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New Data Shows Streetcar Provides Boost for Economic Development in Portland

Analysis points to residential growth and over $4.5 billion in real estate development along the Streetcar Corridor

Portland Streetcar, Inc. released new economic development data Thursday, providing insight into the Streetcar’s influence on real estate investment, housing development, and population changes in the Central City. The data analysis was conducted by ECONorthwest and evaluates economic development outcomes since construction began on the first Streetcar line in 1998.

Infographic summarizing economic development data

A positive factor in Central City Development

Since 1998, the Streetcar Corridor (defined as ¼ mile on either side of the tracks) has seen 22.9 million total square feet of real estate development, including 7.7 million square feet of commercial space and nearly 18,000 residential units. The total market value of all that new development (both commercial and residential) is estimated at $4.5 billion. The market value of all property in the corridor (both new and existing has increased by $11.63 billion since 1998.

“While there are plenty of factors that influence investment decisions, we’ve seen that the Streetcar has had a positive impact on economic development in the Central City,” said Dan Bower, executive director of the non-profit Portland Streetcar, Inc. “By providing affordable, accessible, and reliable service, the Streetcar is a key part of what makes Portland such a livable city.”

In their analysis, ECONorthwest found that of the 7.7 million square feet of commercial real estate that has been developed in the Streetcar Corridor since 1998, 35 percent is attributable to proximity to the Streetcar. On the residential side, 41 percent of the approximately 18,000 units that have been built are due to the presence of the Streetcar. In addition, 25 percent of all apartments that have been built in the corridor during that period are subsidized affordable housing units.

TABLE: New residential units built along the Streetcar Corridor since 1998

Type Buildings Units
Apartment 71 8,635
Affordable 26 2,911
Condominium 41 4,230
Hotel 6 1,315
Institutional 3 797
Grand Total 147 17,888

In 2015, the Streetcar continues to be a positive factor in spurring development and investment in the Central City with construction cranes lining either side of the corridor. There are currently nearly 3,500 residential units and over 600,000 square feet of commercial space under construction along the Streetcar Corridor and another 44 residential projects and 18 commercial projects proposed for development. A map of new development projects that are proposed or already under construction is available here.

Growing population while reducing dependence on automobiles

Over time, the residential population living near the Streetcar has grown and those residents have become less reliant on cars for daily transportation. Since 1998, population in the Streetcar Corridor has increased 34.9 percent, while the population of City of Portland as a whole increased 12.4 percent. According to data from 2013, 38.6 percent of households in the Streetcar Corridor do not own a vehicle, compared to 15 percent of households in City of Portland.

Along with system expansion and improvements, the rise in development along the Streetcar Corridor has contributed to increased streetcar ridership. Daily streetcar ridership has increased from about 4,000 users per day in 2001 to the 15,000 that use the system today. As riders begin to use the A/B Loops to travel around the city, ridership is expected to grow to 20,000 riders per day by 2025.

Portland Streetcar Fares as of September 1, 2015

Fare Type Price
Streetcar Only (2.5 Hour) $2.00
Streetcar/TriMet All Day $5.00
Streetcar Only Monthly Pass $44.00
Streetcar Only Annual Pass $440.00
Streetcar/TriMet Honored Citizen/Youth (2.5 Hour) $1.25
Streetcar Only Honored Citizen/Youth Monthly Pass $25.00
Streetcar Only Honored Citizen/Youth Annual Pass $250.00

New fares will allow Portland Streetcar to provide expanded and improved service, including new service over the Tilikum Crossing and the opening of the new A and B Loops (formerly the Central Loop or CL) beginning September 12, 2015.

With the new fare, Streetcar riders can expect a few changes:

  • More service with the A & B Loops (formerly CL) extending to South Waterfront over the Tilikum Crossing.
  • Improved Saturday service with streetcars every 15 minutes.
  • Added late night service for the A & B Loops to better serve events at the Rose Quarter
  • Increased fare enforcement and security
  • Transition to an all-electronic fare system (E-Fare) in partnership with TriMet and C-Tran in 2016 and 2017.
  • New Honored Citizen/Youth Streetcar Only passes



Portland Streetcar, Inc. is Hiring

Portland Streetcar, Inc. (PSI) is seeking qualified individuals to assist in customer service and data collection work beginning immediately. Beginning September 12, Portland Streetcar will begin operating over the Tilikum Crossing: Bridge of the People adding new connections and extending the 7.5 minute frequency normally found on 10th and 11th Avenues all the way south to the northern edge of the South Waterfront. Streetcar's increased presence in our community has been matched with increasing ridership with now over 15,000 riders a day. This all makes it a great time to further educate the community about how to be safe on and around Portland Streetcar.

Customer Service Representatives help educate customers about safe riding, how to buy fares, perform surveys, and help riders access the system and nearby destinations. The position has flexible hours and will provide a great opportunity to learn more about the role of transit in our community. Click here to download the full job description and application details. Applications are due by July 31, 2015


Community Streetcar Coalition Streetcar Summit: Washington, D.C., March 17-19

Portland Streetcar staff joined PSI Board Chair Jim Mark in Washington, D.C. at the annual Community Streetcar Coalition (CSC) Summit March 17-19, 2015. The meeting brought together streetcar cities, vehicle and component manufacturers, elected officials and others to discuss the state of modern streetcars in America.

