Last week Mayor McGinn and Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Sally Clark, Jean Godden, and Mike O’Brien traveled down to Portland to learn more about Portland’s transit system. Below is an excerpt from the Mayor’s blog.
One thing that we immediately noticed is just how much passenger rail Portland now has. It seems like you can’t walk more than a block or two downtown without crossing streetcar or light rail tracks. The streetcar line and the Max light rail lines provide great coverage downtown and form the backbone for the east/west and north/south lines that connect downtown to the city’s neighborhoods and suburbs. Portland has been working on this system since the 1970s, and in that time they’ve shown how rail can revitalize a city. We’ve clearly got some catching up to do, especially as Portland is planning new rail lines.
A key to Portland’s success has been using public right of way for most of the rail lines. It significantly reduces construction costs by eliminating need to acquire expensive new right of way. They have integrated rail onto existing surface streets in a way that works for cars and buses while helping to improve the feel and pedestrian experience of the street.
It’s great to see city leadership spending the time to learn about transit. It would be interesting to know what the take away message for the council members were.