By Charlie Rutkowski

CTAA Visits the Hopi Tribe and Penobscot Nation

Oct. 1, 2019

Two of the participants in the CTAA’s Tribal Passenger Transportation Technical Assistance Program are the Hopi Tribe in Arizona and the Penobscot Nation in Maine. CTAA’s Director of Technical Assistance Program Charlie Rutkowski made the initial site visit to both projects in early September.

Hopi Tribe

Hopi Tribal members live primarily in 12 separate villages scattered through 2,533 square mile Reservation. Most of these villages are located atop mesas, which compound the challenges of serving them. The Hopi Tribe is also facing significant economic hardships with the closing of the Navajo Power Plant and the nearby mine that supplied it with coal. Coal mine royalties have provided approximately 85 percent of The Tribe’s annual revenue. Enhanced transit services are seen as a tool to link tribal members with opportunities for economic empowerment, including jobs, training and educational programs beyond the Hopi Reservation. CTAA staff launched the technical assistance project with a community meeting to help engage tribal members and identify perceptions of unmet mobility needs. Despite the significant need for transit services, the Tribe is unable to recruit sufficient qualified drivers to fill its roster, resulting in frequent cancellation of runs. CTAA will continue collecting data on existing services and needs as it identifies effective strategies to meet tribal members’ transportation needs.

Penobscot Reservation

During Rutkowski’s visit to the Penobscot Reservation in Maine, he facilitated a meeting among tribal agency staff to discuss gaps in transportation services. The Penobscot Reservation is close to the employment opportunities and services in the nearby non-tribal communities of Old Town, Orono and Bangor, but there are no direct transit connections from the Reservation to these destinations. The project will identify strategies to address this gap. One possible strategy is a commuter services to the increasing job openings at Jackson Laboratories in Ellsworth and Bar Harbor, a major producer of laboratory mice.

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The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and its members believe that mobility is a basic human right. From work and education to life-sustaining health care and human services programs to shopping and visiting with family and friends, mobility directly impacts quality of life.