In July 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, launched a new program called the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI) to help ensure that getting a ride to work or to a medical appointment would no longer be an obstacle for veterans or their families.
The VTCLI awards grants to local transportation providers and other groups so they can better coordinate and deliver important transit information through “one-call” or “one-click” centers.
The program’s scope in northeast Oklahoma was to create a 25-county "one-call" Call Center coordinating transportation in and around the Tulsa and Muskogee Veterans Administration medical clinics, incorporating urban, rural, tribal, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and VA transportation.
The Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) was awarded two consecutive VTCLI grants for Round I and Round II of this project. The grants awarded were capital funding specifically for technology needs for transit providers to enable them to link together and to better coordinate transit information through a one-call/one-click call center. This one-call/one-click center means veterans throughout the more than 25-county region would have one phone number to call for a ride connection.
An invitation to participate in the project went out to transit providers across the region, and six well-known and well-established transit services responded. We plan to continue to collaborate and build partnerships with other transit services in the more than 25-county region.
Pelivan Transit in Big Cabin, Okla., offered to use its Call Center as the central hub for the project. The grants helped facilitate the upgrades needed at the existing location, bringing about a state-of-the-art call center and the technology to support it. The project was completed in late 2015.
The six founding transit providers — Pelivan Transit, KI BOIS Area Transit (KATS), Cimarron Public Transit System, Morton Comprehensive Health Services, Muskogee County Transit Authority and Muscogee (Creek) Nation — saw the need for coordinating transportation resources for veterans and understood the importance such a system would be for the veteran community of northeast Oklahoma. The transit agencies now work together as Veterans’ Ride Connect.