Coeur dâAlene tribal reser- vation, where one rural bus route links the rural and urban communities in the service area with the three urban bus routes in the cities of Coeur dâAlene, Post Falls, and Hayden. The service is free to all riders. Figure 10.3. A Citylink bus. Image courtesy of Citylink.
tribal transit program Case Studies 165 Bus service was needed on the reservation. The communities are separated and spread across a large area along U.S. Highway 95. A system was envisioned that connected the communities with Plummer as the focal point. The Coeur dâAlene Casino-Hotel operated a customer-based bus service for their clientele, but not for the general public. A proposal was written for $241,000 and submitted to the Idaho Transportation Department (ID). ID offered the tribe $141,000. After considering options for covering the shortfall, including cutting back the original service concept, the planners approached the Tribal Housing Office to see if they would operate the pub- lic bus service. The tribal housing director was familiar with bus operations and shared the vision for connecting the communities. He found the match to the state Section 5311 rural grant offer. Because of a delay in the response, ID reduced the grant offer to $82,332, which the tribe matched with $32,767. The system started in the last quarter of 2005 with a driver and a Ford Goshen pas- senger bus traveling up and down Highway 95 serving the reservation and tribal communities. Shortly after Citylinkâs inception, Kootenai County was awarded an FTA Section 5307 urban grant to provide transportation in and around the city of Coeur dâAlene, Idaho. The tribe agreed to be a third-party provider and subgrantee to Kootenai County. With this partnership, service expanded to include a link and three urban routes. Funding Approach Funding for the Citylink system is provided through a partnership with FTA, the Coeur dâ Alene Tribe, Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization (KMPO), the State of Idaho Transportation Department, and Kootenai County. It is the only known public transportation system in the United States where tribal, local, and state governments have collaborated to create a free public bus service. Citylink is funded with FTA Section 5307, 5309, 5310, and 5311 funds. All local match is from the Coeur dâAlene Tribe. Currently, Kootenai County transfers $96,699 annually from its FTA Section 5307 urban grant to the Tribe to support operation of Citylinkâs rural route. The Tribe is a subgrantee of Kootenai County, a grantee with ID, and provides regional deviated fixed-route public bus service. Challenges An initial challenge in starting the service was the reduction in the size of the grant from the ID. Although the original request was for $241,000, the final amount of the actual grant was $82,332. Key people who were working to start the transit program worked with others within the tribal government to find a way to start the service. Once the service was started, the tribe was able to enhance and expand the service. Accomplishing the initial step of starting a small service was important in the success of the system which operates today. With multiple funding partners, there are challenges in reporting and program monitoring. Each program has requirements for reporting. The tribe is audited annually to ensure that it remains in compliance with all requirements. Vehicle maintenance is performed at a facility 20 miles away from the transit offices. This requires the expense and time of taking vehicles to the maintenance facility. Citylink has plans to develop a maintenance facility. Innovative Approaches The Citylink partnership with the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization and Koote- nai County is unusual. The tribe is the operator of the local urban transit system serving anyone within the local service area.
166 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook Citylink operates a fare-free system, meaning that passengers pay no fares. Although the sys- tem does not have fare revenue, the benefits to users are increased mobility without the out-of- pocket costs of paying fares. Local funding is provided by the tribe to maintain the free service for users. Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon (CTGR) are settled in western Oregon, which their ancestors inhabited for centuries. The federally proclaimed tribal status of Grand Ronde was terminated in 1954, but the tribe fought for restoration of their status as a tribe, which they received in 1983. In 1988, nearly 10,000 acres of reservation land was offi- cially returned to the tribe. The tribe attracts visitors through the Spirit Mountain Casino, which dedicates 6 percent of its profits to organizations in western Oregon. The tribe actively seeks to share its culture and pass it on to the next generation of tribal members. Transit Program CTGR primarily provides transportation by contracting on a government-to-government basis with the Salem Area Mass Transit District (SAMTD) and Yamhill County Transit Area (YCTA). The SAMTD route has served the City of Salem and Grand Ronde since 2009. Ridership is lower than had been expected, particularly among casino employees. Low employee ridership may be due to the fact that the casino has a large number of shift changes and the SAMTD route cannot accommodate those times conveniently for the majority of casino employees. This route currently runs nine daily trips on weekdays between Salem and the casino (a 35-mile distance) with an average of 1,500 one-way riders a month. The YCTA route began in December 2007 and is an 8-mile extension of an existing route (see Figure 10.4). It has an average of 600 one-way riders per month. CTGR decided to contract with existing service providers rather than start a new service through the tribe because they did not want to duplicate any existing services and it made more sense to expand the existing services in the area. Another concern was ongoing funding of tribal transit services. The tribe was concerned that they would start a service and be unable to sustain it financially. CTGR does offer transit through Head Start, the Elder program, and the community health representative (CHR) program. Head Start has four vehiclesâone 62-passenger bus, one 52-passenger bus, one 19-passenger accessible bus, and one 22-passenger accessible bus. Trans- portation is provided to Head Start participants, who are selected based on income level. Head Start has not collaborated with the other transit services because it serves a very specific popula- tion. The Elder program has one 14-passenger van for meal delivery and one 30-passenger bus for day trips. The CHR program has three General Services Administration (GSA)-leased pas- senger sedans. There is almost no coordination among these programs and the contracted transit services provided by SAMTD and YCTA. Some older children do ride these buses. The tribe recently received tribal transit funding to initiate a local collector bus service which would use the casino as a hub to serve surrounding areas. The tribe anticipates contracting with SAMTD and its Chemeketa Area Regional Transportation System (CARTS) program to run the new service. Funding Approach Revenue has been obtained primarily through the federal Tribal Transit grant program. Fund- ing from FTA section 5311 (c) was awarded to the tribe in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010. Figure 10.4. A YCTA bus. Image courtesy of VJS.
tribal transit program Case Studies 167 CTGR has also received state funding for transit service. Oregonâs state transit program works with the tribe to ensure that it receives a share of the stateâs transit grants and is willing to make allowances for specific needs of the tribe. CTGR has chosen not to become a direct recipient of FTA funds administered by the state because it is concerned that administration would be more complicated, requiring extra staffing. Challenges Currently, CTGRâs main challenge regarding transit is uncertainty of funding. Without funds to pay for contracted transit services, the tribe will no longer be able to maintain the service. The tribe is exploring new ways of meeting transit needs for tribal residents. It hopes that add- ing the local collector bus will connect the tribal government campus, tribal community, and casino and further increase ridership. Because CTGR has elected to contract with existing services on a government-to-government basis rather than provide its own transportation, tribal sovereignty has not been considered an issue. Innovative Approaches Contracting with local public transit service is an innovative approach among tribal transit programs. Rather than starting a service operated by the tribe, the decision was made to contract with the existing public transit systems. Although seeking bids for service is normally required, intergovernmental agreements between the tribe and the local government provide an accept- able alternative. The arrangement allows CTGR to seek funding through the Tribal Transit Pro- gram which is unavailable to the local public transit service. The tribe also has obtained funding through FTAâs Section 5311 Rural Public Transportation Program and uses this funding to support the contracted service. The tribe has been able to access Oregon Department of Energy Business Energy Tax Credits through partnering with Oregon businesses. On February 2, 2011, CTGR and SAMTD received the Regional Cooperative Project Award from the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments for their Grand Ronde Express 2X route. Funding also has been obtained by SAMTD working with Polk County to build a park- and-ride at the county fairgrounds in the community of Rickreall, which is the only stop between Salem and the casino. Construction on the park-and-ride was completed in 2011. Lac du Flambeau Indian Tribe The Lac du Flambeau Indian Tribe has inhabited the Lac du Flambeau area of northern Wis- consin since 1745. The Lac du Flambeau Tribe is a band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. Treaties signed in 1837 and 1842 officially established the area as the Lac du Flambeau Reserva- tion. Near the turn of the twentieth century, the area became a tourist attraction and is still the location of many resorts. To foster economic sustainability, the tribe opened bingo and casino operations and uses the revenues to benefit economic and social development in the community (Figure 10.5). Public Transit Availability Although the planning department has looked into providing public transit, the Lac du Flam- beau Tribe does not currently provide transportation for the community. Plans have been casu- ally explored, but the issue has not been made a top priority. Some programs provide transit for Figure 10.5. Lake of the Torches resort and casino, Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin. Image courtesy of AECOM.
