TriMet acts quickly to fix back-to-school bus crowding

Posted by on September 17th, 2021 at 12:35 pm

The 51-Council Crest line now has an additional bus during peak runs.
(Photo: Lisa Caballero/BikePortland)

TriMet responded promptly to last week’s back-to-school overcrowding on a few city bus lines. Last Thursday, BikePortland reported on standing room only conditions and rider pass-ups on the 51 line to Portland heights, which particularly affected Lincoln High School students.

Early this week, TriMet added additional buses to the 51-line peak runs, and this appears to have solved the problems.

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Tom Mills, Director of TriMet Planning and Policy, told BikePortland that TriMet also added buses to the 1-Vermont, 10-Harold, and 26-Thurman lines. They took away service from from Line 70-12th Ave because they didn’t see the extra crowding that they had expected (probably because Benson HS is now at the Marshall campus).

Mills pointed out that although “these change have been put in place, they won’t show up in the online schedule until next week because it takes a little while for all the systems to be updated.” He also noted that “every year the number of additional school trips has to be tweaked due to fluctuating demand and changing bell times among the schools. It is normal for it to take 1-2 weeks to smooth out.”

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Steve HashLisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)EmilyKurtrick Recent comment authors
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al m
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al m

And if it Hadn’t been for you they never woulda got that service either

squareman
Subscriber

It’s been such a cluster within PPS too.

My senior is one of the kids from Benson going to Marshall out near SE 91st and south of Powell. We are literally in the “red” zone that qualified for school bussing (yellow school busses, not TriMet busses), but were never assigned a stop). There’s a bus pickup almost exactly a mile away from our house (the maximum walk for anyone being served by a yellow school bus) so that should be his stop – once we can get clearance for them to get on it (which can take weeks apparently). Meanwhile, my email and SMS inbox are filled every day with alerts about bus driver staff shortages and late or missing busses.

So, for now, we’ve been driving the kid to school in the morning and they take TriMet home (which takes 40-60 minutes depending on transfer timing). Taking TriMet all the way to Marshall in the morning is a no go because it requires at least one transfer, and if the busses are out of sync (or too full), it’s the student’s fault for being late to school (whereas not so with the school busses). My kid used to walk, bus, or bike to Benson for the first three years (which is right at 1.5 miles from our house). But to get to Marshall, it’s about an 8 mile bike ride across several high-conflict traffic areas and biking into a region where the campus is into some of the worst, most aggressive surface streets in Portland. So biking is right out too – I wouldn’t wish that level of risk exposure on my kid or anyone’s.

Doug Allen
Subscriber
Doug Allen

Depending on where you live, you might consider the MAX Green Line, which runs directly between the Lloyd Center station near Benson, to the Powell Blvd. station near Marshall, running time 18 minutes. Of course you have to add walking and waiting time, but it might be worth looking into.

joan
Subscriber

How about biking to the max? I think Trimet is great for high school kids. I’ve seen that my kids are learning life skills when they use the bus and max to get to school.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Make sure you lock it up like Fort Knox if you’re going to leave a bike at Lloyd Center MAX all day long.

squareman
Subscriber

Or at school. My son sent me a pic of a cable lock cut in several places from the rack at school. He’s from a family that knows better than to rely on that crap.

soren
Guest
soren

Cycling during this pandemic era is an entirely different beast from pre-pandemic times. IMO, the level of sheer malevolence towards other road users is greater than I have seen in my 40+ years of daily transportation cycling (even greater than the early 80s recession era, which was very bad).

Steve Hash
Guest
Steve Hash

Interesting how these same problems have plagued the 75 serving Roosevelt HS for years but seemed to get no attention, but when Lincoln HS students are inconvenienced TriMet is all over it. Hmmm, I wonder why.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The squeaky wheel gets the grease. There may be more going on, but I suspect that is the main factor here. “Activist parents”, if you will.

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

The 75 runs every 15 minutes (or less) all day, Lincoln students living in the Skyline area have zero transportation being provided for them, Hmmm, I wonder why?

