Overcrowding on 72 is inconvenient for students


The 72 Bus approaches the bus stop across from McDaniel. Students ride this line to and from school every day. The city may add an additional lane dedicated for buses.

If you pass by McDaniel at the end of the school day, you’ll see crowds of students waiting for the city bus. As cars zip down 82nd Ave., a blue TriMet bus pulls up to the curb and the mass of students eagerly push through its doors. The bus pulls away, a few unlucky students left behind; the vehicle too packed to accommodate them.

Instead of supplying classic yellow school buses to its high school students, PPS offers the 13,125 high schoolers in its district free bus passes during the school year. This allows several benefits: the school district avoiding having to pay for programs such as First Student, less clogging on streets with regular school buses, and kids have the freedom to use their passes outside of school. 

The 72 is the primary bus line students take here. It services from Swan Island to Clackamas Town Center. During the busy hours directly before and after school, buses are nowhere near large enough to comfortably contain the sweeping number of students vying for a spot. On the busiest buses, people are pressed shoulder to shoulder and it’s not uncommon for some students to get passed by.

“It’s usually so packed on the bus,” junior Ciara Fragoso stated. “Sometimes the bus goes on right past the stop, sometimes I wait from six to twenty minutes.” 

Buses fill up quickly and sometimes students have to wait up to an hour after school to get a spot. According to sophomore MinMin Dippold, it’s often crowded and uncomfortable on the bus.

Fragoso agrees with Dippold that the teeming bus stops can create a substantial environment. When the bus pulls up, there’s a rush of bodies as everyone tries to get on. 

Recalling her experiences trying to board the bus, Fragoso said, “I’m almost falling over every single time.” 

Frequently, one bus isn’t enough to take all the students waiting after school in one go. To achieve a spot on the bus after school, students sometimes walk down 82nd to earlier stops to beat the crowds. 

Sophomore Seth Petrarca said that buses passing by the bus stop because they’re full “happen[s] a lot.” Though it’s true that the next bus should arrive within the next 20 minutes, it’s not uncommon for that one to fill up and have to leave students behind as well. 

McDaniel’s district is large, stretching approximately eight miles north to south, from the airport to Holgate. According to a PPS Student Transportation presentation slide deck, secondary students living more than 1.5 miles away from their school are required to be provided with transportation. Therefore, a significant portion of McDaniel’s district is entitled to such, and for many, buses are vital for getting them to and from school in a safe and timely manner. A majority of McDaniel bus riders rely on the 72, meaning that all students that live outside of walking distance are somehow expected to fit on just a few buses.

Even for those who wouldn’t mind walking more than a mile, that may not be a practical option. 

Fragoso explained that if she walked, it would take her about an hour.

“I don’t live that far, but it’s a really long walk because there aren’t that many sidewalks,” Fragoso described. 

Bus rides to school should only take up to 35 minutes, even from the edges of the district, making the importance of busing to school even clearer.

Sometimes the bus goes on right past the stop, sometimes I wait from six to twenty minutes,

— Junior Ciara Fragoso

In addition to the potentially painful wait times, the bus and bus stops aren’t necessarily safe. Dippold expressed that waiting on 82nd feels “unsafe” because “there is no coverage [and] barely any light when it gets dark.” 

Fragoso also stated that they don’t necessarily feel safe waiting for the bus on 82nd, especially when it’s dark, partially because of the lack of light. 

Some of these issues may be addressed in the near future. The 82nd Avenue Coalition is working with the Portland Bureau of Transportation and other organizations to improve the entire 82nd Avenue corridor, from Killingsworth to the county line. 

In terms of bus improvements, a lane on 82nd may become entirely dedicated to buses, and bus stops will become better lit and sheltered. 

Another part of the proposed plan is to split the 72 line at Killingsworth, transforming it into two separate ones. One would go north to south and the other east to west. The north-south line would lose some of its current stops, a change that would, combined with the bus lane, make the line much faster and more efficient than it currently is.

Zachary Lauritzen, the 82nd Avenue Coalition Manager and Oregon Walks Interim Director, stated many changes are ahead. 

“The north-south part will be way enhanced: it’ll be faster, it’ll be safer, it’ll be more regular, a lot better stations, you will have cover instead of, like, standing out in the rain,” Lauritzen said. “It could be that the improvements to the north-south is totally worth the trade-off of having to make a transfer along that way.” 

It hasn’t been decided yet if this split will be done. The 82nd Avenue Coalition intends to discuss the plan with McDaniel students this spring. 

Bus passes are an important resource for high school students. In addition to giving them a relatively safe and reliable route to school, they give students a viable way to transport themselves to functions and appointments that fall outside of the education-related umbrella. 

As Fragoso, Dippold and Petrarca expressed, the current system is insufficiently serving students. For the most part, this system works well. But it is not without its flaws: buses are overcrowded and not necessarily safe. The intentions are there, but students should have accessible transportation that gets them to school on time and allows them to leave school in an efficient and low-stress manner when the day is over.

 Whether or not the 72 is changed exactly as the current plan dictates, those upgrades will hopefully cause significant improvements.