By Eva Love
Students living off campus in Southeast Portland often talk about how difficult it can be to find transportation to and from Lewis & Clark. Those without cars often resort to biking and carpooling; however, depending on weather and schedules, these options are not always reliable. As a student living in a house on Terwilliger, the Pioneer Express (Pio) stops at Riverdale and Market of Choice are incredibly convenient on rainy days or when my bike has a flat tire. While some students may wish the Pio ran through Sellwood, what would such a plan involve and where could this funding come from? At this point in time, it seems like LC’s dwindling budget would be better spent elsewhere.
According to Marilyn Sbardellati, Transportation and Parking Program Manager, there are simply not enough funds to support an additional route or bus.
“Financing the Pio costs roughly $58 dollars an hour, which is funded by parking fees and citation revenue, Sbardellati said. “One reason we do not have another route is because our budget is limited.”
“I think it would be really expensive to get the Pio to stop in Sellwood,” John Loudon ’17, a former student employee for Transportation and Parking, said. “It doesn’t seem like it’s that much of a problem. Most people just figure out their own transportation if they live in Southeast. I think it’s their responsibility if they choose to live across the bridge anyway. It’s definitely easier if you have a car though.”
More students seem to be interested in living off campus to save money. Sellwood is definitely an appealing neighborhood to live in for a lot of students, especially considering the affordable housing options in that area.
“It’s more of a community than what’s around LC,” Marlene Guzman ’19 said. “People don’t really hang out around (LC).”
The Pio stop downtown enables students to access several neighborhoods, like the Pearl and Alphabet Districts. It also stops right next to the Saturday farmer’s market at Portland State University, a popular destination for many students on the weekends. In this regard, having the Pio travel downtown is definitely better than if it were to go to Southeast, especially since most students live on campus or around school.
If LC had the funds to support an additional bus or route, that would be ideal and worthwhile for students. It would give students greater access to the Portland area and enable them to get to Southeast Portland more easily. However, as Loudon pointed out, changing the Pio route or adding a new one would be costly. With the current budget crisis that LC is dealing with, keeping the current Pio route is definitely the best option. While some students may want to get to Sellwood more easily, carpooling, biking and public transportation are still viable options even if they are not quite as convenient. At this moment in time, LC has bigger things to worry about than altering the route of the Pio, like debt, renovations, financial aid and professor salaries. While rumors seem to go around every year that the Pio is changing routes, Transportation and Parking confirmed that they currently have no plans to alter it, which is for the best. Students who want easier access to Southeast Portland should look into carpooling or borrow a friend’s bike. Financing a new Pio route or investing in a second bus not only seems like a waste of time and resources but an unrealistic expectation altogether, at least for now.