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FUN WITH JEAN & WALT - TRAMANIA

They will always be Boon and Doggle to me . . .
. . . 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.

Some questions:

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.
There's a Website Too 28.Jan.2007 19:47

Shrinking Neighborhood Below

OHSU and the City have also paid for a website for the tram!

 http://www.portlandtram.org/

There is a link for maps but they are huge PTF files, time-consuming to download and, of course, inaccessible to anyone without a computer . . .

without a computer? 29.Jan.2007 12:10

CaptainPlanet

"inaccessible to anyone without a computer"

There is nobody in this town who doesn't have access to the Internet. The libraries offer free I-net access, and there is a business just about every twenty blocks (such as a cafe) that has I-net terminals, many of them donation-supported so they can be used for free.

This idea that the I-net is classist is ridiculous. I know homeless people who have email accounts. The I-net is more accessible than phone voicemail.

Fun with Tram Flem & Flam 29.Jan.2007 18:54

Chinook

Ralph & Alice

Walt & Jean

What does it all mean?

How about

Flem and Flam

or even

Flem and Buoyant

if we want a champagne tram car
and a different hospital transport car.

Flem would be lime green
and Buoyant would be twelve bucks, with
it-sy bitsy smoked salmon and demi-glasses of champaign.

The residents can transfer from the max on Flem
and the tourists carry the load for the pleasure care: Buoyant.

Portland: where is your imagination, your joy.

If you are going to nickel and dime
and go back in time
and want to punish yourself some more
just add up what we are spending
on the Iraq war.

And our tram, with over-runs
cost less than two hours of that Boon oil Dog

uh-huh 29.Jan.2007 21:08

invisible portland

This is the kind of sour-faced, fact-free "if i didn't have something to protest i wouldn't know who i am" article that makes Indymedia so frequently unreadable. You must be done boycotting People's Co-op for "going corporate", or maybe just bored and angry. Skepticism is good. Informed skepticism is much more interesting though.

I agree that the names are embarrassingly stupid, and it's totally offensive that the stations have Chinook names. That's ever-pc Portland for you, though.

However, even given OHSU's dubious history as an institution, and the cost controversy, the aerial tram has its plusses going for it as well, the most obvious being that it is an alternative to the single occupancy vehicle; a much more efficient method of transporting people up and down the hill in terms of the use of natural "resources". It also links up with the mass transit rail system; commuters with Trimet or Streetcar passes can ride it for free. Even if you really think it's a boondoggle, at least ride it on one of the free Saturdays in February and see it up close. Why not?

To try to answer some of your questions:

"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."

There are plans to turn the 9th floor of the building at the top into a restaurant/visitors center/cafe/viewing area. And, no, families of patients will not have to pay.

"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?"

Ideally the streetcar, right? Or bicycle? The high cost of parking lots is intended to discourage people from driving their cars. However, for those that get separation anxiety when they travel outside of their auto bubble, there is already some metered onstreet parking down there.

"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."

Whether or not the $4 fare covers the city's share of the operating cost is unknown at this time. However, it is important to remember that for the first 5 years, OHSU is under contract to pay for 85% of total operating costs, and thereafter to pay whatever the share of OHSU users is. That same sort of divvying was used for construction costs, with the city paying about 8 million of the total 57 million cost. I hadn't heard anything about the operator/concierge people discouraging bicycles, except in times of crowding, in which case you'd need to wait for space. What's your source?

"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."

Actually, I've read that many OHSU employees do live in South Waterfront. (Also, both market-rate and affordable apartments are in the works.) People who can afford to drive don't necessarily want to drive, that's your own assumption. The South Waterfront development is designed around inner-city density, an emphasis on greater sustainability in building practices, access to mass transit, and minimal road capacity. For the area to "work" at all in the future, people simply will not be able to use their cars as a primary way to get around. It is indeed "development", the developers may be getting rich, the condos so far may be for the wealthy (largely due to astronomical construction costs), but in the absence of a truly sustainable (un)economy I'd rather subsidize this smart growth model than continue to subsidize sprawling suburbs.

