Navajo Transit System to restart bus services, includes Shiprock-to-Fort Defiance route

Routes will operate on weekdays; no fares charged

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
The Navajo Transit System will restart bus services on the Navajo Nation in accordance to COVID-19 protocols for public transportation.
  • Riders must wear face masks and practice social distancing.
  • Seating will be available in designated areas, and buses will undergo cleaning and sanitizing.
  • Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should refrain from riding buses.

FARMINGTON — Bus service by the Navajo Transit System will return on June 7 after stopping last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Four routes will return to service under the transit system's soft restart, and bus fare will not be charged for now due to the pandemic, Navajo Nation government officials announced on June 3.

The four routes will operate on weekdays and are:

  • Route 3 from Kayenta, Arizona; to Fort Defiance, Arizona
  • Route 5 from Fort Defiance to Gallup
  • Route 9 from Dilkon, Arizona, to Fort Defiance
  • Route 14 from Shiprock to Fort Defiance

The transit system is following protocols for COVID-19 issued by the tribal government and the Federal Transit Administration, which provides federal funding for the tribe's bus services.

The Navajo Transit System welcomed 10 new hybrid buses on June 3 in Window Rock, Ariz.

Riders must wear face masks and practice social distancing. Seating will be available in designated areas, and buses will undergo cleaning and sanitizing.

Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should refrain from riding buses.

Marcus Tulley, the transit system's manager, said because seating is limited, the transit system will dispatch more than one bus for each route to accommodate any overflow.

For more information, contact Navajo Transit System at 928-729-4002 or at navajotransit.navajo-nsn.gov or by email, navajotransit@outlook.com or on the Navajo Transit System Facebook page.

The transit system received approval from the Navajo Health Command Operations Center to resume services, Tulley said.

He added that the four routes were selected based on ridership. Depending on the tribe's public health emergency orders for the virus and its status on the reopening plan, all routes could return to operation in July, he said.

Marcus Tulley, manager of Navajo Transit System, talks on June 3 about the 39 new hybrid buses the bus service will acquire this month.

"We were eager to get our buses running. We were receiving a lot of calls, a lot of requests from people that use transit as a mode of transportation," he said.

The soft restart is not the only update from the transit system.

On June 3, the transit system welcomed 10 new hybrid buses, which are part of the 39 new hybrid buses the entity expects to receive this month. 

The transit system has been working to replace its aging fleet with hybrid buses that vary in size from bus manufacturer, ARBOC Specialty Vehicles.

The hybrid buses save fuel, are more efficient, reduce emissions through regenerative braking and electric motors, and are handicapped accessible, according to a press release from the Office of the President and Vice President.

The new buses are part of the work by the transit system to revise bus routes and enhance services, Tulley said.

"We're very excited. It's exciting new times for us," he said.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, center, Vice President Myron Lizer, left, and Navajo Transit System employees welcome new hybrid buses on June 3 in Window Rock, Ariz.

The President's Office press release states that the transit system was awarded last year a $6 million grant to acquire new buses through the Federal Transit Administration and in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Transportation, 

"The additional hybrid buses will allow Navajo Transit System to continue providing safe and reliable public transportation for Navajo elders, students, employees and families," President Jonathan Nez said in the release.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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