Cherokee Nation awarded $1.3M DOT grant for new electric buses

August 28, 2018

The Cherokee Nation W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex currently has electric car charging stations for electric cars that opened in 2017. The tribe plans to build four new charging stations for electric buses.The Cherokee Nation W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex currently has electric car charging stations for electric cars that opened in 2017. The tribe plans to build four new charging stations for electric buses.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation recently received a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to purchase two eco-friendly electric buses to transport employees and tribal citizens to work and tribal health centers.

Cherokee Nation is also using the funds from the Federal Transit Administration to construct four new charging stations in Tahlequah, Catoosa, West Siloam Springs and Stilwell to power the buses. The tribe currently runs those bus routes but will convert them to electric routes. Electric buses produce zero tailpipe emissions and will reduce harmful carbon emissions within the tribe’s jurisdiction by nearly 5 million pounds over the lifespan of the vehicles.

“I’m proud that we’re finding new and innovative ways to limit carbon emissions and improve air quality,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill. “I’m even more proud that we’re managing to do that while also providing reliable public transportation that helps our citizens connect with the jobs, doctors, and services that they need.”

Cherokee Nation’s transit services produce more than 600,000 vehicle miles for an average of 100,000 riders each year within the tribe’s 14-county tribal jurisdiction. Routes increase the mobility of Cherokee Nation citizens and for many, represent a lifeline to vital services.

“Just more than a year ago, Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed an executive order outlining our responsibility as stewards of our land to reduce Cherokee Nation’s carbon emissions by 25 percent by the year 2027,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. “We also pledged as a tribe to lessen the impact climate change will have on our citizens not only now, but for the next seven generations. With the assistance of this U.S. Department of Transportation grant, we can take advantage of yet another clean-energy opportunity to help us become more energy efficient while also providing important transit options to our citizens.”

Cherokee Nation’s project is one of 52 low- or no-emission grants awarded by the Federal Transit Administration in 41 states. Cherokee Nation is also the only tribe in the country and the only entity in Oklahoma to receive the federal funding.

“FTA is proud to partner with transit providers across the country to support their transit priorities,” K. Jane Williams, acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, said in a press release. “The participation from our local partners shows a dedication to improving access to jobs and opportunities.”

The Cherokee Nation opened the first tribal solar canopy car charging station in Oklahoma to charge its electric cars at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah in 2017. The tribe also has a paper recycling center for employees and pledged to curb the purchase of Styrofoam, to help cut waste and reduce carbon emissions.