In pursuit of his goal of creating a transit system within the Seminole Nation, Principal Chief Enoch Kelly Haney announced April 4 that the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration awarded the Seminole Nation a $145,000 Tribal Transit Grant.
From that grant, the Seminole Nation Transportation Department created the Seminole Nation Transit Department. Since then, the department has received nearly $500,000 in grants from the FTA, Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and match money from the Seminole Nation.
The Seminole Nation Transit was selected by the Transit Cooperative Research Program of the Transportation Research Board to participate in the study entitled “Developing, Enhancing, and Sustaining Tribal Transit Services.” This study should help identify improvements the department can pursue.
This Seminole Nation Transit System is unique in transit systems because all of the area it serves is rural. Unlike large cities, rural areas have different traffic patterns and most of the people needing bus services are elderly or more than two miles off the main roadways. After months of trial and error, the Transit Department has a system that caters to the needs of the citizens of Seminole County.
The Seminole Nation Transit currently operates two fixed routes with route deviations. There is a Konawa/Sasakwa Route that runs four times a day and a Seminole/Mission (Mekusukey) Route that runs six times a day. There are also miscellaneous trips transporting everywhere in the county throughout the day. All trips require 24 hours notice or one business day. If a ride is needed on Monday morning, a call has to be placed before Friday afternoon to schedule.
The Transit Department currently operates two buses and two minivans. It also employs three drivers and one administrator. All four vehicles are American’s with Disabilities Act compliant.
The goals of the Transit Program are to help the citizens of Seminole County access employment, health care, nutrition, education, recreation and social and human service support. The breakdown for use of the transit system is as follows; 43 percent of the transit’s service is for employment, 14 percent is for nutrition, 13 percent is for medical, two percent is for education and 27 percent is for shopping, social and human services, and other needs.
As the Seminole Nation Transit grows it holds true to its motto of “Making a Difference One Ride at a Time.” Since September the Transit Department has grown from making 358 trips per month to just over 1,400 trips in the month of March.
The Seminole Nation Transit system is a public system that provides free rides for all people in Seminole County. The hours of operation are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.