Removing routes 38, 39 cuts off riders who need them, impacting vulnerable students, faculty, staff
As a regular TriMet rider who relies on public transportation, I was horrified to learn that TriMet’s new draft plan, released on Sept. 28, includes the removal of bus lines 38 and 39.
The 38 Boones Ferry line runs from Tualatin Park & Ride to the downtown Portland area, with a stop on Palatine Hill Road near the Lewis & Clark Law School. The 39 Lewis & Clark line runs directly to campus and provides access to the Burlingame and Hillsdale neighborhoods with connections to many other bus lines. These lines are the only two currently servicing the area around LC, with no planned changes to continue bus service in the vicinity.
TriMet has noble intentions for their plans, which involve serious restructuring of transit lines to much of the Portland metro area. Their goal is to expand public transit options to lower-income areas. They are planning to fund this by cutting service to wealthier areas. Unfortunately, LC is situated in a high-income area that TriMet has decided no longer needs service due to low ridership.
The main issue is that although much of the surrounding area is high-income, many of the people who attend LC and rely on the bus system are not. I am an off-campus student without a car who needs the bus system in order to reliably attend my classes and I am far from the only LC student who needs these two lines. Students who live on campus may also rely on the bus transportation system to access off-campus jobs, shopping, healthcare and leisure activities. Additionally, staff and faculty members alike frequently use public transportation for its convenience and cost-effectiveness. For community members without cars like myself, and even those with cars who want to save money on gas, losing the 38 and the 39 will be devastating.
The loss of these lines will be hardest on disabled and low-income students and staff, who are often the ones most reliant on public transportation. We cannot assume that everyone has the ability, financially and otherwise, to have a car. There also cannot be an assumption that with the loss of the bus lines, we will be able to switch to expensive rideshare apps or expect to find the perfect reliable carpool situation.
The main communication from LC regarding TriMet prior to this announcement was an encouragement for drivers to switch to public transportation to alleviate the problem of overflow parking on campus. With the loss of the bus lines, the community can only expect the parking issue to get worse. A potential new influx of vehicles could be disastrous for the already precarious situation in LC’s parking lots.
LC leadership, including Vice President for Student Life Evette Castillo Clark and Associated Student Body President Madeleine MacWilliamson ’24, have expressed concern about the loss of the lines and are working on solutions. However, the response to this issue must be campus-wide and persuasive. Even if we are able to save the 38 and 39, we must maintain a positive relationship with TriMet. TriMet’s main line of reasoning for discontinuing these lines is low ridership. If more students knew about the transportation options open to them, perhaps we could avoid issues like this in the future.
The LC community and administration must rally around saving these bus lines for our community, now and for years to come. If these changes are enacted, students, staff and faculty will suffer reduced access to our already remote and relatively inaccessible campus. Losing these transportation options will limit mobility to and from campus indefinitely unless we take action now. If you are interested in giving feedback to TriMet about these changes, please consider taking their survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FT_English.