An article in The Sunday Oregonian explores Portland’s plans for future streetcar lines. “City leaders” want to expand the streetcar network throughout the city.
A streetcar could generate business and political momentum for clusters of midrise housing and commercial centers that could spread the walkable feel of popular urban neighborhoods.
I understand it’s politically expedient to emphasize the benefits to business when the government is selling a plan, but what strikes me about the streetcar discussions is that actual transportation gets nary a mention.
The current streetcar route, and the planned Eastside streetcar loop don’t serve commuters much, though developers salivate. Whereas a line out Martin Luther King Boulevard, or NE Broadway, or Sandy, or Belmont, or Hawthorne, or Woodstock, or . . . wait a minute.
The ZehnKatzen Times points out the new streetcar plans look a bit like, and perhaps should look more like, Portland’s world’s finest trolley system circa 1940. Portland already has relative density, and therefore potential streetcar riders and commuters, along many of the city’s main thoroughfares, most of which formerly accommodated streetcar lines.
In fact, Portland’s most revered inner city neighborhoods and business districts were originally developed along streetcar lines. For evidence of this in visual form, check out Historic Portland Trolley System Maps.
Though transit often gets short shrift in discussion of Portland’s streetcar future, most of those routes under discussion appear to be good transit routes too, so I assume the planners are taking that into account even if they don’t talk about it in public.
Some folks do, however, talk about transit in public. Below are some sites I highly recommend.
Transit, commuting, and mobility in Portland Oregon Metropolitan vicinity.
A conversation about access and mobility in the Portland/Vancouver region.
Advocating for a streetcar line along Hawthorne (a transit, though not political or property developer, no-brainer).
The Overhead Wire
Sending up transit and TOD with a little unconventional wisdom
Not Portland specific, but relevant to the discussion. Make sure to check out the right column Fixed Guideways, aka Blogroll, to find lots of other blogs and sites about transit, urban planning, rail, transit oriented development, etc.