168 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook target audiences. These programs include Head Start for school-age children, a youth center, local colleges, and Elder services (Figure 10.6). The casino, campground, and health clinic also provide transportation for people using their services. Challenges The tribe received a $25,000 grant from FTA under Section 5311, but did not use the fund- ing because of difficulty navigating the Internet processing system. In 2009, the tribe was also awarded a $100,000 transit planning contract from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). This grant money is eligible to be used for hiring a person to conduct a transit study or other start-up costs involved in implementing a transit program. For example, the money may be used to buy a van but not to hire a driver, which would be an ongoing expense. This contract money has not been used yet, and the personnel responsible for using it have not had time to begin the process. The tribe planning department office is in the process of putting together the 2011 Transporta- tion Improvement Program (TIP) with a 4-year projection including a phased approach. It has been difficult for the tribe to establish a transit program, primarily due to the planning department not having enough time to prioritize a transit system. This difficulty is perpetuated by a high political turnover, particularly the tribal president. Each president changes job descrip- tions and brings in new personnel. A lack of expertise in navigating Internet funding require- ments has also been a problem for the planning department in using funds. Other challenges to the transit program include a general concern about how to make a transit service sustainable. The tribe is unsure as to what, if any, state funds are available to them for an established transit service. The planning committee is also concerned about how the organiza- tions currently providing transportation might react to the tribe providing it. Those organiza- tions may resent the competition or fight to keep transportation as a line-item in their budget. Menominee Indian Tribe The Menominee Indian Tribe is located approximately 45 miles northwest of Green Bay, Wis- consin, on about 358 square miles of reservation land. It is headquartered in the village of Kesh- ena, but also consists of four other main communitiesâNeopit, Middle Village, Zoar, and South Branch. During the 1950s, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that terminated the Menomineeâs tribal status, but it was restored in 1973 by the work of a grassroots movement. The tribe is cur- rently depending on federal funding to address social challenges in the community. Transit Program The Menominee Tribe established its transit program in 1982 with three routes which grew to eight routes by 1999. In 2000, Menominee Tribal Transit changed its name to Menominee Public Transit and added a route to Shawano, a city in the neighboring county which houses the closest grocery and department stores. As a result of a 5-year transportation development plan, Menominee Public Transit developed and implemented a partnership agreement with Menomi- nee Tribal Clinic that created routes throughout the state of Wisconsin in 2007. Menominee Public Transit then changed its name to Menominee Regional Public Transit (MRPT) and increased its fleet from 12 vehicles to 20 vehicles ranging from five-passenger minivans to a 28-passenger bus (Figure 10.7). Ridership has increased every year. MRPT has coordination agreements with the Title VI Elder Program, the Menominee Health Clinic, Menominee County Human Services, and the College of the Menominee Nation. They also provide school children transportation under contract with the Menominee School, and Figure 10.6. Van designated for use by elder members of the Lac du Flambeau Tribe. Image courtesy of AECOM. Figure 10.7. A Menominee Regional Public Transit bus. Image courtesy of PSA.
tribal transit program Case Studies 169 maintenance services for other tribal department vehicles. In coordinating with the Menominee Health Clinic, MRPT provides all non-emergency transportation that the clinic once provided itself using CHR and GSA vehicles, and has been able to increase the number of rides to the hospital while also cutting down the cost of the service. MRPT is trying to coordinate services with the surrounding counties of Langdale and Sha- wano as well as with the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Band of Mohican Indians. Funding Approach Funding is obtained through a number of sources. MRPT has received FTA Section 5311(c) funding in the past, although in 2007 and 2008 the grant was less than requested and no fund- ing was granted in 2009. The transit service had to be adjusted to accommodate for this lack of funding. Because it is receiving funding through the state for FTA Section 5311, the tribe did not apply for FTA Section 5310 funding through the state. They did receive funding through New Freedom FTA Section 5317. MRPT has elected not to become a direct recipient of FTA funds because they have a strong relationship with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (Wisconsin DOT) and desire to continue collaborating with the state. They have been helped by contacts at the state in obtain- ing funding as well and do not think that becoming a direct recipient of FTA funds would help their position. The Menominee Indian Tribe is working to establish a transit commission to receive state transit funding. Currently, the tribe does have a good relationship with the Wisconsin Depart- ment of Transportation and receives funding from multiple grants through Wisconsin DOT. Many grants require local match funds which the tribe has obtained in a number of ways. During the most recent budget year (2009), these funds came from the following sources: â¢ the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin: $407,072 â¢ the Menominee Clinic: $138,996 â¢ Menominee County 85.21 funds: $79,176 â¢ Wisconsin 85.215: $22,500 â¢ Bureau of Indian Affairs: $150,000 Challenges MRPTâs biggest challenge in providing transit service is funding. Many funding services require a local match of funds which the service has been unable to obtain. Particularly chal- lenging was the drop in FTA funding without an explanation. The tribe is not sure what they need to change in order to obtain those funds again. Tribal sovereignty has not been a challenge for MRPT, although it is always a consideration. Tribal leadership recognizes the benefit that MRPT gives to the tribe and has been willing to negotiate with the state to keep the service running. The tribe has a good working relationship with the state. When there was concern about a grant requirement that Wisconsin law would apply, the tribe and state were able to negotiate and delete that requirement. Beginning around 2000, MRPT recognized that people were not riding the buses because they thought the service was only for elders. To combat this perception, MRPT improved maintenance of the vehicles and carried out an advertising campaign. This approach helped the service increase ridership. When the one grocery store within the county closed, MRPT increased service into Sha- wano County. This increase in routes had the unintended effect of changing the public perception of the service from transportation primarily for elderly persons to a true public transit service.
