All aboard the farce train

Long-time readers of this blog and its predecessor know of my contempt for Portland's dopey streetcar system. From its outset, I have hated it. It was bad enough that the regional transit agency, Tri-Met, was trashing its perfectly good bus system to replace it with trains. But for Portland City Hall to suddenly get involved in building and operating its own train system was a stunningly wrong idea. It was right up there with the aerial tram, and from the same screwy mindset.

What was the point of the streetcar? It was something the real estate developer weasels demanded, and the City Council jumped at their orders. The train tracks sold apartment bunkers. But it's hard to see how that made life better for anyone. 

A lot of places that the streetcar runs through are more depressed now than ever, particularly on the east side. The cars are slow, they don't carry many people, and like all transit, they attract Portland's troubled souls.

This week, the streetcar debacle has reached a new level of absurdity, with the news that the city is suing Tri-Met for $10 million over poor construction of a streetcar stop down by the science museum. It seems that the city hired Tri-Met to find a contractor to do the work, and now the stop in question needs repairs. As in, maybe $10 million of repairs. 

So the choo-choo train bureaucracies have begun feeding on each other. God forbid we should put those lawyers to work prosecuting criminals.

"Go by Streetcar!" the neon sign said. Portland certainly has gone somewhere during the streetcar era. But not to a happy place.


  1. We have a 'convention center hotel' on the east side of the river so as to be right across the light rail lines from the Convention Center. This is presumably because conventioneers are incapable of taking a light rail train from their downtown hotel to the Convention Center. This is with "Go By Train" and "Go By Streetcar" neon signs burning holes in the night sky. Metro nitwits bought in to it, so I assume they know that all those encouragements to use fixed rail are entirely pointless. Such glaring hypocrisy emanates from almost ALL our corrupt politicians.

    With the success of the Convention Center Hotel, I can only assume that Portland has a very strong and influential Sex Workers Lobby. Evidently, stronger even than the Choo-choo Lobby.

  2. Totally agree Jack, and now there's talk afoot about extending the street car on NW 23rd from Lovejoy to Burnside. Now there is a CF idea if there ever was one. The trajectory this city is on resembles a diving submarine.

  3. It was never about transportation, really, since you can practically outwalk the things. It's more in the class of entertainment, something to look at that reminds vaguely of Europe, or something. Which makes it all the more galling that my proposal, trained monkeys juggling while riding on the backs of the Portland Zoo elephants, was rejected. It was cheaper, more fun, and just as functional.

  4. It's just more of the same garbage that these nitwits have been spraying out over the last 20-30 years now. Overpaid bureaucrats with marching orders to "spend those millions - if we don't spend 'em we lose 'em". And the sheeple continue to just fork it over year after year without so much as a bleat.

    The idiots who "run" Portland are an extremely contemptible and greedy lot, and no doubt their backyards are quite nicely furnished with the spoils of all of these millions of tax dollars. It is just disgusting. But they'll continue to hand us totally useless "systems" that cost a fortune and are far less efficient per passenger-mile than probably numerous other solutions that don't involve endless tearing up of streets, detours, modifications, additions and improvements, it just never ends. Beyond stupid. Portland is giving SanFran a real run for it's money in the "how stupid can we be" race...

  5. These dumbasses think they can create a European city by putting a bunch of tourist trolleys in the way of traffic- which of course they hate the idea of anyone getting around efficiently.

  6. Pre-pandemic, I see streetcars full of riders, mostly around PSU. I live and used to work at opposite ends of the route circling the river. But buses are faster. Cycling is faster. If I ever choose to go car-less, I might use it again.


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