With the new Sellwood bridge now open to buses, the Lewis & Clark community expressed interest in creating a commuter shuttle from campus to Sellwood. Prior to Spring 2009, there was a Sellwood shuttle—buses were banned from the bridge during the 2009 Sellwood bridge replacement project.
On Feb. 1, cabinet members from the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) met with officials from Transportation and Parking to talk about the possibility of expanding the Pioneer Express (Pio) to Southeast Portland. Senators from ASLC proposed that instead of having a park-and-ride shuttle in Hillsdale, the money for that route could be better spent on a shuttle to Sellwood.
“A lot of Lewis & Clark students at this point know that Southeast is a growing new neighborhood and a lot of students like to go to Sellwood on the weekends or some commute from Sellwood,” Adam Fractor ’17, ASLC President said. “So we know that there’s interests in Southeast. The past two ASLC Presidents have talked about trying to bring a shuttle to Southeast and expanding the transportation options for campus, but the talks haven’t really gone that far, especially with what happened last year there were more pressing issues on campus. So we’re readdressing this because parking is a big problem on campus.”
There are 1,300 parking spaces on campus, making it difficult for commuters to find parking spots. The park-and-ride shuttle was created by Transportation and Parking as a solution to the parking problem; however, the park-and-ride lot in Hillsdale has been unsuccessful with just 10 out of the 100 spots being used by faculty and staff.
Ian Gadberry, Events Preparation and Transportation Coordinator and a park-and-ride shuttle user himself, is disappointed with the lack of interest in the park-and-ride shuttle.
“It saves money and I can read on it on my way to work,” Gadberry said. “It’s been very underwhelming and we don’t know why. We think it’s a great deal but the interest is just not there. It’s sad. We thought it was going to be a big success. We thought we would have to turn people away.”
In response to ASLC’s proposal, Transportation and Parking is willing to start a discussion with the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee (TPAC)—a committee including faculty, staff and students from the three schools. Currently, TPAC doesn’t have any plans in the works for a Sellwood shuttle. However, parking and transportation issues are going to be discussed during upcoming meetings this week, Feb. 20-27. If students feel strongly about these issues they are welcomed to participate in TPAC meetings.
“We were discussing options that were thrown out there with ASLC,” Marilyn Sbardellati, LC Parking and Transportation Program Manager said. “One of them was having a universal pass where instead of having the Pio Express all day we would pay a fee to Trimet. Everyone would have a bus pass for unlimited rides on the bus and then we would just augment the 39 with the Fred Meyer. The likelihood of that happening anytime soon is probably slim. In fact, I’m not even sure if it’ll come up in this next meeting, but we wanted to let the students know that that option has been thrown out there as something viable.”
There is concern over the PSU stop downtown. Since the Pio schedule sometimes conflicts with Trimet, the Pio has been pushed back from Salmon Street to Shattuck Hall on Broadway Street. There are now concerns that the Pio could also be removed from PSU as well. The Trimet annual pass would guarantee students a way to still get downtown if the Pio can no longer take students there. The Pio would connect to the 12, a Trimet bus on Barbur that runs downtown.
“The important fact here is that students have the ability—for the price of a large latte—at Maggie’s to be able to use transit anywhere on any type of system in the Portland area,” Fractor said. “So that’s streetcar, light ride, the tram if they have an internship at OHSU and bus. That’s important to me because while it’s cool to get from the Southeast to provide that service over the bridge, what’s really important is being able to take more advantage of Trimet because the current mode is not sustainable in that we can’t mimic the bus system. At the end of the day we are a college and we can’t replace Trimet.”