170 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook The tribe and MRPT have also had to face attitudes from the community which are character- istic of areas suffering from endemic poverty. Some community members are concerned when they see the bus system expanding or improving its image because they are afraid it is taking money from the betterment of the tribe. The tribe has to work to educate tribal members that when a tribal program grows, the tribe as a whole benefits. Training drivers also has been a challenge for MRPT. Initially when drivers were to be trained, trainers were only available on weekdays and there was trouble coordinating schedules. Now MRPT is able to provide its own training to drivers at more flexible times, including evenings and weekends. Innovative Approaches MRPT has found partnering with other transit services very helpful. By having close partner- ships, the service can avoid duplicating trips and has thus been able to save money which is then used to expand the service. The systemâs coordination agreements with other tribal programs are more than are typically found and the coordination efforts with other local governments are unusual. The tribe created a transportation advisory committee that includes partners and all stake- holders for discussing transportation issues. They have found this committee to be helpful. The management and staff of MRPT have made significant efforts to implement the latest tech- nology. The service operates a paperless office and has two computer programmers on staff. But the dedication to the best use of technology does not end with the paperless office; the management of MRPT is dedicated to sharing data. Their goal is to have all persons with whom they coordinate have access to their data so they can see how many trips are being provided under their agreement at any moment. This openness and sharing of data has created an environment of trust, with the result that the service has attracted interest from more departments and counties wanting MRPT to provide services. The use of technology applies to the drivers, too. The drivers log their time on a computer touchscreen, which allows accurate tracking of driver hours by contract. Navajo Nation The Navajo Nation covers more than 27,000 square miles spread over Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico known as Navajoland. The population is over 250,000 people and includes 110 Navajo Nation communities. In the early 1920s, oil was discovered in Navajoland and a tribal govern- ment was established to negotiate with American oil companies leasing land. Transit Program Navajo Transit began in 1980 with seven routes running Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. In 2007, the service expanded to 14 routes. Plans exist to expand service into Utah with money from a grant received in 2009. Navajo Transit serves 41 of the 110 Navajo Chapter communities with fixed routes operating along the state highway. The program is operated by the tribal governmentâs Department of Transit, a department of the Executive Branch. The Navajo Nation Council General Services Committee oversees the department. The highest ridership is on the route running between Gallup, New Mexico, and Defiance, Arizona. This route is probably popular because of medical and shopping facilities in Gallup and the University of New Mexico Campus in Gallup. One-quarter of Navajo Transit riders are students. All the routes have high ridership. Image courtesy of Navajo Transit.
tribal transit program Case Studies 171 At the time of the survey (2009), Navajo Transit employed one transit manager with five administrative support personnel and one scheduler/dispatcher. The system had five mechanics and 17 drivers, with plans to hire more in 2010. There is no sharing of vehicles between Navajo Transit and other area transit services, although Navajo Transit has tried to connect with the Navajo Aging Program and Americans with Dis- abilities Act paratransit service buses with no response. If the Navajo Aging Program does agree to collaborate, Navajo Transit hopes to partner with them to develop grant applications and a joint program for maintenance. The Navajo Nation does not provide any transit services other than Navajo Transit. The service does coordinate schedules with other non-tribal transit ser- vices in the area, including Mountain Line in Flagstaff, Arizona; Red Apple in Farmington, New Mexico; Gallup Express in Gallup, New Mexico; and the Page Senior Transportation Program in Page, Arizona. Gallup is a low-budget operation, so Navajo Transit partners with them by paying for four bus shelters used by both Navajo Transit and Gallupâs city line. The Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) is used by Navajo Transit for training, notifica- tions, employment, and managing the office. The administrative assistant stays in contact with RTAP to stay current with drug and alcohol policies. Funding Approach Funding for Navajo Transit is received from the states of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, as well as FTA and the Navajo Nation. The tribe received $500,000 through FTA Section 5311(c) in 2006, which lasted through December 2009. The tribe did not apply for funding in 2007, but did apply and was turned down in 2008 and 2009. The tribe is hoping that the recent switch from being served by FTA Region 6 to being served by FTA Region 9 will improve communication between the tribe and FTA. The money received from FTA in 2006 supported three bus routes. To continue this service, Navajo Transit needs to go to the Navajo Nationâs Council to seek supplemental funds. Cur- rently a $50,000 grant from Raytheon supports a route between Shiprock and Raytheon. The tribe receives FTA Section 5311 funding through Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. A healthy, established working relationship exists with the states of Arizona and New Mexico. The relationship with Utah has just recently been established. Navajo Transit has not applied for FTA Section 5310 funding because the Navajo Aging program applies for Section 5310 funding and the tribe does not want overlap in funding requests. The tribe has not applied for Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) funding because of limited employee time. They have elected not to be a direct recipient of FTA funds because of the difficulty they have had in communicating with FTA. With the switch to Region 9, the tribe may reconsider this decision. Within the last 3 years, Navajo Transit has received funding from ARRA, FTA, the Arizona Department of Transportation (Arizona DOT), the New Mexico Department of Transportation (New Mexico DOT), and the Utah Department of Transportation (Utah DOT). The programâs main funding source is Arizona DOT. The service also receives some money from individual counties and the Navajo Match fund. At the time of the survey, Navajo Transit charged a $1.00 fare for all-day ridership, which has increased the number of riders. This fare went up in November 2010 to $1.00 for one direction. Challenges Operationally, it has been difficult for Navajo Transit to conduct long-distance drives. The service area is so large that one trip may be a 4-hour drive. Winter weather has also been a big
172 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook challenge because of safety concerns on some BIA roads, which are not maintained as well as the state roads. Because there are many people in the Navajo Nation occupying a very large area of land, Navajo Transit has been unable to provide service for all of the transit demand in the area. They have limited bus service to major highways, and many people who want services are not able to reach locations currently serviced by buses. Administratively, it has been a challenge to receive needed funds from the tribal budget and to maintain a positive working relationship with each state. The Navajo Transit office struggles with grant applications and reporting because the employees do not have enough time to com- plete some tasks, especially because there are multiple funding sources. It has been a challenge for Navajo Transit to work with three different states. Each stateâs required reporting system is different from the othersâ. Navajo Transit has suggested a uniform reporting system to reduce time spent on reports. They would like to see a national tribal transit association that could unify information gathering regarding transportation. Many people in the Navajo Nation used to hitchhike along the highway for a ride to Gal- lup, and Navajo Transit wanted to provide transit to make trips safer for these individuals. To increase ridership, Navajo Transit decided to charge a $1.00 fare for unlimited rides during a day. They have marketed the program via radio, billboards, fairs, and other local events. It has been a challenge to keep buses in good shape because many roads in the area are not maintained well. This leads to tires being damaged and windshields popping out. Because many vehicles were breaking down or needing maintenance, Navajo Transit purchased a new fleet, which has cut down on maintenance costs. The service has increased the number of buses per route and improved the bus schedule as well. Innovative Approaches Navajo Transit has partnered with Ford in Detroit to build the first fully electric mass transit bus. Ford is giving $1.6 million to the project, and Navajo Transit received a 2-year grant for test operations. This project is a result of a green technology proposal submitted in June 2010. Navajo Transit was chosen to test the buses. The Navajo Transit manager has been working with other tribal transit programs to create a national tribal transit association. This organization has been formed and has held national meetings. The association may become a forum for peer-to-peer exchange of information among tribal transit programs. Oglala Sioux Tribe The Oglala Sioux are located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwest South Dakota. The Oglala Sioux are part of the Great Sioux Nation, called by themselves the Lakota. The Pine Ridge Reservation was once part of the Great Sioux Reservation spanning across what is now South Dakota. In the Great Sioux Settlement of 1889, the Great Sioux Reservation was reduced to five separate reservations including Pine Ridge. The Pine Ridge Reservation today is larger than the state of Connecticut. The Pine Ridge Reservation has a Native American population of approximately 29,000. About 45,000 Native Americans live on or near the reservation, and about 12,000 Oglala tribal members live in Rapid City, South Dakota. Shannon County makes up the majority of the reservation and has one of the highest poverty rates and unemployment rates in the country. In 2008, 46 percent of the population was living
