June 23, 2021

Wyden, Merkley: $6.3 Million in Federal Funds to Salem Cherriots for Low Emission Vehicles

Green energy investments will benefit mass transit riders in Marion and Polk counties

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced the Salem Area Mass Transit District Project, also known as Cherriots, will receive a $6.3 million federal grant to buy or lease low- or no-emission buses and other transit vehicles.

“Energy-efficient public transit systems that Oregonians need to get easily from Point A to Point B are critical to economic growth and combatting climate change,” Wyden said. “These resources for Salem Cherriots to afford low-emission vehicles will be a game-changer for increased transit services in a fast-growing region, and I’ll keep working to secure similar infrastructure investments statewide.”

“Every single county in Oregon is experiencing some level of drought right now, in part because climate chaos is driving hotter and drier conditions throughout the West. And we know that burning fossil fuels is a primary cause of this crisis, in addition to being a major contributor to incidents of asthma and other pollution-related illnesses that put lives at risk,” said Merkley. “Diesel buses are a threat to Oregonians' health and well-being, and this grant will help get them off our roads.  I will continue to do all that I can to secure similar resources for communities throughout our state, so we can make sure every Oregonian has access to high-quality public transportation that doesn’t fan the flames of climate chaos.”

The Salem Area Mass Transit District Project, known as Cherriots, is a public agency providing bus service six days per week over a 76 square mile area in Salem, Keizer, and the mid-Willamette Valley, as well as regional express service to towns in Marion and Polk counties. The Cherriots fleet consists of 76 buses, including a paratransit service for transit customers with disabilities.

The Low and No Emission (Low-No) Vehicle Grant Program dollars will support Cherriots in  buying or leasing low- or no-emission buses and other transit vehicles that use advanced technologies such as battery electric and fuel-cell power to provide cleaner, more energy efficient transit service in the Salem-area communities.

"These buses represent a monumental step toward enhanced service and modernization of our vehicle fleet," said Ian Davidson, President of the Salem Area Mass Transit District (SAMTD) Board of Directors. "Paired with the battery-electric buses awarded from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) last year, these buses will complete the ‘Electric Bus Corridor’ along our longest route to bolster service reliability and improve access to many of our most frequent destinations while also reducing our carbon footprint and improving our community's air quality."