Emily Wever
Guest
Emily Wever

Has anyone ever looked at the 75 or 4 to Roosevelt at the beginning and end of the day? Its always been standing room only. But by all means, let’s get more buses for Lincoln kids.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

Both of my kids have gone to Roosevelt and we’ve struggled with spotty, overcrowded bus service for years… So I totally understand some folks on this thread being upset about hearing about Lincoln’s bus.

But come on. This is BikePortland. The fact that these two articles exist isn’t some nefarious plot to favor one part of town over another. It is solely because we are lucky to have the services of Lisa Caballero and this bus line just happens to be something she knows about because it’s her local bus. I would absolutely love to hire a north Portland correspondent so we can have the same type of coverage for issues like the 4 and 75 at Roosevelt!

If anyone knows a smart and ready journalist who cares about transportation issues and lives in NoPo please let me know.

Emily Wever
Guest
Emily Wever

I appreciate that by being a squeaky wheel that kids in a richer part of town got better bus service. So all of the Roosevelt parents just need to start emailing Tom Mills. Fine. On it – sorry, not much of writer, myself. But this makes me angry.

rick
Guest
rick

Has north Portland lost a trail or staircase in recent years? Lincoln kids did with the staircase that once connected Vista Ave to Mill Street Terrace around 2017.

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

The 4 runs every 10 minutes, the 75 runs every 14, all day long.
Here is the entire schedule for the 51 going up the hill:

7:29am 51-Vista to Council Crest and Dosch Rd
8:43am 51-Vista to Council Crest and Dosch Rd
2:43pm 51-Vista to Council Crest and Dosch Rd
3:51pm 51-Vista to Dosch Rd
3:56pm 51-Vista to Council Crest and Dosch Rd
5:17pm 51-Vista to Council Crest and Dosch Rd 6:31pm
51-Vista to Council Crest and Dosch Rd

If your kid is waiting longer than the kid who misses one of those buses then you can complain.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Looks like both the 4 and the 75 are 15 minutes or better, with notable added trips around school start/stop times:

https://trimet.org/schedules/w/t1004_0.htm
https://trimet.org/schedules/w/t1075_0.htm

Standing room only isn’t necessarily a problem. I remember doing this most days on the 1 back when I went to Wilson HS. The bus would be slammed at the school, but would empty out pretty quickly as kids got off after a few stops. I’ve also been on MAX multiple times when Benson would let out and crush load the trains. High schools let out so many kids at once, that it can easily overwhelm even frequent service lines.

Of course, Trimet could deadhead a bus to each High School, timed to arrive exactly when school gets out, but I don’t think that’s the most efficient use of our scarce transit funds.

Steve Hash
Guest
Steve Hash

Going to try and circle this back to bicycling. I am wondering if potential bike theft has been a “roadblock” for anybody else’s kids riding their bikes to school. If PPS could funnel some of the money earmarked for bus drivers to staffing bike corrals at schools, would that help with transportation challenges?

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Only if we are talking about the beautiful bike parking facilities at Roosevelt, man that covered area is nice, you guys are so lucky to have been first to have your building redone even though it was no where near the worst facility in the district. I certainly supported that even though it meant my own children would be in a dangerous building with asbestos, mold and water falling from the ceiling.

Did you know that the student teacher ratio at Roosevelt is 14:1 and the ratio at Lincoln is 20:1?

Before we just move on maybe you should do some research before you just start casting aspersions as to who is getting what.

Emily
Guest
Emily

There is more to unpack in your ratio numbers than simple ratios… don’t be disingenuous. Comparing the historic disinvestment in N/NE Portland by PPS… I think Jeff should have been the first HS remodeled.
And yes, there are more busses my kid can take and all of them are full to bursting when they get to school. I would argue that *many* more children take the bus to Roosevelt than to Lincoln.
Perhaps we should advocate for everyone to be able to get to class on time if they take the bus but also don’t want to get to school 45 minutes early. Standing optional.

Steve Hash
Guest
Steve Hash

Seems like some boundary changes might be needed for PPS high schools.