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2004 Transportation Planning Excellence Awards

Tribal Transportation Planning

Honorable Mention

The Navajo Transit System Long Range Plan

The Navajo Transit System
Window Rock, Arizona

Navajo Transit System logo.In 2003, the Navajo Transit System (NTS) completed a Long Range Plan to guide the gradual strengthening and expansion of its services and facilities. This Long-Range Plan was the first of its kind in the history of the NTS and represents a unique achievement in Tribal transportation planning. While short-range, three-year plans are commonly prepared in order to secure federal transit funding, those plans are limited by their lack of ability to pursue the "big picture," and are not appropriate tools for implementing major changes in strategy or direction. The NTS recognized that a longer-range vision was needed to address the large-scale route restructuring and capital improvements needed for the system, including a new administrative and maintenance facility. In developing the Plan, it became evident that a clear and financially sustainable long-term strategy would be necessary to meet future transit demand across the Reservation. The result was a Long-Range Plan unique in its assessment of need and in its prescription of incremental and cumulative change.

The Navajo Nation is by far the largest Tribal reservation in the United States, covering over 26,000 square miles and comprising over 280,000 members. The NTS currently has fifteen vehicles serving seven routes. The Long-Range Plan found that, given the continuation of historical trends, transit demand is anticipated to outpace system growth by a factor of seven over the next 20 years. It was clear that the NTS faces some unique challenges in meeting future demand within current funding levels. It also became clear that, given the real funding constraints of the past two decades, the Plan would need to carefully prioritize improvements. Based on a comprehensive assessment of existing capital facilities and service levels, ridership data, tribal leadership priorities, and Reservation demographics, the NTS Long-Range Plan identified and prioritized a series of capital and service improvements over the next 20 years.

In developing the Plan, the Navajo Transit System conducted extensive outreach across three states and to more than 100 Tribal chapters. This effort brought together passengers, tribal leaders, and representatives from the Navajo Nation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Indian Reservation Road System to collaborate on developing a long-range plan for the Navajo Transit System. The plan demonstrates a realistic need for regional and community transportation. It includes strategies for expanding mode choices and providing access to healthcare and employment for those living in remote, isolated areas with few transportation options.


Perry Yazzie
Navajo Transit System
PO Drawer 1330
Window Rock, AZ 86515
(928) 729-4113

Updated: 7/23/2012
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