"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?"

OK... it's not an amusement park ride, that's true. What's your point? Earlier you were concerned about what tourists would do at the top... And I believe that the concierges are also operators, similar to MAX, only they're not separated from passengers. If anything, we need many more "concierges" on the MAX and streetcar to inspect fares and help visitors get around.

"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."

I agree about the landmark status. I don't think PDX needs a kitschy Space Needle or Arch. Yuck. But the Space Needle had "history" when it was built???
And, folks, a funicular is a cable railway, something Portland actually had in the early 20th century (you can still see some ruins at the bottom in Goose Hollow). What you meant was "jumped-up gondola", which would be pretty accurate. As for not unique, the only other commuter (not purely for recreation) aerial tram, at least in this country, is in NYC. This is a pretty unique project, even just by engineering standards.

"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."

I don't see the comparison with the Oregon Garden at all, as the tram has dedicated funding from multiple sources and will be used at the very least by increasing numbers of people moving between two expanding medical/university campuses. Also, when you say "we" still have to pay for it, you neglect to mention the fact that OHSU will be paying for it's share of users, probably a very high percentage. As you said, it really isn't just an "amusement ride" for tourists.

"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."

The funding for projects like this is not somehow interchangable. The streetcar (most likely with significant federal funding) may end up going all the way to Lake O, but only after the Eastside streetcar loop is completed, which you neglected to mention. Thus, for $1.75, people of various class strata will be able to transport themselves in a a loop through the inner city in the comfort of a streetcar rather than a gas-guzzling and expensive car or uncomfortable bus (or, in bad weather, sore feet). My job involves working with very poor people for low pay, I assure you that I share your concern for how the city budget gets spent.
I don't see how the tram qualifies as a "debacle", unlike, say, the emphasis on road-building that was the prevailing status quo in this city for decades of destruction. And while the issue of inner-city gentrification is real, there are some good things happening in response, like the city council forcing the PDC to dedicate 30% of its budget to affordable housing. Or the fact that public restroom are indeed going to be built downtown, at least one of them with the involvement of City Repair.

Sometimes i wish more Indymedia writers and commentators could see the world in shades other than black and white.

Citations? 30.Jan.2007 20:39

North Portlander

Invisible Portland -- thanks for your input but you do this site a disservice by tarring its posters with one brush. It's a fact that the tram is here and we have to make the best of it, but we don't all have to like it, or the enormous cost overrun. That's a fact.

You say, "This is the kind of sour-faced, fact-free 'if i didn't have something to protest i wouldn't know who i am' article that makes Indymedia so frequently unreadable."

You can call what was said "unsubstantiated by citations" but you can't call the entire thing "fact-free." I did not see you citing sources for any of your pronouncements or opinions either.

I did not say that there were no positive things about the presence of the tram. Certainly riding a tram to a destination is preferable to driving a car, but it's only going to serve a very small number of commuters, comparatively speaking. The tram takes 3 minutes to travel up the hill and the distance from the south waterfront to the OHSU campus is only a couple of miles.

Yes, it's a nice draw for tourists and it is exciting to ride.

It does (or will) link with other Portland transit systems but I wish it went further and integrated completely with the Tri-Met fare system. You can pay $4 for a tri-met ticket and ride all day on the buses or MAX - anywhere in town. For $4 on the tram, you get a six minute ride up and back.

You write, "Even if you really think it's a boondoggle, at least ride it on one of the free Saturdays in February and see it up close. Why not?"

What makes you think I haven't already done so?

You wrote, "There are plans to turn the 9th floor of the building at the top into a restaurant/visitors center/cafe/viewing area. And, no, families of patients will not have to pay."

I'm very glad to hear this; that's why I asked. What is your source for this information?