tribal transit program Case Studies 173 below the poverty level. The unemployment rate as a percentage of the total labor force has been reported at 89 percent. Very few opportunities for employment exist in Shannon County or on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Most of the population lives in 11 major communities which are geographically isolated across the reservation. Pine Ridge Village is the largest community and is the administrative center of the tribe, with tribal government offices and offices for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Services, and South Dakota state agencies. Transit Program Oglala Sioux Transit is a tribal program, operated under the tribeâs Department of Transpor- tation (DOT). The transit service began in February 2009 (see Figure 10.8). Initial efforts to start the transit program began in May 2004 after the tribe had received a grant from FTA to build a facility and begin a transit system. Initially the funds were sent to another program within the tribe, but no action was taken. The grant was then assigned to the DOT, and a transit coordina- tor was hired in 2004. The certifications and assurances required by FTA for the grant brought the process to a halt. The tribe was concerned that the certifications and assurances gave away tribal sovereignty and that many did not fit the tribe. A particular issue for the tribe was completion of a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) plan. The tribe had tribal preference in hiring and saw the TERO program as an answer to the requirement for the DBE plan. After a delay of 4 years, the tribe finally signed the certifications and assurances as required by FTA for acceptance of the grant. Although the Oglala Sioux signed the agreement, the tribe has seen changes at FTA in how they now deal with other tribes. Since then, the tribe reports that they have been able to successfully negotiate provisions within FTA agreements. The facility was built, vehicles were purchased, and service began in February 2009. Oglala Sioux Transit provides service to communities throughout the reservation and primarily oper- ates as a fixed-route system. There is a local route in Pine Ridge and longer routes that connect the communities. A route also connects to the Prairie Wind Casino at the western edge of the reservation, although the casino operates its own employee shuttle. The transit system coordi- nates with Indian Health Services, the tribal colleges, the womenâs shelter, and Social Services to provide transportation. Service for veterans is not provided as the veterans facilities are located off the reservation. The tribe has not had a good relationship with the State of South Dakota, although Oglala Sioux Transit has had good experiences working with staff at the South Dakota Department of Transportation (South Dakota DOT). Because of the poor relationship between the two govern- ments, the tribe does not encourage departments to pursue funding through the state. So far, the only funding Oglala Sioux Transit has received through the state is for the JARC program. They have been looking at the New Freedom program, but have not sought any funding yet. Oglala Sioux Transit reported that they have good relationships with other transit programs in the state and share information and peer-to-peer technical assistance. The transit coordinator has helped other transit programs with FTA reporting requirements and grant proposals. Funding Approach Oglala Sioux Transit receives funding through the tribal government, the JARC program through the state, the FTA Tribal Transit Program, and payment for service through other tribal agencies. The funding has remained stable, although the FTA Tribal Transit Program grant was less than requested. The program budget was reduced to reflect the lower funding level. Figure 10.8. Oglala Sioux Transit bus. Image courtesy of LSC.
174 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook Oglala Sioux Transit has approached the casino about providing service to replace the employee shuttle, with the casino paying for a portion of the cost. At the time of the survey, the casino had not provided a response indicating their willingness to pursue this approach. Challenges Tribal sovereignty was a key issue for the Oglala Sioux in starting their program and completing the grant agreements. Resolving differences with FTA delayed the process for about 4 years and, in the end, the tribe signed the agreement without changes. Since then there have been some improve- ments with FTA recognizing tribal sovereignty and reaching out to tribes to work with them. Recruiting and hiring has been a challenge. Retaining good employees has not been an issue. The transit system has lacked sufficient applicants when hiring drivers. In their first hiring effort, there were six positions and only three applicants. Transportation Department staff see the drug and alcohol policy and testing as an impediment to hiring. Oglala Sioux Transit has had to dis- miss employees for alcohol consumption prior to reporting for work. The hardest position to fill was the mechanic, as the position required diesel engine certification. The position was filled, and the mechanic provides training for others seeking certification as mechanics. Innovative Approaches Several keys to success were identified for Oglala Sioux Transit. An important factor was hav- ing one person who was dedicated to the transit program and responsible for implementation. The program did not make any progress until the transit coordinator was hired. Networking with other people in the transit industry has been valuable. Although contacts with other tribal transit systems are important, interaction with non-tribal transit systems in the region has been very helpful. The facility is modeled after the transit facility in Fort Collins, which staff from the Oglala Sioux Tribe visited when they were planning for the new facility. Assistance in preparing specifications was obtained from the transit manager in Rapid City. Oglala Sioux Transit has been active in the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and has found that attendance at a single conference is an opportunity to meet many needs, such as training, technology updates, and contact with vendors. The Oglala Sioux Tribe was the recipient of a CTAA Technical Assistance Project grant, which helped them develop their plan for implementation of the service. The assistance provided by a consultant experienced in transit planning was a great help. The staff found that avoiding direct involvement by Tribal Council members helped the pro- cess. Council member turnover is so frequent that council members do not have time to under- stand the operation of a transit system and often will hinder more than help. By keeping council members out of the process as much as possible, transit staff were able to accomplish the steps necessary for implementation and are able to manage daily operations. The transit facility was built with 33 wells to incorporate geothermal heating, reducing the need for energy to heat the building. Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) comprise the Bitterroot Salish, the Pend dâOreille, and the Kootenai tribes. The tribes live on the Flathead Reservation of 1.3 million acres in northwest Montana. The tribes once inhabited territory in western Montana, parts of Idaho, British Columbia, and Wyoming. CSKT is headquartered in Pablo, Montana.
tribal transit program Case Studies 175 Transit Program The CSKT Department of Human Resource Development (DHRD), which is under the Tribal Council, began the transportation program in 1999 by accessing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to purchase two vans. Once DHRD began offering transporta- tion, it became evident that the area was in need of a larger transportation service. The service expanded to offer approximately 14,000 passenger-trips during 2006 and continued to expand to offer about 30,000 passenger-trips in 2009. The system did not become a public transit service until 2007. Previously, it served only DHRD clients. In 2010, CSKT was named the Montana Transit Association (MTA) Transit System of the Year. Funds from FTA will be used to build a bus barn. State funds will be used to build ten additional bus stops. CSKT public transit currently has four routes. The first route serves Dixon, Charlo, and Ronan. The second route serves Arlee and Polson. The third route serves Elmo and Ronan. The fourth route, which has the highest ridership, serves Polson and St. Ignatius. These routes pro- vide service in the morning (6:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.) and in the evening (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.). Between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., transportation is provided curb-to-curb by demand-response. The service fleet includes four buses, eight minivans, and six cars (Figure 10.9). The service employs 15 drivers. Ridership has increased every year, and the Tribe just bought five additional vehicles to meet the demand for service. The service also takes people to the Gray Wolf Peak Casino in Arlee and Evaro. Tribal members often must travel a long way to access services, so CSKT provides some longer-distance trips. For example, CSKT will take passengers to Great Falls if necessary, which is approximately 3Â½ hours from the reservation. The tribe does offer other passenger transportation services through Head Start and through a vanpool operated by the Missoula Ravalli Transportation Management Association (MRTMA), which goes from Polson to Missoula. Salish and Kootenai Colleges provide some of their own transportation, although by agreement CSKT provides most of their transportation. The colleges reimburse CSKT for trips provided. The Tribal Health Clinic also reimburses CSKT for trips. The CSKT transit service informally connects with the Mountain Line by taking riders to Mis- soula. They also have an informal agreement with the Lake County Council on Aging to refer and help with rides. Funding Approach The tribe began receiving Montana Department of Transportation (Montana DOT) funds. Because these funds came through a federal source, they began offering service to non-tribal members in addition to tribal members. Any rider who is part of TANF, Workforce Investment Act (WIA), or vocational rehabilitation rides for free because those programs provide matching funds for transportation. Elders (age 60 and over) ride for free. Other passengers pay $1.00 per ride. The tribe also receives state Department of Health and Human Services funds as well as Medicaid/Medicare funds for transportation. To obtain matching local funds for grants, the tribe started Quick Silver in 2007. Quick Silver is a full-service gas station with a small eating area and laundry facilities. The tribe also has received FTA Tribal Transit funding. The tribe has received FTA Sec- tion 5311(c) funds every year since 2006. CSKT asked for $500,000 in 2006, but was awarded only about half that amount. The award amount has consistently been lower than the amount requested, precluding the hoped-for possibility of expanding the service. The tribe used FTA Section 5310 funds in 2005 to buy two new buses and again in 2007 to buy two new vans. The Figure 10.9. CSKTâs public transit service fleet includes four buses, eight minivans, and six cars. Image courtesy of LSC.
