1. Why doesn’t Cherriots use smaller buses on low ridership routes?
Cherriots wouldn’t save any taxpayer money. The district’s 35-foot-long and 40-foot-long buses can shift from a low ridership route to a more popular route. Smaller buses lack that flexibility.
If Cherriots decided to use a greater variety of bus sizes, the district would need to add more spare vehicles to accommodate for breakdowns and scheduled maintenance. The fleet size and its cost would grow significantly.
Smaller vehicles are also less rugged than standard-sized city buses, which can last for more than 1 million miles.
Finally, the greatest operating expense is labor. Transit operators get paid the same whether they are driving a small or large bus.
That said, there are some very specific instances when a smaller vehicle might be a a better fit. We are currently planning some experiments with this type of service called microtransit.
2. How often do Cherriots buses arrive on time?
In 2016 and 2017, Cherriots staff tracked the arrival times of routes at the Downtown Transit Center and the Keizer Transit Center throughout the day. Overall, Cherriots buses arrived on schedule 92 percent of the time. The regional service had an overall on-time performance of percent 87 percent. During the afternoon peak of 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Cherriots buses arrived on schedule 86 percent of the time. The Cherriots Regional service arrived on schedule 84 percent of the time.
3. What’s the story on all the empty buses?
Appearances can be misleading. Passengers board and exit buses throughout the routes. A bus that’s nearly empty at one point can be full to near capacity after a couple of stops.
Unless the viewer is actually standing on the bus, it’s often not easy to see passengers on Cherriots. The low-floor design of the buses means passengers sit lower, so only the tops of their heads are visible from the street. Passenger windows on the bus are tinted to keep the bus cooler and for passenger comfort.
4. How does Cherriots decide to add, or reduce, bus service to a neighborhood?
The Cherriots staff bases its decisions on ridership. The district’s priority is serving locations with many potential bus riders, known as trip generators.
The District’s goal: provide frequent bus service within a half mile of high-density areas. Frequent routes are defined as those routes having at least 20 passenger boarding per hour. The standard for lower frequency routes is 15 to 18 passenger boardings per hour.
Road infrastructure has to be taken into consideration. The District focuses on providing bus service on arterial and collector streets. Cherriots avoids residential streets, which aren’t designed for heavy traffic.
The Cherriots Board of Directors, however, make the final decisions on service changes. Neighbors have approached the Board and successfully argued in favor of maintaining service that was scheduled to be discontinued.
More information on how the Planning Department makes recommendations for service changes can be found in the Service Guidelines on the Reports and Publications page.
5. Why doesn’t every bus stop have a bus shelter?
Cherriots doesn’t have the maintenance resources to place a bus shelter at every bus stop. Like decisions on adding bus service, Cherriots places bus shelters at bus stops with the most riders.
A bus stop needs to have a least 20 boardings per day before Cherriots will install a new bus shelter. Locations close to shopping centers and medical facilities are also high priorities for bus shelters.
6. What’s the annual ridership for Cherriots?
In the Fiscal Year 2017, Cherriots fixed-route buses provided more than 2.8 million rides in the Salem-Keizer area. The combined ridership of fixed-route buses in Salem-Keizer, regional services, paratransit service and other bus services amounted to about 3.1 million.
7. Does Cherriots have any demographic information on bus riders?
Cherriots conducted a ridership survey in 2016 and 2017 for marketing purposes. Among the survey’s findings:
- No one age range of riders dominates another, but about half of riders are ages 34 and under.
- About 35 percent of riders are high school or college students.
- More than 25 percent of riders live in households where a language other than English is the primary spoken language.
- Fifty-eight percent of riders don’t have access to a car, either as a driver or passenger. In comparison, about 39 percent of riders using TriMet, the mass transit agency for the Portland metropolitan area, don’t have access to a car.
- Sixty-six percent of Cherriots riders have smartphones.
More information on the demographics of our community and riders can be found in our yearly Needs Assessments found on the Reports and Publications page.
8. What percentage of a bus ride’s cost is covered by bus fare?
For Cherriots, about 12 to 13 percent of the cost of a ride is covered by bus fare. The remainder of the cost is subsidized by local property taxes, state and federal funds. The transit industry standard, known as farebox recovery, is about 15 to 20 percent.
A high number of Cherriots customers qualify for reduced fares because of age or disability, so it’s difficult for Cherriots to increase its farebox recovery into the 15 percent to 20 percent range.
9. Why can’t Cherriots raise the price of bus fare and use the money to add more services?
If Cherriots raised fare prices significantly, fewer people would choose to take the bus and fare revenue would decline.
10. How many vehicles are in the Cherriots fixed-route fleet?
The Cherriots fleet consists of 64 buses, which are 35 feet and 40 feet long. Thirty-four of the buses are powered by compressed natural gas. The remainder of the Cherriots fixed-route fleet uses biodiesel for fuel.
11. How many seats are there on a Cherriots bus?
A 40-foot-long Cherriots bus can seat 38 passengers with standing room for about 20 more.
12. How much does a Cherriots, fixed-route bus cost?
The price range is about $475,000 to $525,000.
13. About how long can a bus stay in service before it needs to be replaced?
Cherriots Local buses can stay in service for approximately 12 to 15 years before they need to be replaced.
14. What is the average age of the fleet?
As of fall 2017, the average age of buses in the fleet was 11 years.
15. What are the oldest vehicles in the fleet?
The oldest vehicles in the fleet have been carrying passengers since 2002.
16. What has Cherriots done to ensure that its fleet operates in a sustainable manner?
Cherriots always seeks the best sustainable practices. Cherriots fleet uses recapped tires, which require fewer virgin materials than new tires. All the biodiesel powered buses use re-refined engine oil. The bus wash uses recycled water and buses are only washed twice a week during the summer. And the maintenance facility has been Earthwise certified.
17. How many Cherriots LIFT vehicles are in the fleet?
Cherriots LIFT provides paratransit service for passengers who can’t independently use Cherriots Local regular bus service. Cherriots LIFT has 43 buses; all of the vehicles are powered by gasoline.
18. How many buses are in the Cherriots Regional fleet?
Cherriots Regional provides services to towns in Marion and Polk counties. Cherriots Regional has 12 buses. Most of the Cherriots Regional buses are powered by diesel. Four of the Cherriots Regional buses are gasoline powered and one is a hybrid electric diesel vehicle.