Cherokee Nation Transit System Gets New Buses, New Look

Cherokee Nation Transit System Gets New Buses, New Look


The Cherokee Nation’s transit system has a new look. Three new buses were recently wrapped with Cherokee Nation branded decals. The Cherokee Nation has worked with local transit providers KATS and Pelivan for several years but much of the public has been unaware that Cherokee Nation was involved in the partnership.

Transit officials hope the new, clearly marked buses will help create more awareness about the transit services offered by the Cherokee Nation and increase ridership along the bus routes. The wraps feature a striking red, black and white color scheme, with a subtle stickball motif.

“These buses are a wonderful addition to our Cherokee Transit System. We promote the Cherokee Transit but people only see KATS or Grand Gateway Pelivan buses. Now, with these beautifully wrapped buses, people will see the Cherokee Transit System on the road and see that we have a transit system in place and running strong,” said Sherry Waters, infrastructure data coordinator for the Cherokee Nation Roads Program.

The new buses were bought with money from the Federal Transit Administration and the Indian Reservation Roads Program at $60,561 per vehicle. The new buses will soon be seen along Cherokee Transit System’s Sallisaw-Tahlequah, Pryor-Catoosa and Salina-Tahlequah routes. Many of the riders are Cherokee Nation employees and NSU students, but the routes are open to anyone who wants to participate. And with fares that are only $1 for a round-trip ride, the savings for riders can be quite substantial.

Norma Eli works in Cherokee Nation Real Estate Services and has been riding on the Sallisaw-Tahlequah route since last summer. She estimates that she saves anywhere from $50 to $70 a week by utilizing the transit system. Eli has seen the bus she takes to and from work grow in popularity recently.

“When I first started riding the bus, there were only two or three people on it. In the last month or so, the bus has been pretty close to being full. I would recommend other people take the bus. It can save them a lot of money.”

Cherokee Nation Transit buses can hold 15 passengers in regular seating with space for two wheelchairs. The Cherokee Nation has signed lease agreements with local area transit providers and had the new buses delivered to them Dec. 20. The new buses will be on their routes soon after delivery to the lessees.

To learn more about the Cherokee Nation Transit System and for bus routes and schedules, visit

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Gianni's picture
Submitted by Gianni on
Where to start. There are lots of things Metro COULD do, but lekliy wont. Part of the reason for this is that Metro's primary mission is NOT transit it is economic development.But for starters, Metro could try running a transit system, not a commuter system. Schedules and timetables are geared for the average worker during the week, not service outside of work times. While there is service on off-hours, it is limited. Metro and its buses are geared for the lowest common denominator of traveler those that must use it. There is absolutely nothing being done to attract those that could CHOOSE to use it. Buses go, primarily, where lower income riders are forget trying to get around in the county (or, for that matter, the 270 loop) by bus. While it is not a bad thing that the bus serves lower income areas, if that is the ONLY place buses go, people that have the ability to choose will go elsewhere. The bus system also takes TIME (and has some really whacky connections another thing that puts off potential riders) and for those who could choose to take Metro, time is money. When you have time (say, like going to a sporting event), its fine because you know the bus will take you there and you know the bus will take you back (in other words, it will actually meet a schedule) but when you have to be somewhere (like work, or to pick up children, a doctor's appointment, whatever) taking the bus is difficult, particularly when they are late. Most of the buses I have ridden (full disclosure: I have a monthly pass and use it regularly) are chronically late by 4 to 12 minutes. Again, time is money and if I am going to be chronically late because of Metro, I'll find another way to get there. This means making connections is difficult (like, getting off a train and watching your bus leave when the next one isnt for another half hour), and in the winter who wants to wait that half hour outside in the cold for the next bus? In several instances this past month I have also seen buses going WAY over the speed limit at times. Why? Their drivers were about to be off, and they wanted to finish their run and get back to the garage. Additionally, particularly at the North Hanley station, I have seen buses purposefully put up their Out of Service sign just so the driver doesn't have to let folks on before his/her time regardless of the number of riders waiting or the temperature outside. The buses also do not run late enough. Again schedules are based around the commuter, not someone who wants to take public transit. Most nightlife in the St. Louis area shuts down between 1:30am and 3:00am. Don't even think about getting a night bus because there aren't any I realize there may be financial reasons (among others) for this, but it goes back to catering to commuters who have to use the system, and not riders that might choose to. There is little to no advertising in the media, and what advertising there is seems to be geared towards the 99 downtown trolley . Buses tend to run when and where it is convenient for Metro to run them, not necessarily where folks (those that can choose, that is) need or want to go. At times, it is actually easier to take Amtrak from Kirkwood into downtown at night than it is to catch a bus either because of lack of service, or because I would need to make two connections or better. Then you have all the time and effort spent in promoting a trolley which is NOT a trolley. It makes St. Louis look like it isn't interested in real transit. I realize it is intended to be a branded service, but as someone not from here originally, sorry all you've done is encourage me NOT to ride it. Its a downtown BUS, not a downtown trolley. I have ranted here before about inadequate signage, so I'll just say that our bus stop signs are out of date and horrid. If you don't do your research ahead of time, you'd never be able to ride the bus in St. Louis because the signs that do exist nine times out of 10 are wrong because they are years out of date. Along the same lines, have you seen where some of the bus stops are? On the shoulder of busy roads, or places where there is little to no pedestrian access. Particularly in bad weather, how exactly am I supposed to safely get to a bus stop when I have several YARDS of deep snow and ice to traipse through? In many cases, there isn't sidewalk there to begin with. There is the chronic problem of continually being hit up for money for bus/train fare. If it were every now and again, it would be one thing but it isn't. That doesn't sit well with potential riders that could choose to ride. Finally, there is the general disorganization of some of Metro's stations (particularly Civic Center and Central West End). Unless you know where you're going, forget trying to figure out which bus is going to the loop in front of the Sheraton or going to stop at the shelters just north.Wow, that's quite the rant. Didn't intend it, but you did ask.