176 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook tribe also received JARC (FTA Section 5316) funds. The tribe was unaware of the option to be a direct recipient of FTA funding for programs administered by the state. Challenges Stable funding has been the primary challenge for the CSKT. The level of funding the tribe received through the state has varied from year to year. It was expected to increase to the original amount and to remain stable. FTA Tribal Transit funding received has regularly been below what the tribe has requested. CSKT has found that diversifying their funding sources has been helpful in facing this challenge. Having multiple funding sources has helped the tribe sustain service. Innovative Approaches CSKT has been innovative in seeking funding from a variety of sources. They have obtained FTA funds administered through the state, the FTA Tribal Transit Program, and state funds. When CSKT began operating as a public transit service, the Salish and Kootenai Colleges oper- ated their own fleet to provide transportation for students. CSKT was able to reach an agreement with the colleges to provide the majority of their transportation and receive funding from the colleges. The operation of Quick Silver is unique. The transit program operates the gas station, convenience store, and laundromat to generate funds which are then used as the local match for various grant programs. The tribe maintains a good working relationship with the Montana DOT, is active in the state transit association, and works to coordinate service with other nearby transportation programs, such as the Missoula Ravalli Transportation Management Association. Seneca Nation of Indians The Seneca Nation of Indians is located primarily in western New York and headquartered in Salamanca, although some Seneca have settled on reservations in Oklahoma and Ontario. The two reservations governed by the Seneca are Salamanca and Cattaraugus. Tribal members fre- quently travel between these areas, covering 70 miles round-trip. The Cayuga Nation also lives on Seneca land because the Cayuga do not have their own land. Transit Program Different departments provide transportation for particular department needs (see Figure 10.10). This includes the Education Department, which estimates it serves about 20 cli- ents a day taking children to Head Start, Pre-School, or Even Start programs. Other clients reach the programs by driving a personal vehicle (25 percent) or using the Silver Creek Central School District buses. The Employment and Training Department provides transportation by standing order, demand-response, or prior reservation. One driver is employed for 40 hours a week to provide that transportation. The department estimates that half the clients using this service are ages 6 years to 18 years. The other half are ages 19 years to 59 years. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program serves ten adult daily clients. Approximately half of these clients require transportation with a wheelchair lift. One full-time driver (40 hours a week) is employed to provide transportation for these clients. Volunteers with private vehicles also sometimes provide transportation. Other clients reach the Vocational Rehabilitation Program Figure 10.10. Seneca Nation of Indians transit bus. Image courtesy of AECOM.
tribal transit program Case Studies 177 by using contracted transportation, walking, or driving private vehicles. The Tribal 477 pro- gram also provides transportation to clients either through agency vehicles or volunteersâ private vehicles. The tribe operates two community health centers. Both centers provide their own transpor- tation for clients. Residents schedule a ride by standing order, demand-response, or advance reservation. There is no charge for this transportation service. Most of these trips are within Salamanca, although dialysis transportation is provided to Bradford five times a week. Although the tribe has been waiting to implement a new service, other local communities in the region have also been exploring transportation options. The tribe is in communication with these communities to coordinate transportation services within the region. Funding Approach In June 2009, the tribe completed a transit planning study using a $25,000 grant from FTA. While they were able to complete a study with this funding, they did not think it an appropriate time economically to implement a new transit system. A lack of financial reporting from each department regarding transportation inhibited the tribe in compiling a budget and identifying existing funding sources. The tribe received a second grant of $25,000 for continued transit planning. They plan to use this grant primarily for financial data collection regarding the different transportation programs provided by separate departments. Challenges One challenge the Seneca Nation faces in providing transportation is the lack of information regarding financial data for existing transportation services. These data are needed to determine possible funding sources and sustainability for a unified transit service. The challenge has been exacerbated by a slow economy, which has the tribe making financial cuts across the board and limits the possibility of starting a new service. Nation sovereignty also presents a challenge. Because the tribe is split between two reserva- tions, any transit program between reservations would have to use land outside the nationâs con- trol. The nation has concerns about using state funding, which might limit its sovereignty and so is wary about accepting funding from the state. The Seneca Nation is currently in the process of exploring what state funds might be available for a transportation service. Sitka Tribe of Alaska The Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA) is the federally recognized government for more than 4,000 tribal citizens who are primarily of Tlingit, Haida, Aleut, and Tsimpsian heritage in the Sheetâ- KÃ¡ area, which encompasses all of Baranof Island (Shee) and the southern and western half of Chicagof Island in the Alexander Archipelago of southeastern Alaska. The Tlingit Indians have inhabited Sitka since the last ice age. The tribe is headquartered in Sitka. Transit Program The STA transit system is administered by the Center for Community (CFC), a nonprofit umbrella agency that receives FTA Section 5311 funding and contracts out both the paratransit and fixed-route public transit services. The fixed-route service is operated by STA and the
178 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook paratransit service is operated by Southeastern Social Services (SESS). CFC pays the tribe to operate the system and STA leases buses from CFC. The tribe maintains and pays the insurance for the buses. This collaboration is called Community RIDE (or simply âthe RIDEâ). Transportation by SESS started in 1997 to serve elderly people and people with special needs. SESS uses three 15-passenger vans to provide transportation (Figure 10.11). They have limited the van size to 15 passengers so that the drivers do not need to have a commercial driverâs license (CDL) to drive for SESS. This door-to-door service is provided from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., 7 days a week, although it is only provided through Community RIDE from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. since those are Community RIDEâs hours of operation. STA service began operating in September 2002. In November 2007, the program expanded using tribal transit funds. This service began with two routes and has since expanded to include a third route. The fixed route serves approximately 110 passengers a day, the majority of which are youth. The service runs from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and they plan to expand the service to run from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays. Community Ride primarily serves areas within city limits. The tribe currently has six vehicles. Community Ride coordinates with Sitka Tours and Sitka Tribal Tours. The State of Alaska has successfully networked with many individual transit operators, and Community Ride has received support through this collaboration. Other transportation in the community is provided by the tribeâs Head Start program, which has a bus. A separate van service runs for individuals with non-emergency medical needs for Indian Health Services. Vehicles are shared as needed, though each transit service has its own dispatching system. Funding Approach Funding for SESS transit services comes from Title IIIB of the Older Americans Act. Dona- tions, which are for a book at a suggested price, also help fund the service. The suggested dona- tion for a book is $20 or $10 for seniors. Fares are collected for each ride. A ride costs $2.00 for passengers less than 60 years of age and just $1.00 for passengers aged 60 years or more. Funding for SESS also comes from the Older Americans Act Title IIIC, Title IV through the tribe, and from the city, which pays for gas and vehicle maintenance. One-third of the funding for STA transit is provided by a tribal transit grant from the Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) program. The other two-thirds are funded by FTA Section 5311(c). STA recently was awarded additional Tribal Transit funding. With these funds, the public tran- sit fixed-route system planned to expand in August 2010 to offer service on weeknights. CFC receives funding from FTA Sections 5310 and 5311 through the State of Alaska. It also receives local funding. Community RIDE has received FTA funding every year since 2006. Although they are looking into the possibility of becoming a direct recipient of FTA funding, they are aware that such a step would affect how service is offered because STA can directly receive the funding as a sovereign nation, but CFC and SESS cannot. Challenges Getting vans, van parts, and bus parts can be challenging in Sitka. Most products are flown or barged in. Sitka is considered an international destination for shipping purposes. There is also a need for a maintenance facility and a mechanic. The local mechanic will be closing shop, and it may become necessary for STA to ship buses to Juneau for larger repairs. Community RIDE Figure 10.11. A Com- munity RIDE bus in Alaska. Image courtesy of LSC.
