OEC supports ballot measure to fund “Cherriots”
The public transportation system serving Salem-Keizer residents has a great name – “Cherriots” – conjuring up images of beautiful horse-drawn carriages, but Cherriots has been struggling for years to meet the community’s needs. In fact, if you want to take the bus on the weekend or after 9:00 PM, tough luck!
Part of the problem is the fact that Oregon lags far behind other states in supporting the daily operations of its local transit systems. From Basin Transit Service in Klamath Falls to TriMet in the Portland metro area, bus drivers and rail operators are getting people the places they need to go and creating broader community benefits, like less congestion and cleaner air. But our state contributes only 3% of operations funding, compared with state contribution of over 24% nationally.
As OEC continues to push the state to step up to the plate, we are supporting local funding proposals, including the “Yes for Cherriots” Ballot Measure 24-388, which will be on the November 3 ballot. This measure will restore evening and weekend service, as well as youth passes for middle and high school students.
We urge Salem-Keizer residents to vote Yes because public transportation is key for:
- Economic success: High-quality transit eases highway congestion. Transit-intensive areas have consistently higher job growth, more economic development and increased property values. For businesses that want to attract and retain talented workers, a recent study by real estate advisors Cushman and Wakefield and Smart Growth America found that in this day and age being located in a vibrant neighborhood with good transit is a crucial selling point.
- Equity: Transit serves Oregonians who can’t afford to drive and Oregonians who because of age or disability are unable to drive. Providing Oregonians with better transportation options helps reduce household costs: American Public Transportation Association estimates cost savings of more than $770 a month for the average person who takes transit instead of driving.
- A healthy environment: For most of us, exhaust from our cars is our biggest personal contribution to climate change. Motor vehicle exhaust also makes air unhealthy to breathe. If we’re going to address the climate crisis and clean up our air, we need more eco-friendly transportation choices.
- Healthy people and communities: Besides the clean air benefit that transit brings, research shows that people who take transit get more exercise than people who drive and that taking transit is far less stressful.
For these reasons and more, OEC is rooting for Cherriots this November and will continue to push for a significant, dedicated source of funding for transit statewide.