City News

YOUR GOVERNMENT: Cherriots board discusses plans for transit expansions, improved technology

The Cherriots board of directors will meet Thursday, Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. to review a new long range transit plan and vote on a contract to develop software for planning paratransit trips.


Cherriots staff will present the agency’s 2043 long range transit plan, with goals that include increasing the transit service’s frequency, accessibility and sustainability.

The project had two public engagement phases in the winter of 2021 and summer of 2022, where Cherriots surveyed community members about what changes would improve service. They identified an increase in frequency, better affordability and technology access as top priorities. 

The plan includes expanding route coverage and service hours in Salem and Keizer, and connections to surrounding communities like Albany.

The plan also includes improvements to bus stops, such as new signage and improved accessibility for people with disabilities. The plan includes larger bus stops, called superstops, at popular sites with more sheltered space and room for additional buses.

Cherriots hopes to start an e-fare program allowing for online payment, and expand reduced fare options.

The service has also committed to replacing its fleet with zero-emissions vehicles by 2040. The plan includes expanding the capacity for electric buses with chargers at the transit depot and on routes.

Projects will be funded by various local, state and federal programs.

Board members will give feedback on the draft plan and expect to vote on the final plan at their Dec. 15 meeting, according to the agenda.

On Thursday, the board will also vote on a $1.6 million contract with VIA Mobility, LLC to develop a tool for scheduling and dispatching paratransit trips.

The software would replace Cherriots use of Routematch, which has become unreliable according to the agenda. The new software would be fully automated, including notifying passengers about upcoming trips and optimizing routes. 

Board members at Thursday’s meeting will also vote on adopting the proposed budget calendar, which would either spread budget committee meetings out to once per week in May 2023, or consolidate the meetings to the first week of May.

To participate: The meeting will be in-person in the Senator Hearing Room on the ground floor of Courthouse Square at 555 Court Street N.E., and also live streamed by Capital Community Media online and on channel 21 for Comcast users.

Public comment will be accepted during the meeting, in person or by Zoom. Written testimony will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Nov. 17.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.