. . . and to many other Portlanders. Who will remember names like "Jean" and "Walt" and what in the world makes these people particularly worthy of having a tram car named after them?
Jean Richardson was Oregon's first female engineering graduate - from Oregon State University in Corvallis. Walt Reynolds was the first black to graduate from the University of Oregon Medical School (now known as OHSU). At least Mr. Reynolds's claim is stronger but it seems pretty clear that these were politically-motivated and ultimately forgettable choices - Ms. Richardson because she was a woman engineer and Mr. Reynolds because he was a black graduate. What do these things have to do with the area? With transportation in Portland? With the tram itself?
If OHSU wanted to honor people associated with its campus, why not the first President? The first valedictory graduate? An individual famous for their contributions to science or medicine?
And the runner-up was "Fin" and "Feather???" Since the City never credited any citizen with coming up with the names for the new tram, it's pretty obvious that it either received nothing but lame suggestions or ideas it considered offensive, like "boon" and "doggle." It then went ahead and delved around for some politically expedient names that it could hurriedly tack onto the tram cars before the grand opening.
What can the public do when it gets to the top? Are there are plans for a café or restaurant or evening a public viewing platform where people can sit and enjoy coffee? Will there be a small visitors center so that tourists can plan their next stop? Will there be anything for those who aren't patients or doctors? Will the families of patients who are paying them a visit still have to pay the $4 round trip fee? If so, they'll probably drive to OHSU rather than pay to park and pay to take the tram.
How will the public get to the lower terminal and will there be places to park that don't cost more than the round trip on the tram?
Will tourist dollars pay the amount needed because it looks like those with Tri-Met monthly passes, employees of OHSU and patients will ride for free. It also sounds as though the tram operators are discouraging bicycles on the tram because they "take up too much room," even though it is designed to carry them. That may cut down on potential bicyclists who would like to take the tram to OHSU and then ride down the hill into town or over the hill into Hillsdale. Zoobombers, forget about using the tram to gain elevation before descending down Terwilliger.
Why should residents in the South Waterfront development EVER choose to take the tram? These are upscale places, owned by people who can afford to drive and who probably work in Portland, not up on Pill Hill. One article mentioned that only a couple of doctors had signaled serious intention of purchasing condos there and lower level employees probably can't afford them.
This is NOT an amusement park ride. We've already spent millions on it and now we are paying for concierges to greet people at the base and attendants to accompany riders during the trip? We don't do that on MAX, why are we paying for those people's salaries on the overpriced tram?
A recent article in the Mercury burbled on about how Portland needed a landmark like Seattle's Space Needle and St. Louis's arch. Sorry, but the tram is not that landmark. It has no history, no matter how much planners try to paste Native American names on the stations or honor unrelated individuals. It's a jumped up funicular, folks . . . like the hundreds all over Germany and Austria and it could be in any city; it's not unique to Portland.
The project reminds me of the Oregon Garden although I think the Oregon Garden has more going for it. It took off with a bang, but soon tourists numbers dwindled and it was looking at foreclosure. Unfortunately, we will have to keep paying for the tram, regardless of how miserably it performs in generating a sufficient amount of income over time.
The money used on the tram could better have been applied to extending the streetcar or MAX to Lake Oswego. But wait . . . that's going to happen anyway and we all know that those empoverished people in the McMansions in Lake O will ALL ride the streetcar to Portland rather than drive, right? So let's say, instead, that some of the money could have been used to refurbish or set up much-needed restroom facilities in the downtown area.
Now that a precedent has been set in appeasing OHSU, what else can we expect to see? Judging by this debacle, little that will demonstrate a decent return of services of quality of life for the middle or lower middle class residents of Portland.