Snow in the forecast? Cherriots is ready.Dec 27, 2017
When the snow flies and roads turn icy, Cherriots has a Winter Operations Plan to help bus passengers reach their destinations.
Cherriots goes on alert when the weather forecast indicates a 50 percent chance of snow. Before the first snowflake hits the ground, Cherriots activates an emergency operations center.
Cherriots staff, including maintenance, operations, customer service and security personnel, assemble before dawn at the Cherriots facility on Del Webb Ave. NE. They may be in for a long day: supervisors may need to work 18-hours straight.
During snow and ice storms, Cherriots and Cherriots Regional buses may be unable to serve some stops. Slick roads and hilly terrain often cause problems for Routes 6, 8, 17, 18, 22, 20X and 30X.
At about 2:30 a.m., transit supervisors and the morning dispatcher will drive specific areas and check road conditions. By 4 a.m., Cherriots staff at the emergency operations center will begin making decisions about route changes.
Next, Cherriots will issue information about delays and temporary bus stop closures on Cherriots.org, as well as on Cherriots Facebook page and Twitter account. Callers to the Cherriots customer service office will hear a recorded message.
By 6 a.m., bus riders should have the information they need for their morning commute. Throughout an extreme weather event, Cherriots will provide updates for transit users.
Hot coffee, food and cots help sustain Cherriots employees working long hours at the emergency operations center. Cherriots also has “location captains” at the Downtown Transit Center, the Keizer Transit Center and the West Salem Transit Center to monitor the situation and assist with customers service.
In the mid-Willamette Valley, bus ridership tends to decline on snow days. Meanwhile, phone calls to the Cherriots customer service office double.
Hilly areas in South Salem and West Salem are the primary trouble spots. Some Cherriots buses may need tire chains, but it’s rare for Cherriots to install tire chains on its entire fleet.
Typically, Cherriots activates its emergency operations center and prepares for a snowstorm about once a year. In 2016, however, Cherriots used its winter storm plan on three occasions.
Cherriots strives to provide service, even when its 40-foot-long and 35-foot-long buses can’t reach its customers. In a 2016 snowstorm, Cherriots used a training van and supervisor vehicles to reach customers on a few portions of Routes 8 and 18.