The Salem Area Mass Transit District’s board meets Thursday, May 25, to discuss federal funding to reinstate its shop-and-ride program and review its post-pandemic progress.
The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be in person at the Senator Hearing Room at Courthouse Square, 555 Court St. N.E. It will also be accessible by Zoom, and live streamed on Capital Community Media’s YouTube Channel.
Public comments can be submitted by 5 p.m. Thursday to [email protected].
READ IT: AGENDA
Application for federal funds for accessible transportation
The board will consider applying to a grant from the Federal Transit Administration, which would restore a ride service for seniors and people with disabilities.
Cherriots would apply for up to $376,958 from a grant fund for projects intended to help seniors and people with disabilities get around.
In past years, Cherriots has used the funds to run its Shop and Ride program, including the call center that manages the service.
The district suspended its shopper shuttle service in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic when it saw a significant decline in reservations, according to a staff memo from General Manager Allan Pollock. The service drove seniors and people with disabilities to Walmart and Fred Meyer for $1.25 each way.
If approved, the federal funds would go to restore the service, with a potential September start date, said spokeswoman Patricia Feeny.
Funds would also support the still-active shop and ride program’s dial-a-ride service that picks people up at their home and takes them anywhere in the cities of Salem and Keizer during weekdays.
Fare is $3.20 per person, or 10 rides for $32, according to the Cherriots website.
This year, the application asks for $169,631 for the shop and ride program, and an additional $12,000 for preventative maintenance.
They would also apply for $195,327 to operate the call center that manages the services.
The board will also hear a presentation on the electronic fare system, expected to launch later this year, from project manager Seth Hamlin, according to Feeny.
The electronic fare system, called Umo, allows customers to pay through a smartphone app or contactless smart card.
With e-fare, customers would load their accounts with funds to scan when boarding the bus. This would eliminate paying any fare in cash, though riders would still be able to use cash to load Umo cards at retailers or Cherriots Customer Service.
The board will hear an update on its performance, having seen more people board buses this year than last, bringing ridership levels closer to pre-pandemic numbers.
Weekday service level has reached 93% of its pre-pandemic level, up 3% from last year.
On local routes, the district measured an average of 2,368 more rides a day compared to last year, a 34% increase.
More people boarded buses in every weekday fare category, but the biggest boost in ridership came from the newly launched Youth Zero pass, which allows people 18 and under to ride the bus for free. Youth ridership increased by 80% between September and January compared to last year, according to Cherriots data.
Saturday services levels on local routes continue to meet pre-pandemic levels. Saturday ridership increased 1,292 rides per day, a 35% increase from last year.
The district launched Sunday service in September 2021 and saw ridership increase 47% last year.
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.