City News

UPDATE: Cherriots adds new route connecting south Salem to Amazon center

Some workers will see an hour cut both ways from their daily commute with a new bus route announced at the Salem Area Mass Transit District’s March 28 meeting.

Starting May 5, the new Route 22, called the Kuebler Link, will directly connect south Salem residents with the Amazon Fulfillment Center at 4775 Depot Ct. S.E. The trip currently requires several bus transfers taking commuters out of the way of their destination.

The bus will run every 20 minutes during peak hours and every 40 minutes on off-peak hours, which are after 9 p.m. on weekdays, after 7 p.m. on Saturdays and all day Sunday. 

The route starts at the intersection of Southeast Commercial Street and Southeast Baxter Road. Commuters riding the route from its start can reach the Amazon facility in about 20 minutes, versus the current hour and 15 minute trip that routes people downtown to change buses.

Cherriots began planning the new route in 2019, and was completed in time to include it in the agency’s application for the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund in January 2023, said spokeswoman Patricia Feeny. The route was planned for September 2023, but she said it was delayed by a slow delivery of the new buses.

The fund will cover the additional $2.3 million to operate the route, including new buses, operators and support staff, according to Feeny. The route will use up to four new smaller, 25-foot buses so the service can reach Southeast Trelstad Avenue, according to the update from Chris French, service planning manager. Typical buses are around 40 feet.

During the meeting, board members shared their excitement for the new route. Member Ian Davidson said that when he first joined the board, one of the first public commenters he heard was an Amazon worker who said the challenge forced him to buy a car.

“I am thrilled that we’re able to fill this gap. I wish we could have filled it earlier,” Davidson said during the meeting. 

Route 22 will also add local service stops where none previously existed at Costco on Southeast Boone Road and the Oregon State Police headquarters.

The route will have connections with routes 6, 8, 11 and 21. 

Cherriots last established new routes in 2018, when the district rerouted Route 26 Glen Creek / Orchard Heights and Route 27 Glen Creek / Eola to replace the discontinued West Salem Connector Service.

Route 22 which will start running on May 5 (Courtesy/ Cherriots)

The board on March 28 unanimously approved all other action items on the agenda, including internet and software contracts and an update to their plan for serving older, disabled and low-income riders. Those items are detailed below in the original story.


The Salem Area Mass Transit District board, known as Cherriots, will hear about the results of state legislature lobbying efforts and consider contracts for internet and software upgrades.

The board meets Thursday, March 28. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. and will be in person at the Senator Hearing Room at Courthouse Square, 555 Court St. N.E. and live streamed by Capital Community Media.

The public is invited to comment in person during the meeting, over Zoom, or in writing submitted via email or mail. Comments are limited to three minutes and can be about anything relating to the board.

Written public comments are accepted until 5 p.m. Thursday to [email protected], or by mail to Attn: Cherriots Board, 555 Court St. N.E., Suite 5230, Salem, OR 97301.

READ IT: Agenda

Update on state bills

The board will hear a report about their lobbying team’s efforts during the 2024 legislative session, which recently ended and included funding for several Salem projects.

Most of Cherriots’ priority bills did not pass, according to the presentation by CFM Advocates.

A bill Cherriots was monitoring, SB 1553, passed to increase the penalties for using drugs on buses. It categorizes the drug use as Interfering with Public Transportation, a Class A misdemeanor, and includes access to state funded treatment. Cherriots did not take a position on the bill.

“While lawmakers were tackling this issue generally in changes to implementing (Measure 110), legislative leadership believed that transit was experiencing unique challenges with drug use and required a separate fix,” the report said. 

A payment in lieu of taxes bill, HB 4072, did not pass during the session and would have required the state to pay Salem in lieu of taxes for properties and use of emergency services.

A long-hoped for study into building a commuter rail line connecting Salem, Wilsonville, Beaverton and Portland made it to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, but was not funded. Cherriots plans to look at funding opportunities in the state’s 2025 transportation package.

A bill establishing a task force to study laws and uses for electric bikes, scooters and skateboards also did not make it out of Ways and Means.

Internet at Cherriots facilities

The board will consider whether to approve a $303,000, five-year contract with Comcast Business for internet connections at its Courthouse Square, Del Webb and Keizer Transit Center facilities. The money would come from this year’s general fund budget.

Cherriots has contracted with Comcast since 2016, but needs to increase internet bandwidth in the new agreement to meet demand, said Ross Aguilar, IT Manager and Deputy General Manager David Trimble in a staff report.

Software contract

The board will consider a three year $162,500 contract with Qcera for software to manage family medical leave. The district sought contracts in October, and the cost is included in the general fund’s budget.

Without it, human resources staff will continue to manually process leave using spreadsheets, data tables and calendar systems, said Jaél Rose, chief human resources officer in a staff memo.

Updates to plan for serving older, disabled and low-income riders

Board members will consider accepting updates to the agency’s coordinated plan aiming to meet the transportation needs of older adults, people with disabilities and people with low incomes. The plan guides coordination with local providers and investment priorities.

The current plan was adopted in 2016, with a minor update in 2019. It must be updated every five years to meet federal funding requirements.

The update, which began in February 2023, included a demographic and market analysis, research into local transit and human services providers and public outreach through a survey and five in-person workshops.

From that, the listed priorities include better connecting rural locations with Salem, Keizer and Portland, updating vehicles and providing more on-demand services like those that take people from homes to medical appointments.

CORRECTION: The Cherriots board did not take a position in support of Senate Bill 1553, but had listed it as a priority due to monitoring its outcome. Salem Reporter apologizes for the error.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-575-1251

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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.