You wrote, in reference to parking at the southern terminal area:, ". . . for those that get separation anxiety when they travel outside of their auto bubble, there is already some metered onstreet parking down there."

And a $10 lot. That fact appeared in a recent Oregonian article regarding the opening.

You wrote: "I hadn't heard anything about the operator/concierge people discouraging bicycles, except in times of crowding, in which case you'd need to wait for space. What's your source?" The same Oregonian opening ceremonies article and a television News spot on Channel 8.

You wrote, "Actually, I've read that many OHSU employees do live in South Waterfront."

I'd like to hear what your source is. I've read in three different articles over the past five months that OHSU employees have been slow to buy into residency in the south waterfront developments. In one article, I read that a couple of doctors had considered it and even gone as far as putting deposits down but hadn't yet followed through. Since I recycle my papers and periodical websites don't tend to keep their feature articles up for more than a week, unfortunatley I can't cite the exact date, page, etc.

"(Also, both market-rate and affordable apartments are in the works.)"

I've seen what developers consider 'affordable housing' units and they don't sound affordable to me.

You write: "It is indeed "development", the developers may be getting rich, the condos so far may be for the wealthy (largely due to astronomical construction costs), but in the absence of a truly sustainable (un)economy I'd rather subsidize this smart growth model than continue to subsidize sprawling suburbs."

In fact, recent trends show that those who can afford it are moving back into the urban areas. Those relegated to the suburbs are, increasingly, not there my choice but because they have been either priced out of the inner city or had their apartment sold out from under them so that it can be turned into condos. I'm speaking from personal experience; it's happened twice to me and to others as well. The "move to the suburbs" growth model is not a viable model.

"And I believe that the concierges are also operators, similar to MAX, only they're not separated from passengers. If anything, we need many more "concierges" on the MAX and streetcar to inspect fares and help visitors get around."

You "believe"? The concierges I saw stood at the entrances and in the middle of the car and acted as greeters and monitors. They didn't run the tram.

You wrote, "I agree about the landmark status. I don't think PDX needs a kitschy Space Needle or Arch. Yuck. But the Space Needle had "history" when it was built???"

Who said it didn't? The Space Needle, the Statue of Liberty and the St. Louis Arch are part of the history of those cities. Portland is already known as the City of Bridges and the City of Roses. Not the City of the Aerial Tram.

You wrote: "The funding for projects like this is not somehow interchangable."

I was speaking loosely. I've served on enough citizens' advisory committees in Portland that depended (at least in part) on Federal money to know that money set aside for highways can't go to schools, etc. etc. If anything, the time and attention spent on the tram and other questionable projects means that time and attention are not paid to other things.

You wrote, "The streetcar (most likely with significant federal funding) may end up going all the way to Lake O, but only after the Eastside streetcar loop is completed, which you neglected to mention. Thus, for $1.75, people of various class strata will be able to transport themselves in a a loop through the inner city in the comfort of a streetcar rather than a gas-guzzling and expensive car or uncomfortable bus (or, in bad weather, sore feet). My job involves working with very poor people for low pay, I assure you that I share your concern for how the city budget gets spent."

Very glad to hear this. Believe me, I hadn't heard anything about it. It sounds as though you are employed by the City or perhaps even one of our City Council members. If so, perhaps getting this information out as well as qvelling about the tram would make other happy too.

You wrote: "I don't see how the tram qualifies as a "debacle", unlike, say, the emphasis on road-building that was the prevailing status quo in this city for decades of destruction. And while the issue of inner-city gentrification is real, there are some good things happening in response, like the city council forcing the PDC to dedicate 30% of its budget to affordable housing. Or the fact that public restroom are indeed going to be built downtown, at least one of them with the involvement of City Repair. "

Please, don't tempt me to comment on the antics of the PDC. I can't afford a stroke. I know the restrooms are coming and may they arrive soon and in our lifetime.

Keep caring -- we may have our differences re. this project, but it is obvious we share other opinions as well.