tribal transit program Case Studies 179 has had trouble with its buses and, at any given time, two buses are usually at the maintenance facility. If they really need another vehicle, they will rent one from Sitka Tribal Tours. Funding also has been an issue for Sitkaâs transportation program. They would like financial support from the local municipal government to meet the local match requirements for federal grants. More agencies are applying for FTA money and so there seems to be less available to the tribe. Currently, Community RIDE does not have a sustainable funding source. Innovative Approaches Transit service is provided in Sitka through a cooperative arrangement of STA, SESS, and the umbrella organization CFC. This approach has allowed the community to access and leverage a variety of funding sources, including transportation funds for human services programs, FTA funding through the state, donations, the IRR program, and tribal transit funding. The collab- orative effort has allowed the participating organizations to provide more transit service than would be possible if each entity operated independently. Southern Ute Indian Tribe The Southern Ute Indian Tribe is located in southwestern Colorado and headquartered in Ignacio. The tribe is made up of two of the original seven bands of the Ute Indians. The Ute Indians are the oldest continuous inhabitants of Colorado and once occupied the mountainous areas of Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. The Southern Ute Reservation is adjacent to the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation, headquartered in Towaoc. Transit Program The Southern Ute Indian Tribe began providing public transit service in August 1999 (see Figure 10.12). Service began between Ignacio and Durango and has expanded to serve Bay- field and Aztec, New Mexico. Connections to other transit services in the region are available in Durango to the Durango T and in Aztec to the Farmington Red Apple Transit. The service began with financial support from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and a grant from the Colo- rado Department of Transportation (Colorado DOT) for FTA funding. The initial purpose of the service was to increase mobility among seniors and persons without cars or driverâs licenses. Initially, service was provided between Ignacio and Durango three times a day. That service was increased to four times a day, and in 2006, service was added between Bayfield and Durango four times a day. Service between Ignacio and Aztec, New Mexico, was added in 2009. Ridership on Road Runner Transit has more than doubled since 2006. Figure 10.12. Road Runner Transit buses in Colorado. Images courtesy of LSC (left) and Road Runner Transit (right).
180 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook The Southern Ute Community Action Programs, Inc. (SUCAP) is a nonprofit organization created by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in October 1966. SUCAP is not part of the tribe or tribal government. It is a delegate agency that provides programs for tribal members. In addition to operating Road Runner Transit, SUCAP operates Head Start, alcohol and substance treat- ment, the Ignacio Senior Center, job training, and youth services. SUCAP received the Durango Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit of the Year award in 2010. Initially, the tribe was the grant recipient for FTA funding. Because of tribal sovereignty, the tribe had concerns about the requirement that any disputes had to be settled in state court. The Town of Ignacio served as the grant recipient for several years, and in 2005, SUCAP became the grant recipient. SUCAP has been designated as a transit authority by tribal resolution. By designating SUCAP as the transit authority and grant recipient, the tribe has been able to maintain sovereignty. Funding Approach Revenue is obtained from a number of sources. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe provides fund- ing, but the towns of Ignacio and Bayfield also contribute a significant portion of the revenue. Tribal funding comes from gaming revenues at the Sky Ute Casino. La Plata County provides financial support as well. Grants are received through FTA Section 5311 and the New Freedom program administered by the State of Colorado. Vehicles for the Senior Center program have been purchased using grants through FTA Section 5310. The FTA Tribal Transit Program was used to fund the new service to Aztec, New Mexico, but that service had to be cut in 2010 because funding was not received through the Tribal Transit Program. SUCAP and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe have not sought to become a direct recipient of FTA funds. SUCAP is not eligible, but the tribe could choose that option. They have decided that the current arrangement works better for them with SUCAP as a grantee under the state. This supports their close working relationship with the Colorado DOT, local governments, and other transportation systems in the region. Challenges Road Runner Transit is continually challenged by the lack of local funds to match other grants. SUCAP has not applied for Section 16 JARC funding because of insufficient funds to match the grants. Town funding was reduced by 30 percent in 2009. Tribal sovereignty has been an issue from the beginning of the transit program. The tribe took issue with the requirement to settle disputes in state court as part of the FTA Section 5311 grant from the Colorado DOT. More recently the tribe has taken the position that the TEAM signature authority requirement for FTA would undermine tribal authority. They have added âapproved as to formâ to the agreement for the attorneyâs signature. Other challenges have included increased demand and finding sufficient numbers of drivers to provide reliable service. SUCAP does not have a facility to park buses. Buses are currently stored on the street. This has worked in the past, but with growth of the program, it is no longer a viable option. Innovative Approaches A key innovation in the success of Road Runner Transit was the designation of SUCAP as an authority to provide transit for the tribe. SUCAP is the designated grant recipient and signs grant agreements with the state. This has allowed the tribe to avoid issues related to tribal sovereignty
tribal transit program Case Studies 181 in their dealings with the state government. Funding has been obtained from a variety of sources, including federal and state grant programs. Key to the success has been financial support from the local town and county governments in addition to the tribal government. The tribe is actively involved in transportation planning in the region. The tribal transporta- tion planner sits on the regional transportation planning commission, and SUCAP is actively involved in regional transit planning. SUCAP is working with other local transit systems to form a regional transportation authority that will provide a mechanism to establish regional services. Road Runner Transit currently coordinates service with the Durango public transit system and provides a connection to the Farmington, New Mexico, system. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is located in North and South Dakota. The people of Standing Rock are members of the Dakota and Lakota nations. These nations consist of several Sioux divisions, including the Yanktonai in North Dakota and the Lakota primarily located in South Dakota. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe became a reservation in 1889. The tribe is head- quartered in Fort Yates, North Dakota. Transit Program Sitting Bull College has coordinated public transit for the Standing Rock Reservation since 1989. The college is a chartered program of the tribe, but the tribe does not provide oversight for the college or the transit program. For the first 10 years, Standing Rock Transportation (SR Transportation) consisted of one shuttle bus operating deviated fixed-route service twice a day to four communities. As of 2009, service was provided for 14 communities in South Dakota and North Dakota (Figure 10.13). There are 11 deviated fixed routes and two demand-response routes which run Monday through Friday. Interstate services are also available on Monday and Thursday to and from Bismarck, Pierre, Rapid City, and Sioux Falls. SR Transportation has four buses (22- to 25-passenger), three vans (18- to 19-passenger), and one minivan (5-passenger). Currently, the employment-related trips between urban and rural areas have the most rider- ship. Approximately 70 percent of rides are for the purpose of employment. SR Transportation does not serve the casinos, which are located in isolated rural areas. At one time, service was provided to the casinos, but ridership was so low that the service was discontinued. There is little, if any, coordination between the public transit service and the transportation offered by the tribe through Head Start and Indian Health Services (IHS), although IHS cli- ents do use SR Transportation. The service does coordinate with three other transit providers through an âinterlinerâ system that connects passengers to buses such as Greyhound and to other locations. In 2009, the South Dakota Department of Transportation (South Dakota DOT) paired SR Transportation with the non-Indian community of Mobridge to provide transporta- tion. The partnership has worked well, although they are still deciding what sort of route would best serve Mobridge. The service has also partnered with the City of Bismarck for passengers who are taken in an ambulance to the hospital, but have no way home. Previously, many of these passengers hitchhiked back to their communities, but now there is transportation available for them. The service partners with organizations which purchase tickets for their clients to use. Funding Approach SR Transportation has successfully applied for FTA Section 5311(c) funding and received the amount requested. The states of North Dakota and South Dakota also fund the program and Figure 10.13. Standing Rock Transportation vehicles include buses, vans, and one minivan. Image courtesy of AECOM.
