The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced $3.25 million in grant funding for five Alaska Native Villages in a statement earlier this week. The money comes from the FTA’s Tribal Transit Program, and one village in the Bering Straits region is receiving over a million dollars.
The funding is part of a $9.9 million grant that will be awarded across 22 Tribes and communities to improve rural public transit systems.
The Native Village of Unalakleet (NVU) will receive $1.4 million to maintain transit routes serving assisted living facilities year round. The village will expand and maintain transit to help residents access the health clinic, grocery store, tribal office, post office, airport, and other services.
The announcement comes a month after the U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Anchorage, Kotzebue, Juneau and Haines.
According to the release, FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez says the project would improve public transportation and connections, and will “help keep people in tribal communities and Alaska Native Villages moving.”
“Through President Biden’s infrastructure package, we are improving transit in Tribal Nations around our country,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in the release. “These grants will help ensure Tribal residents have more reliable, affordable ways to access jobs, schools, and essential resources.”
Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs Arlando Teller says the funds will directly support creating clean and accessible options for the communities. “FTA’s Tribal Transit Program assists communities in addressing their unique transportation issues — taking to heart community involvement to ultimately support sustainable transportation solutions.
The Tribal Transit Program is a competitive grant program that allows Tribes to purchase transit vehicles, upgrade bus facilities, and expand transit options.
Photo at top: City of Unalakleet from a distance. Photo by Lisa Haugen (KNOM)