At the White House Tribal Nations Conference yesterday, we announced that 72 American Indian and Alaska Native tribes will receive a total of $15.5 million to enhance local public transit service on tribal lands.
Transportation is not simply how we get from one point to another—it’s how we connect to opportunity.
That is especially true in Indian Country, where a rebuilt road or a new transit system can be the difference between a child going to school or not—or the difference between a tribal elder going to the doctor or not. And no one knows better than America's Tribal leaders that transportation is the key to accessing jobs.
Today's grants--from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Tribal Transit Program--will enable tribal governments to continue providing the critical transit services that thousands depend on every day, and in some cases to plan for future transit as well.
As FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff said, "Access to affordable public transit is a lifeline for millions of hard-working families. We want to ensure that every American Indian or Alaskan native who needs a ride to earn a paycheck, attend school, see a doctor, or buy groceries has that opportunity."
These grants will fund continued bus service for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and a new dial-a-ride transit system for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Southern California. Another grant will study ways to connect the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians to the nearest regional transit system in Ashland County, Wisconsin.
You can find a complete list of these valuable projects at www.fta.dot.gov/12305_14934.html.
But our work doesn’t end with these grants. The new two-year surface transportation law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), double's funding for our Tribal Transit Program to $30 million for each of the next two years, making possible even greater benefits for Native Americans and Alaska Native tribes.
As we look to the future, we’ll continue taking our cues from tribal leaders. We’ll continue to work with tribal leadership to invest in the infrastructure that will best serve their communities. And we’ll continue helping build a brighter future for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.