Nineteen cities, four streetcar manufacturers, and roughly twenty-five other organizations were represented at the Summit, including elected officials from Milwaukee, WI, where a recent vote approved a two-mile streetcar line to begin operations in 2018; and Kansas City, MO, where city officials are near completion of a two-mile route connecting Union Station up Main Street to the River Market set to open next year. Other cities represented include fellow operating systems Tucson, AZ, Atlanta, GA, and Salt Lake City, UT as well as several others ranging from under construction to fully funded to just starting the planning phases.

While in D.C. PSI staff presented on the opening of the Central Loop (scheduled for September 12, 2015) and on our governance structure (a partnership between the City, TriMet, and PSI). CSC Attendees learned about the D.C. Streetcar program on H Street, met with Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration Therese McMillan, and learned more about new technologies emerging in the streetcar field including “off-wire” streetcars powered by batteries, which several cities are beginning to use including Dallas, TX which opens April 13, 2015.

The highlight of the Summit was a reception for members of Congress where select members were asked to present about major streetcar project updates. Portland’s own Rep. Blumenauer presented on the Tilikum Crossing and the Central Loop; Rep. Adams from Charlotte, NC presented on the opening of Charlotte’s streetcar system (set to open June 30, 2015), Rep. Matsui from Sacramento gave a spirited presentation on the process leading up to Sacramento’s inclusion in the President’s budget for FY 15/16, and Rep. Grijalva from Tucson, AZ presented on the recent opening in Tucson, stating, “I want to make sure this (streetcar) is a permanent part of the country’s infrastructure portfolio.”

There are six cities in America operating modern streetcar systems today with another three cities opening this year; our neighbor to the north, Seattle, is opening a second streetcar line later this summer. Portland continues to lead all cities with 15 miles of streetcar tracks and over 15,000 riders per day.

Portland Streetcar Rolls Out New Look, New Logo in Preparation for New Expanded Service Over Tilikum Crossing

 Old Portland Streetcar LogoNew Portland Streetcar Logo

Portland Streetcar will open the full Central Loop streetcar service on September 12, 2015. The new service will connect the east and west sides of Portland’s central city; a vision laid out by City leaders nearly thirty years ago.

Today, in advance of the opening of the Loop, streetcar partners are releasing a new logo for Portland Streetcar that reflects the connecting nature of the service, the partnerships that makes it possible, and the colors that make streetcar so memorable.

The new logo will replace the now decades old logo which depicted Portland’s skyline alongside streetcar rails. Customers can expect to see the new logo on the streetcars and at stations later this spring and on printed materials, maps, and other collateral as they are updated over the summer. The website and social media accounts have already made the change.

 Car 21 with new logoFlag Pole with new logo

The timing on this change is ideal with the Loop opening in Fall 2015; there a tremendous opportunity to update the look and feel of streetcar and remind customers and the public about what we are all trying to accomplish with Portland Streetcar; and do it in a cost effective way. The extension of streetcar over the Tilikum Crossing this fall will require all the maps at stations, in the cars, on the website and in brochures be updated to show the Central Loop extending to South Waterfront and over to the eastside; the new logo will be incorporated in to these designs.

From the outset, the goal of Portland Streetcar has been to shape growth in Portland and to provide circulation and access to the thousands of residents and employees that live and work in Portland’s growing central city. With over 15,000 riders each weekday, the Streetcar is well on its way to an expected 20,000 riders per day by 2025. A 2008 study of streetcar found $3.5 billion worth of investment along the streetcar line; that study is being updated now and will be published later this spring.

The logo was designed by Spoke Branding, based in Portland on SE Division St. The City of Portland’s Streetcar Citizen Advisory Committee and Board of Directors of Portland Streetcar, Inc., along with other community partners participated in the development of the new logo.

Questions or Media Inquiries: Dan Bower

Portland Streetcar Releases First Ridership Figures from Automatic Passenger Counters

Today Portland Streetcar, Inc. (PSI) published ridership reports for January and February, 2015; these are the first reports using newly installed “Automatic Passenger Counters” or APCs, which were installed and tested in December, 2014.
The APCs provide significantly more data than the previous method of sampling; roughly 33% of all operating hours are counted for each service day. PSI staff are working through a year-long process to certify the APCs for use with the National Transit Database (NTD).
The APC counts show strong ridership gains across the system from 2014 to 2015 for the first two months of available data. The counts indicate continued growth on the Central Loop (CL), which will be completed on September 12, 2015 with the opening of the Tilikum Crossing.
Portland Streetcar will be reporting ridership monthly using APC data from January 2015 forward. All previous ridership reports from 2001 through December 2014 are available online.

Media Contact: Dan Bower


Streetcar's First Ride Across the Tilikum Crossing

FirstRideTilikumCrossing from Portland Streetcar on Vimeo.

On Wednesday, January 21, 2015 Car 008 made Portland Streetcar's historic first journey across the Tilikum Crossing. This is the first of many steps leading up to the opening of the Completed Central Loop on September 12, 2015.