182 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook provide some of the local match funds required federally. Sitting Bull College and the Standing Rock Tribe both provide additional matching funds. The program began with funding from the Ford Foundation. The tribe has received ARRA funding which they plan to use for bay and parking expansion at their facility. They received FTA Section 5310 funds as well and used that for vehicle purchases. The tribe did receive JARC funding when they started to expand the service from 1999â2001, but have stopped applying because it is competitive. The tribe receives FTA and JARC funding directly. Recently, SR Transportation began providing automobile service and selling tires in order to increase revenue. They are working on establishing a for-profit/not-for-profit business model to improve sustainability. Fares are charged for SR Transportation services, but they are minimal. The dial-a-ride service charges only 50 cents for a ride reserved the day before and $1.00 for same-day requests. On the reservation though, some people cannot afford even the 50-cent fare charge. Challenges The biggest challenge for SR Transportation has been providing service for the many rural communities that are geographically separated (see Figure 10.14). Some of the communities are as many as 60 or 70 miles apart. To serve these communities, more demand-response service is needed, but funding is limited. In addressing the challenge, the transit system has partnered with other agencies to get more people the rides they need. Coordinating transportation between communities becomes even more important because families who are eligible to receive TANF benefits have to fulfill different requirements in South Dakota than in North Dakota. In South Dakota, some of the services participating families are required to get to are in different towns and family members may not have a way to get there. It has also been a challenge to get people who need the service to actually use it. SR Transpor- tation is actively advertising their service to increase ridership among this population. In addi- tion to handing out and mailing brochures, SR Transportation advertises in the newspaper and on the radio. Drivers even go door-to-door to tell people about the service. Innovative Approaches Operation of the public transit service by the local tribally chartered college is unusual. While some tribal colleges provide transportation, it is typically limited to enrolled students. Sitting Bull College has been operating public transit service for more than 20 years. This approach has allowed funding from a variety of sources to be pooled to provide a more comprehensive service. Development of a combined for-profit and not-for-profit business model is unusual. SR Transportation is using private revenues from automobile service and tire sales to generate funds that may be used as local match money. Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians is located in western Washington State and headquartered in Arlington, Washington. The tribe is composed of descendants of a tribe which resided on the main branch of the Stillaguamish River in 1855, when the tribe was involved in ceding lands to the United States. At that time, no separate reservation was established for the Stillaguamish Tribe. Some tribal members moved onto the Tulalip Reservation, but most stayed in the area Figure 10.14. To accommodate the distances between rural communities served, transit systems may empha- size demand-response service and partner with other agencies. Image courtesy of LSC.
tribal transit program Case Studies 183 along the Stillaguamish River. The tribe did not have a reservation or become federally recog- nized as a sovereign nation until the 1970s. Transit Program The Stillaguamish Tribe Transit System (STTS) started as a transportation service run directly by the tribe for the tribeâs methadone clinic in 2003 because the clinicâs clients had no means of transportation. In 2004, trips were provided from the train station 22 miles north of the clinic. In 2007, the program expanded to provide both clinic-related and public demand-response service. There were 66 trips in February 2007. The clinic portion was initially under a Medicaid contract with the Northwest Regional Coun- cil and then later in 2007 under a contract with Paratransit Services, Inc., located in Bremerton, Washington. STTS provides trips to and from the clinic and trips to doctor appointments, for kidney dialysis, and other Medicaid-related trips. The use of STTS service is growing immensely (see Figure 10.15). In 2007, 6,703 trips were provided, including clinic-related services. That number more than doubled to 15,643 trips provided in 2009. As the service is open to anyone, STTS is serving a growing demand in the community among both tribal members and other local residents. The demand-response service is available for tribal members. STTS receives calls and tries to accommodate trip needs. STTS asks for at least 48 hours advance request for reservations. They only provide transportation for people who do not have another form of transportation available. The tribe has only 232 members, so the service is small and there are few scheduling conflicts. The tribe also operates a rideshare program called Stilly Crews Line. The program uses five GSA-leased vehicles, representing a mix of vans and sedans. They plan to purchase additional hybrid vehicles with funds recently received through a BIA-IRR grant. The rideshare program has one employee, the ride share coordinator. The program runs through volunteers. Car/ vanpool connections are based on employee applications for rides to various locations, on specific days and at specific times. Currently, eight pools are operating. The tribe provides vehicles and gas cards which are monitored closely in the Ride Share Pro- gram. Drivers are not paid, but their driving record is examined and they must meet certain requirements. Driver evaluations and vehicle inspection forms are regularly completed to ensure quality of service. Most of the rideshare users are employees within various tribal buildings. Riders agree to participate on a monthly basis. Fees for riding are calculated by distance traveled and are paid monthly by riders. Insurance is provided by the tribe. STTS provides an âensured ride homeâ by contracting with local taxi services in case a rider needs a ride home in an emergency situation. The tribe also provides transportation through the CHR program, which is run by the Still- aguamish Tribe Wellness Clinic. This service coordinates with STTS when either service needs help in transporting a client. They do not share dispatch service, but they will call each other as needed. Transportation is also provided by the Tribal Day Care program, which does not col- laborate with STTS. Providing transport for tribal members is STTSâs priority, but as part of the regional paratransit group they do coordinate to provide transportation for other people in the region as well. Funding Approach Revenue is obtained from several sources. Start-up funds came through an Administration for Native Americans (ANA) grant. The initial fixed-route system was funded by the ANA and Washington State Department of Transportation (Washington State DOT). Figure 10.15. STTS services have grown beyond health careâ related, demand- response services to incorporate ride sharing and regional paratransit services. Image courtesy of VJS.
