It’s time for A Better Cherriots. As the project name suggests, Cherriots is working to provide better bus service in Salem-Keizer and the surrounding areas. With the passage of Oregon House Bill 2017 (HB 2017), Cherriots will be getting more resources in 2019 to provide a major expansion in service and address other longstanding needs.
A Better Cherriots: Service Proposal
Every two years, Cherriots staff are tasked by the Board of Directors to evaluate the current fare structure. Cherriots has not changed its fares since January 2015, but this year’s fare analysis was different than normal due to the passage of Oregon House Bill 2017 last summer. HB 2017 provides Cherriots with new funds to enhance service through the new State Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF). Among other items, the latest draft language of the rules calls for transit agencies to, “fund the implementation of programs to reduce fares for public transportation in communities with a high percentage of Low-Income Households.”
The following goals have been identified for the changes proposed for July 2019:
1. Help families and low-income riders
2. Simplify fare structure
3. Facilitate transfers between local and regional buses
4. Encourage youth to ride
5. Ensure fare structure is equitable
To accomplish these goals, we have developed five potential strategies.
1. Low-Income Fare
We currently offer a reduced rate for youth 18 and younger, seniors 60 and older, those who are disabled, and Medicare card holders. Typically, the cost of a reduced fare is about half of a full fare. However, there is currently no program to offer discounted bus passes to low-income riders who do not meet any of the above requirements.
We recommend offering the reduced rate fare for low-income riders who qualify for other low-income programs. We will develop a list of programs that qualify (e.g. Oregon Health Plan recipients or SNAP beneficiaries). Riders would show proof that they are enrolled in one of those programs at Cherriots Customer Service, and staff would issue the riders a Reduced Fare ID card for the year. This would be valid on all local and regional buses.
2. Standardize Cherriots Regional Fares
Today a one-way fare on most regional routes is $2.25 ($1.50 for reduced). However, the cost of a one-way fare on Route 1X is much higher at $3 ($1.50 for reduced).
We recommend simplifying the fare structure by changing a one-way fare to $2.50 for all regional routes ($1.25 for reduced). This would make it easier for our riders to understand the cost of riding a Cherriots Regional bus.
3. Universal Day and Month Passes
Currently, there is no day pass on Cherriots Regional Route 1X. The other regional routes have a day pass that costs $4.50 ($3 for reduced), but they do not work on Route 1X or on Cherriots Local routes.
We recommend replacing the day pass for Cherriots Regional Routes 10X-50X with a universal day pass at a cost of $5 ($2.50 for reduced). This universal day pass will work on all Cherriots Regional and Local buses and will make transfers much easier.
There is currently a universal month pass for $85 ($42.50 for reduced) that works on all Cherriots Regional and Local routes. There is also a month pass that works only on Cherriots Regional Routes 10X-50X for $60 ($30 for reduced).
We recommend eliminating the $60 month pass that only works on Cherriots Regional Routes 10X-50X and lowering the price of the universal month pass to $75. This simplifies the fare structure and facilitates transfers between all Cherriots Local and Regional routes.
4. Free Youth and Student Passes
Currently, large families have to spend a lot of money to ride on transit together. Children ride for free through age five, but after that they need to pay the reduced/youth fare to ride. The cost of fares is especially burdensome for low-income families. Additionally, it is costly for middle and high school students to ride the bus. The State of Oregon used to fund a program to give free bus passes to these students, but it has been discontinued.
We recommend changing the fare structure so that children would ride free (with a paying passenger) through age 11. Middle and high school students (including home-schooled students) could ride free by showing their student ID in the school year for which the ID is valid or the following summer. Riders aged 12-18 who do not have a middle or high school ID would continue to pay the reduced rate. The summer youth pass would be eliminated.
5. Cherriots LIFT month pass
A one-way full fare on Cherriots Local bus service is $1.60 and a one-way fare on Cherriots LIFT paratransit service is double that at $3.20. Riders on the local bus service can also choose to purchase a 30-day pass for $45, whereas LIFT riders have no monthly equivalent.
We recommend creating a LIFT pass for a calendar month at a rate of $90. This pass would be good for Cherriots LIFT, as well as all Cherriots Local and Cherriots Regional routes. As a complementary service to the local bus service, LIFT should have a similar fare structure to that of the local service.
Cherriots staff asked the public about these potential strategies in May and June of 2018. With that guidance, we will revise the proposal based on input received, and the next steps will be as follows:
- Inclusion in service enhancement plan: July 2018 and beyond
- Implementation: July 1, 2019
During the public engagement period, we hosted a number of events to give people more details about our proposal, give them a chance to ask questions of the staff, and offer their feedback in person. These events were held at the Downtown Transit Center, Keizer Transit Center, and Chemeketa Community College.
Based on the results of the November 2017 needs assessment, staff have developed a service proposal with proposed changes in September 2018 and September 2019. You can read the full proposal, which includes maps of routes running on the weekends, by clicking below:
We reached out to the public in February and March for input on our proposal and received a great response. We held open houses and information events at locations like the Downtown Transit Center, Broadway Coffeehouse, Chemeketa Community College, Center 50+, and many others. Staff walked through the proposal with attendees, answered questions, and received feedback. We'll use that feedback to make adjustments to the proposal. Read the report on our findings by clicking below:
In November 2017, Cherriots staff conducted a needs assessment. In addition to analyzing shifts in population and travel demand, staff conducted a rider and community survey and a survey of Cherriots frontline employees—those who interact directly with riders on a daily basis. This report can be found by clicking below: