This project is a planning study of public transit services for the I-5 corridor between Salem and Albany. This corridor currently does not have public transportation service (with the exception of Amtrak and the POINT bus service).
Historically, regional transit service funding has flowed from the state to counties, and the Marion/Linn county lines have been barriers to providing service across those lines. However, with the introduction of a new statewide transportation improvement fund in 2018, fueled by an employee payroll tax, these false-barriers are being erased and transit service is being studied on a larger region-wide basis instead of county by county. An affordable connection to these major urban areas is the focus of this study, but connections to communities in between will also be considered based on public outreach and feedback.
Background of the statewide transit network
Regional transit service currently provides access from Salem to rural Marion and Polk counties, as well as Wilsonville, McMinnville, the Oregon coast, and Portland, providing important mobility options for seniors, people with disabilities, low-income people, and the general public.
The statewide transit network works to ensure communities are connected via public transportation. Riders can access other transportation services via regional public transit service such as Woodburn Transit, the Silverton Silver Trolley, Canby Area Transit, Wilsonville SMART Transit, and Yamhill County Transit. However, there are currently no affordable connections from Salem to Albany that include the communities of Jefferson and Millersburg.
The I-5 corridor is the mainstay of population, commerce, education, and industry in the Willamette Valley. An affordable transit option is needed to boost non-single occupant vehicle travel.
Many people who live in Albany and work in Salem do not have a reliable and affordable transit option similar to Route 1X, which is a commuter express bus operated in partnership between SMART and Cherriots to provide public transit between Wilsonville and Salem. A new link would also set the stage for potential new links between Linn, Benton, and Lane County cities to the south of Albany. Currently, the only options are Amtrak or the Cascades POINT bus, which are four to six times as expensive as the current Cherriots Regional fare.
Connecting downtown Salem with downtown Albany would also create a link between other regional providers. For example, the Tillamook County Transportation District operates the Coastal Connector transit service between Lincoln City and Salem. Currently, people trying to get from Albany to Lincoln City have to go through Corvallis and Newport, but the connection via Salem would be much shorter. This is also true for all points north of Salem including McMinnville, Newberg, and the greater Portland Metro area.
Existing Conditions and Choices memo
We've created this "Existing Conditions and Choices" memo as a result of the initial feedback we received at our October open house. Click below for a deep dive on this project:
We are currently on Step 5 of the first phase of this project, with the final report due out this summer.