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Oklahoma gets $4.28 million in grants for rural transportation service

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has been awarded $4.28 million in federal grants to help upgrade rural public transportation fleets and facilities, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced last week.

About $3.9 million of the grant money will be used to help 12 Oklahoma rural transit agencies purchase buses, vans, minivans and related equipment to better serve 51 rural Oklahoma counties, state transportation officials said.

Another $407,000 will be used to help two state transit agencies upgrade facilities.

The federal grants cover 85 percent of vehicle costs and 80 percent of the cost of facility upgrades, while the remainder is paid with local matching funds.

The largest federal grant recipient will be Kibois Area Transit System, which is slated to receive more than $1.08 million.

Kibois is based in Stigler and serves several eastern Oklahoma counties. The agency plans to use the money to help purchase 16 vans and two minivans.

First Capital Trolley of Guthrie will be another large grant recipient. That transit system, which serves Logan and Lincoln Counties, will receive more than $762,000.

First Capital Trolley plans to use $119,000 to help purchase two buses, $355,725 to help buy nine minivans and $287,596 to help repair its crumbling parking lot and construct additional covered parking areas for employee and transit vehicles.

Rural transit systems serve a vital role in Oklahoma, state transportation officials said.

"For many of the elderly, disabled, and low-income individuals who live in rural Oklahoma and lack access to a personal vehicle, these providers offer an indispensable opportunity to fully participate as a member of their community," said Brenda Perry, an agency spokeswoman.

"Last year these twelve rural agencies provided 1,502,228 trips, including approximately 279,762 trips to the elderly, 177,557 trips to the disabled, and 215,926 trips to elderly disabled residents."

The grant money will be used to help purchase 52 public transportation vehicles that will replace vehicles that are beyond their useful life, as well as to buy 22 additional new vehicles to expand rural services statewide, Perry said.

All the new vehicles will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, officials said.

Red River Public Transportation Service, based in Frederick, will join First Capital Trolley in receiving money for facility improvements.

Red River is slated to receive $120,000 in federal grant funds and will use the money to help rehabilitate its 65-year-old bus maintenance facility in Frederick.

Restrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be built and upgrades will be made to help staff maintain the agency's transportation fleet, Perry said. Outdated heating and cooling systems also will be replaced.

Other Oklahoma federal grant recipients include:

• Cherokee Strip Transit, based in Enid — $356,150 to help buy six minivans and two vans.

• Cimarron Public Transit System, base in Pawnee — $335,274 to help buy five minivans and two small buses.

• Southern Oklahoma Rural Transportation System, based in Durant — $416,925 to help buy a bus and nine minivans.

• Southwest Transit, based in Altus — $145,605 for two small buses.

• Washita Valley Transit, based in Chickasha — $39,525 to help buy a minivan.

• Delta Public Trust, based in Lindsay — $118,575 to help buy three minivans.

• Enid Transit, based in Enid — $259,600 to help buy four small buses and 20 radios.

• JAMM Transit, based in Tishomingo — $352,995 to help buy four buses and 47 cameras.

• MAGB Transportation Inc., based in Fairview — $118,575 to help buy three minivans.

• Pelivan Transit, based in Big Cabin — $172,734 to help buy two small buses and a minivan.

The federal grants that Oklahoma rural transit agencies will receive are part of $366.2 million in grants that the Federal Transit Administration awarded for 107 projects in 50 states and territories.

Randy Ellis

For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two... Read more ›