A brilliant transit idea

The Oregonian on the streetcar plan:

This eastside route poses a much different transportation and economic development challenge than the existing streetcar that links Northwest Portland, the Pearl District, Portland State University and the South Waterfront. The first line ran through a route that was, for the most part, already developed, including the dense housing in Northwest, the vibrant Pearl District and the condos and apartments west of PSU.

Much of the eastside line, in contrast, will travel parts of the city — the Rose Quarter, the Lloyd District, the Central Eastside — where few people live and where commercial development has struggled. This won’t be a streetcar coming to the people, but, the city hopes, people and development coming to the streetcar.

Again, that’s going to require patience. The slow emptying out of the Rose Quarter neighborhood took decades, and it will take time — and more than vague ideas about developing Memorial Coliseum — to bring people and development back. It will take time, creativity and money, too, to mold the Lloyd District and the Central Eastside into strong, inviting and walkable 24-hour neighborhoods. The shelved plans for a convention center hotel pose another serious challenge.

Believe it or not that’s from an editorial in support of the expansion! And have I mentioned that my neighborhood is already served by multiple bus routes and an existing light rail line?

A later paragraph explains why this is such a good idea for Oregon:

This is a small but important start for Portland and for streetcar development nationally. More than 80 cities have plans to build streetcar lines and a few have begun construction. All these rail projects could have critical ties back to Oregon, where United Streetcar, a unit of Clackamas-based Oregon Iron Works Inc., is poised to be the domestic manufacturer of streetcars for cities all over the nation.

See, by wasting $150 million on this streetcar Portland can set a shining example for other cities who will follow our lead in wasting their own millions on streetcars that we sell to them. In the long run it’s a brilliant, devious plan.

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  1. [...] Jacob Grier on Portland, Oregon’s new streetcar system. (Update: More here.) [...]

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