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Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar

Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon          

“It must always be remembered how cost-effectiveness works in the public sector: the cost IS the benefit.” - author unknown

Tram Time & Budget






$9 million (or $3-5 million, take your choice)

$57 million

533% OVER construction budget

operating costs


$1.7 million

250% OVER operating budget

opening date


$500,000 to

$1 million



$1.7 million


Quote from article (we added most of the bold)

June 15, 1998

"The tram would link that center with the main campus, OHSU Vice President Jim Walker said. Early estimates put tram costs at $3 million to $5 million."

December , 2000

"Who would pay for the estimated $12 million to $14 million project is not clear. Consultant Gordon Davis said that OHSU would have to raise the money."

January 12, 2001

"The idea for the estimated $14 million to $18 million tramway came out of university planning for a master plan to guide growth for several years. It was presented to the North Macadam Steering Committee in 1997"

February 1, 2001

"After installation, a tram's yearly estimated operating cost, in the range of $500,000 to $1 million"

March 1, 2001

Gordon Davis, a consultant to the university working with engineers on a preliminary study, said estimates show $9 million for design and construction -- compared to a $14 million to $18 million range previously guessed -- and $480,000 a year for operation.

March 7, 2001

Preliminary engineering work shows project costs of about $9 million for design, construction and putting utility lines underground, and operating costs of about $600,000 a year. The numbers total several million dollars less than earlier estimates.

July 10, 2002

"It's too expensive," Commissioner Jim Francesconi, who oversees transportation, said about Howell's tunnel idea...The office guesses that it would cost between $50 and $80 million to build --... -- compared with about $16 million for a tram.

July 21, 2002

"Zidell points out that even if the tram's cost goes well beyond the $9.5-$10.5 million minimum needed to build it, that's just a fraction of the money going into redeveloping North Macadam."

January 4, 2003

"With a preliminary budget of $17 million for the project, PATI is asking the firms to design, the tram, towers and stations as well as a pedestrian bridge "

March 13, 2003

"But decisions about how the $15.5 million project will be financed and who will operate it are open."

November 15, 2003

"Figures issued Friday suggest that the tram...could cost between $24 million and $30.2 million, far exceeding the original budget of $15.5 million."

April 29, 2005

"The City Council also approves improvement projects for neighborhoods in the tram's path....A unanimous Portland City Council gave the final green light on Thursday to a $40 million aerial tram"

October 22, 2005

"SUMMARY: South Waterfront The aerial tram might now cost Portland $45 million, nearly triple the estimate from 2003"

January 12, 2006

"It's a dream of ours," Leonard recalls Kohler saying. "It's something we believe in."..."the final cost may be 'closer to $60 million.'"

January 13, 2006

"Portland Commissioners want to know why city staff knowingly relied on flawed estimates, which have tripled"

February 2, 2006

"The aerial tram's cost to link Pill Hill to South Waterfront has more than tripled in three years to $55 million"

March 16, 2006

"then-Mayor Vera Katz pushed for a postcard-pretty design to bind the city's largest employer to its newest neighborhood....She didn't consider it her job to watch the budget. Unfortunately, no one else at City Hall did either."

April 7, 2006

"He now says he'll back a tentative $57.6 million funding plan that calls for the city to more than double its contribution. Under the proposal, the city's share would rise from $3.5 million to $8.5 million."

Jan 9, 2007

"According to Adams, since the recommendations were accepted, the construction budget increased from $28 million to $57 million and the annual operating budget grew from $915,000 to $1.7 million. (Math: $1.7e6/365 = $4657 per DAY)"


$3 million to $5 million

$12 million to $14 million

$14 million to $18 million

$9 million

$16 million

$9.5-$10.5 million minimum

$17 million

$15.5 million

$24 million - $30.2 million

$40 million

$45 million

may be "closer to $60 million."

$45 million

$55 million

.She didn't consider it her job to watch the budge

$57.6 million

$57 million

“The initial numbers were not based on reality, but political,” Graham said of the cost. “It’s simply a surprise to people who were believing the political numbers.”  The Portland Tribune, Jan 2, 2004