Frequently Asked Questions


1. Why did the bus drive by without stopping to pick me up?

We know it’s frustrating being passed up, especially when it’s cold or wet outside. If the bus didn’t stop for you, it’s probably because the bus was full or running too late, or the driver couldn’t see you.

When you see a bus labeled “Drop Off Only,” that means it’s not stopping to pick up passengers at all — the bus could be completely full or it could be running late. Either way, another bus should be coming soon.

To make yourself more visible, stand, move, or wave as the bus approaches. Waving your phone or a flashlight can help the driver see you at night.

It’s also possible that the driver was new to the route or filling in, and accidentally missed your stop. If you believe this was the case, please let us know by calling Customer Service at 503-588-2877 so we can try to prevent it from happening again.

2. Are dogs allowed on board the bus?

Pets and companion animals are only allowed on board buses if they are in a secure, enclosed carrier. Service animals are allowed on board without a permit, but your driver may ask to confirm that your animal is a service animal. If you have a concern about an animal on board, ask your driver. You can learn more about service animals on Cherriots buses by visiting our Accessibility page.

​3. Why is my bus late?

We do our best to keep you moving and on schedule, but sometimes your bus may arrive late. Delays are most often caused by the same things that affect other road users:

  • Heavy traffic
  • Accidents
  • Weather/road conditions
  • Special events
  • Police activity
  • Missed signals
  • Construction

Still, we’re always looking for ways to improve our on-time performance. This can include making adjustments to schedules or additional driver training. If you have suggestions for improving our reliability, please let us know!

​You can help keep your bus stay on time by being at your stop with your fare ready five minutes before its scheduled arrival. Once you’re on board, make way so others can get on or off, and exit through the rear door when possible.

​4. Why did the bus leave without me? I was running to the stop!

Bus drivers have a brief window of time to board waiting passengers, close the doors, and make it through a green light. In some instances, opening the door again to let you on would cause your bus to miss a signal — this may seem like a small inconvenience, but these delays add up quickly and can make the bus fall behind schedule.

​5. What hours do Cherriots buses operate?

Most routes departing from the Downtown Transit Center operate from about 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, about 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. However, schedules vary due to the pandemic, so always check online schedules for the latest info.

For more information on routes and schedules, visit the Services, Maps, and Routes page.

​6. Why doesn’t Cherriots provide weekend bus service and later evening service?

We actually do now! In 2009, Cherriots eliminated Saturday bus service and made other service cuts to balance its budget. Thanks to the passage of House Bill 2017, Cherriots has restored services lost to those budget cuts.

In September of 2019, Cherriots added Saturday bus service and later evening service on most local routes. We planned to add Sunday and holiday service as well in May of 2020, but the pandemic postponed that expansion until September 2021. To learn more details about recent service expansions, visit the Service Change page.

HB 2017 provides a dedicated source of state funding to transit districts across Oregon. Revenue for HB 2017 is provided by a payroll tax paid by employees. The legislation could bring $7 million in the first year to support transit in Salem-Keizer, as well as regional service to smaller cities in Marion and Polk counties.

7. Can I ride Cherriots to Portland?

We can get you part of the way there, and our regional partners will help you finish your trip. You have two general options, depending on where you want to travel.

If you want to travel up the west side of the metro area, start by riding Cherriots Regional Route 1X from downtown Salem or Cherriots Regional Route 80X from Keizer Transit Center to Wilsonville Station. There you can catch TriMet’s WES Commuter Rail to the Beaverton Transit CenterTriMet MAX lines and a number of TriMet bus routes serve that transit center and will take you all over the metro area.

If you want to travel up the east side, take Cherriots Regional Routes 10X or 20X to the Woodburn Bi-Mart stop. There you’ll catch Canby Area Transit’s Route 99X to the Oregon City Transit Center. Then you can hop on a TriMet bus to your final destination.

Fares and Passes

1. How do I pay for a pass on the bus?
When boarding the bus simply deposit the correct fare in the fare box for a one-way trip or a Day Pass. For more details, visit our Fares and Passes page

​2. Is exact change required to buy a pass on the bus?
Yes, exact fare is required on buses. Drivers cannot make change.

