New transit options allow visitors to leave their vehicle at the accommodation

June 16 – Getting from point A to point B in Cherokee County without using their own vehicles becomes easier for tourists, with more local rental companies and shuttle services, and the KI transit system WOOD, expanding their services.

Tahlequah is booming with herds of foreigners as the days get warmer and the water levels in the rivers and lakes stabilize. Larger crowds also gather in downtown Tahlequah during the summer months, and even more so during the July 4 holiday. Some prefer to leave their car at their hotel and rely on other modes of transportation to get around the county.

Tahlequah Main Street Association director Jamie Hale said she saw people camping, stopping for lunch or dinner and shopping.

Tour Tahlequah encourages people to shop, eat and sightsee in the area. Gena McPhail, director of tourism for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, said there are new shuttle services in the area, such as Tahlequah Transit.

“I took the bus in May and the first ride was Memorial Day weekend,” said owner Rene Milbauer.

She said her sister worked for a hotel in Tahlequah and had received several calls from people asking about shuttle services.

“It’s a short bus I have, and she bought it but never started the business, and this summer I thought I’d try it,” Milbauer said.

She said she was getting more and more calls for shuttle services as the weeks went by. Surprisingly, Milbauer said, more and more people are looking for transportation to Tulsa International Airport, and she’s willing to get a separate vehicle for that purpose.

It’s $20 per person for a round trip, and Milbauer takes cash or a card. For more information, call Tahlequah Transit at 918-822-8704.

Those interested in renting a vehicle can do so at Economy Auto Rental, 324 S. Muskogee Ave. Mitch Meredith is one of the owners, and he said they see an increase in rental customers during the summer.

“Summer is a busy time for people traveling on vacation or just traveling in general,” he said.

Meredith said renters must have liability insurance and if they don’t, they can buy it at the Ron Meredith agency, where Economy Auto Rental is based.

“They either have to carry the offset and collision, or we can buy the offset and collision, but they have to have their own liability policy,” he said.

Renters must also have a valid driver’s license and be at least 21 years old. They can call 918-456-2013 for more information.

KI BOIS Area Transit System partnered with PICK Transportation last year to create a regional public transportation system that uses Uber technology. KATS received an Innovative Mobility Initiative grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In 2021, KATS director Charla Sloan said it was a pilot project and they had a year to get it started. Services began June 3, 2021 and were available from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday; and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rides cost $3.

“We’ve extended it to September 30, but I think we’ll keep going. We can change the hours and probably not stay that late,” Sloan said.

PICK Transportation appears as a service or vehicle option with the Uber app. Passengers will be able to rate drivers and vice versa. Passengers equipped with a smartphone will receive text messages containing key information on upcoming journeys. There will be options for passengers with visual, hearing and developmental disabilities, and drivers will receive visual and audible turn-by-turn instructions.

For more information, call KATS at 918-453-1155.

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