184 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook STTS received FTA TTP Section 5311(c) funds in 2007 for a demand-response service in the amount of $94,000. They did not receive funds in 2006 or 2009, the other years that they applied for these funds. They did not receive an explanation as to why their application was declined. STTS received funds from FTA through Washington State DOT for 2009â2011, amounting to $95,000 from the Section 5311 program (but not the TTP 5311(c) program) and $85,000 from the State Rural Mobility Program. In 2008, the tribe was awarded FTA TTP funds for half of the requested amount. This money was used for the Ride Share Program. The Ride Share Program also just received a $410,000 IRR contract. The tribe also received funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus program through the IRR program for $220,000, which was used to purchase nine hybrid vehicles. The tribe also used its IRR allocation to buy three additional 7-passenger vans for the Ride Share Program. The tribe receives some FTA funds as a direct recipient and some FTA funds through the state. It has found that receiving these funds through the state is a bit more cumbersome than being a direct recipient because of detailed reporting requirements and the stateâs application process, which involves regional ranking of projects before project applications may be submitted. Challenges A primary challenge for STTS has been coordinating trips well. Because most of the trips are for demand-response service, it is difficult to provide trips when advance notice is not given. STTS has had a hard time getting clients to make reservations in advance. It has also been dif- ficult to coordinate the demand-response service with the Medicaid service to efficiently get passengers where they need to go. The tribe first tried a fixed-route system, but soon learned that a demand-response system better served the population. Funding has been a challenge for the tribe. When the tribe applied for an FTA grant for the Ride Share Program, it initially applied for a $300,000 grant, but only 50 percent of the request was approved. The tribe decided to use this smaller amount for a scaled-down version of the Ride Share Program, which started in November 2009. The tribe has been frustrated by the long process for receiving grant funds. It applies for a grant in June, but does not hear back until December. Innovative Approaches Operation of a carpool and vanpool is unusual among tribal transit programs. The tribe has set up a ridesharing program that includes vehicles and a subsidy for participation in the pro- gram through provision of vehicles and use of gas cards. Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians is located in north-central North Dakota on the land first designated to them in 1882. The reservation proper is only 6 miles by 12 miles in area, but the Turtle Mountain Service Unit includes 938 square miles of land in Rolette County. The band is headquartered in Belcourt, North Dakota. Transit Program Turtle Mountain Tribal Transit Service (TM Tribal Transit) is a fixed-route service with one route. It is operated directly by the tribal government. Service began in August 2009. The origi- nal route was changed in November 2009 in an attempt to better accommodate needs in the
tribal transit program Case Studies 185 community. The transit service has just one bus and provides approximately 30 rides a day (Figure 10.16). Service is provided from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Because of the limited hours, casino employees who work 8-hour shifts are unable to use TM Tribal Transit. Transportation to and within Belcourt has the highest demand. The tribe was awarded an ARRA grant in 2009 and plans to add another fixed route as well as demand-response service using that grant. The tribe plans to complete a new facility and shelters using ARRA funding. TM Tribal Transit has several transit partners to provide service to clients in need of wheel- chair-accessible demand-response transportation. For these clients, TM Tribal Transit calls Royal Coach or the dial-a-ride in Belcourt to provide that trip. The dial-a-ride service is a state- funded senior meals transportation service operated by the tribe on the reservation. Royal Coach Transportation is a taxi service providing commercial transportation. Nutrition United is run by Rolette County Transit (RCT). RCT provides dial-a-ride service to the general public as well as elderly and disabled individuals in non-reservation portions of Rolette County. If one of these dial-a-ride services is overwhelmed with demand, they call TM Tribal Transit for assistance. The tribe works with Royal Coach to provide service from Kent and Green Acres to Rolla. The transit service pays Royal Coach $50 a day for 4 days a week. For people who do not need wheel- chair access but have transportation needs that the fixed-route service is unable to meet, TM Tribal Transit provides a minivan from the tribeâs Department of Transportation to provide that service. Funding Approach TM Tribal Transit receives funds from FTA Section 5311(c) and ARRA. FTA funds were received for 2007 and 2008, but the tribe did not apply in 2009. ARRA funds were awarded in 2009. TM Tribal Transit does not receive any state funding at this point, although the nutrition program does receive state funding. TM Tribal Transit does not currently have contact with the North Dakota DOT except through one state representative who sits on the advisory council. Both the fixed-route and demand-response services are available to the general public. A one- way fare for either service is $1.00. Challenges The biggest challenge for TM Tribal Transit has been a lack of funding, particularly for another driver. TM Tribal Transit has only one driver, so they are unable to accommodate all transporta- tion requests. At present they do not have enough funds to employ another driver. Recent staff changes have been a problem for TM Tribal Transit. The person who imple- mented the original fixed-route service took the records for that route with her when she left, and the tribe did not realize that she had not applied for FTA Tribal Transit funding in 2009. The tribe was thus forced to stretch the funds for 2008. The tribe used their funds only for operating and did not purchase any vehicles. Ridership was low on the original route designed by TM Tribal Transit, sometimes as low as two riders in a day. TM Tribal Transit decided to change the route to increase ridership. Low ridership could have to do with the fact that casino employees work 8-hour shifts and the transit service only runs from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Because of the low ridership, TM Tribal Transit is looking into providing demand-response service instead. Low ridership also could be due to the fact that the area has never had a public transit service. People in the area are not familiar with it, and although they may hear advertisements on the radio or see them in the newspaper, they are not sure how public transportation works. Figure 10.16. A Turtle Mountain Tribal Transit Service bus. Image courtesy of AECOM.
186 Developing, enhancing, and Sustaining tribal transit Services: a Guidebook Yakama Indian Nation The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation are located in south-central Wash- ington along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountain Range. The tribe is headquartered in Toppenish. The people of the Yakama Nation are descendents of 14 tribes and bands that were federally recognized under the Yakama Treaty of 1855. The reservation is over 1 million acres. In 1933, the Yakama organized as the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. Currently, 10,261 people are enrolled in this confederation and more than 31,799 people are living on or near the reservation. Transit Program Yakama Nation Tribal Transit began offering service in September 2007 and in 2008 reg- istered their name as Pahto Public PassageÂ® with the State of Washington. The transit service is operated by a private contractor, which is contracted with the tribal government. The tribe decided to contract out this work because it did not have the experience or insurance necessary at the time to start a transit service. This fare-free service started as one fixed route from Toppenish to White Swan, operating from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. In September 2008, another fixed route was added to include service to other regions of the reservation. In 2010, a dial-a-ride service was added as well as Saturday service, and two intercity routes connecting the cities of Goldendale, Parker, Union Gap, and Yakima to their service area. In 2010, average monthly ridership was 2,515 riders. Pahto Pub- lic Passage has two 26-passenger buses, one 20-passenger bus, three 12-passenger buses, one minivan, and two sedans which are owned by the contractor (see Figure 10.17). Four routes run through the week: from Toppenish to White Swan; Toppenish to Wapato to White Swan; Toppenish to Wapato to Parker to Union Gap to Yakima; and Toppenish to Goldendale. Two routes operate on Saturdays. The transit program coordinates service with the various organizations providing transporta- tion in the area. The CHR program provides transportation for medical-related trips using three GSA-leased vehicles and two tribal-owned vehicles. The Area Agency on Aging provides trans- portation for the elderly to access meal sites, medical appointments, and shopping. Reservations have to be made in advance. Each of these programs will call Yakama Nation Tribal Transit when they cannot provide transportation for their clients. Pahto Public Passage provides these needed rides when possible. Funding Approach Revenues for Yakama Nation Tribal Transit come from a number of sources. FTA funds cover the majority of costs. The state provides some matching funds, and an additional local match is provided by the tribe. Yakama received FTA Section 5311(c) funding in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. They have elected to be direct recipients from FTA for this funding. They also have worked with the State of Washington to apply for grants they could receive through the state. The tribe reports that the state DOT has been helpful and supportive. Challenges Yakama Nation Tribal Transitâs biggest challenge in providing transit service has been reach- ing everyone who needs transportation. It has been difficult to set operational hours which can accommodate all the people in need of transportation. The schedule has been changed four times since the beginning of the transit program on a trial-and-error basis for certain stops and Figure 10.17. Pahto Public PassageÂ® operates a fare-free service under contract with the Yakama Nation. Image courtesy of Pahto Public PassageÂ®.
tribal transit program Case Studies 187 locations. The service is evaluated on a quarterly basis. This evaluation is done in coordina- tion with the Area Agency on Aging, CHR, other transportation providers, and social services programs. The transit service has adjusted the route to avoid left turns, which were unsafe and caused congestion during peak travel hours. Innovative Approaches The Yakama Nation chose to contract with a private contractor to operate the service. This approach had the advantage of allowing the Yakama Nation to provide quality service at a lower cost. The Yakama Nation also has partnered with many school districts and after-school pro- grams to teach students how to use public transportation.