​3. How much does it cost to ride the bus?
An adult, full-fare price for a one-way ride on Cherriots is $1.60. A day pass costs $3.25. A 30-day pass costs $45. Youth 0-18 years old pay no fare. Fares are higher for other services, such as Cherriots Regional and Cherriots LIFT. For a complete listing of fares, including options to purchase bus fare at a reduced rate, visit the Fares and Passes page.

4. Can I pay with my phone?
Not at this time. We are currently exploring various electronic fare systems and hope to implement one in the near future on all Cherriots buses.


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.


1. What’s the official name? Is it Cherriots, Salem-Keizer Transit, or Salem Area Mass Transit District?
Cherriots, the district’s operating name, is the name used in most circumstances.

In 2016, the district decided to phase out the name Salem-Keizer Transit. Cherriots is in the process of updating its signage and other materials to reflect that change.

Salem Area Mass Transit District is the legal name of the transit district. Its use is limited to formal, legal contexts.

2. How is Cherriots organized?  Who does it answer to?
Cherriots is a public agency that provides bus service over a 76 square mile area in Salem-Keizer and the mid-Willamette Valley. Cherriots has a governor-appointed, seven-member Board of Directors, who serve as unpaid volunteers. Cherriots is a special district. It’s not part of city government or county government. Every three years, the transit district’s financial records are audited by the Federal Transit Administration.

3. How much are homeowners in the Salem-Keizer area paying in property taxes to support Cherriots?
The District’s permanent property tax rate is 0.7609 per $1,000 of tax assessed value. So, the owner of a house in the District with a tax assessed value of $213,600 (the average for Marion County) would pay about $162 per year in property taxes to support Cherriots.

4. What are the sources of Cherriots funding?
Cherriots receives funding from several sources:

  • Local property taxes
  • Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF) authorized by HB 2017
  • State Mass Transit Assistance Account (payroll assessments on state employees within the geographic area of the transit district)
  • Federal government grants
  • Passenger fares
  • And a small percentage from other miscellaneous sources

5. Who owns Courthouse Square?

Cherriots and Marion County jointly-own the Courthouse Square office building, 555 Court Street NE, in Salem. The adjoining Downtown Transit Center at Courthouse Square is owned by Cherriots. Courthouse Square is bounded by Chemeketa Street NE on the north, Court Street NE on the south, Church Street NE on the east and High Street NE on the west.

6. Where are the Cherriots offices?
The Cherriots Customer Service Office is at 220 High St. NE. It’s next to the Downtown Transit Center.

The Cherriots administrative offices are located on the fifth floor of the Courthouse Square building at 555 Court St.NE in Salem.

The Cherriots Operations Headquarters is at 3140 Del Webb Ave., in Salem. The repair and maintenance facility for the Cherriots fleet is also located at the site.

7. Who provides security services at the Downtown Transit Center?
Cherriots works with the Salem Police Department and Allied Universal, a private contractor hired by the transit district.

8. How many employees work at Cherriots?
As of September 2019, Cherriots had 228 employees.

9. Are Cherriots employees represented by a union?
The Cherriots workforce includes union and nonunion members. As of September 2019, 158 of the transit district’s employees are represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757.

10. What’s the salary range for drivers (transit operators)?
Transit operators have a salary range of a little over $41,000 to about $50,000 per year.

11. Do Cherriots employees receive Oregon PERS benefits?
No. The District’s workforce consists of public employees, but they are not part of the Oregon Public Employee Retirement System. Cherriots funds its own retirement plan.

12. How can Cherriots customers make their concerns or comments known to transit district managers?
The Cherriots Customer Service office can be reached at or by calling 503-588-2877.

The Cherriots Board of Directors has a public comment period at its regularly scheduled meetings. The Board meets January through October on the fourth Thursday of the month. No Board meetings are held in November. In December the Board meets on the second Thursday of the month. Regularly scheduled Board meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. at Courthouse Square, Senator Hearing Room, 555 Court St. NE. in Salem. Members of the Board can also be reached by email.  Addresses can be found on the Board of Directors page.

​13. How can job applicants learn about job openings and apply for positions at Cherriots?
Cherriots posts job openings on the Careers page. Job applications are also posted online and can be submitted by email to

​14. Are student internships available?
Cherriots provides student internships on a limited basis. Visit the Careers page for available positions.