The Cherokee Nation replaced several gas-powered transit buses last week with new environmentally-friendly buses that run on compressed natural gas (CNG). Three of the new buses will shuttle Cherokee citizens on routes in Sequoyah, Adair, Cherokee, McIntosh and Wagoner counties, and one bus will service Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Ottawa, Rogers and north Tulsa counties. The three buses serving Sequoyah and other counties will be leased to KiBois Area Transit System, also known as KATS. The fourth bus will be leased to Pelvan Transit. The gas-powered buses will not only save the tribe on fuel costs, but also reduce emission levels, and will shuttle Cherokee citizens to health appointments, job and grocery stores. The Cherokee Nation bought the CNG buses using a $300,000 Federal Transit Administration grant they received last spring. Cherokee Nation was one of two tribes in Oklahoma to receive the funds.
Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation Secretary of State, said, "Transitioning our bus fleet to CNG means the Cherokee Nation transportation efforts are now more environmentally friendly, more efficient and more cost effective in the long term. By using CNG, we'll be able to get better miles per gallon, stretch our dollars and lead by example. Because Oklahoma is an international leader in CNG production, we are utilizing a local fuel source to power the Cherokee Nation's fleet. That supports good jobs in Oklahoma."
More tribal and Cherokee Nation citizens are using the subsidized transit program. In 2014, the Cherokee Nation estimates it provided 80,000 rides, up from 50,000 rides in 2013. The tribe contracts with four transportation companies to offer low-costs fixed or on-demand route transit services in northeast Oklahoma. Fixed route trips cost citizens, and the public, just $1 round trip.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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