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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.

City of Portland Audit of Portland Streetcar Operations

The City of Portland’s Auditor published a report on Portland Streetcar performance measures on Thursday December 11, 2014. A copy of the audit can be found here

The audit found issues with five of the fourteen performance measures used; most notably ridership information, cost per operating hour, and on-time performance reporting. Below is a brief summary of each finding with more context.


Ridership figures for Portland Streetcar can be found online. For the past 13 years Portland Streetcar has partnered with TriMet to perform counts of riders on streetcar vehicles. TriMet uses the counts and calculates weekday, Saturday, and Sunday ridership from a sample. This methodology is typical for agencies that do not have automatic passenger counters. This fall, TriMet found an issue with how it was estimating ridership from the base sample for the past fiscal year; specifically it found that some streetcar trips were regularly being double counted and this lead to a sharp increase in ridership beginning in July 2013.

TriMet corrected the issue and the data posted online and shared with our partners is now correct. We apologize for the error. Importantly, as of December 2014 Portland Streetcar has added automatic passenger counters on its fleet. These new counters will provide excellent data in a more timely and accurate fashion moving forward. We look forward to sharing the results soon. Ridership on Portland Streetcar remains strong; having added over a half million trips in 2013/14 and continuing to exceed projections. With the opening of the Tilikum Crossing in September 2015, and the addition of thousands of housing units under construction along the alignment, ridership is expected to continue to increase.

Cost per Revenue/Operating Hour

Cost per Revenue/Operating Hour is a good way to evaluate how cost-effective a transit service is and can be used to make comparisons across systems and modes. Portland Streetcar operates at $162 per Revenue Hour. The original target for this metric is $160/hour. As reported in the audit, light rail operates at $188/hour and bus operates at $142/hour in Portland. This measure is calculated by dividing the total operating budget by the number of hours the system is in “revenue service” or customer operations. For the year in question for the audit (2011/12), Portland Streetcar’s annual operating budget was $5.9 million and it operated for 36,739 hours.

The audit reported that the National Transit Database reports Portland Streetcar operations at $323/hour for the same time period. While the audit does not state which number is accurate, only that they are different, several media outlets reported the $323/hour figure as our “actual” costs. That is not accurate. The figure in the NTD is incorrect and includes millions of dollars of costs that are not associated with streetcar operations. We have been working with our partner, TriMet, to identify and correct this mistake for several months now. We regret any confusion.

On–Time Performance

Early in 2014, Portland Streetcar changed its methodology for tracking how often vehicles were “on-time.” Previously, manually entered performance logs were used to track delays in the system. Today we use GPS and track on-time performance by time-point stop and by line. The average for on-time performance is 82% today. Busses operate at 79% on-time, and MAX light rail operates at 86% on-time. These figures are reported monthly to our Citizen Advisory Committee and Board of Directors.

The auditor agreed that the change in methodology made sense and used the new method to evaluate Streetcar’s performance over time. The data provided to our customers at platforms, in apps, and on the website predict arrival times with great accuracy and we encourage customers to continue to use those resources. Now, with the switch to using GPS to evaluate the entire system, we are able to better manage systematic issues such as the locations that have emerged as either being routinely delayed, or those where operators are routinely arriving early.

2015 should be a great year for Portland with the opening of the Tilikum Crossing and increased service across the system. We are also beginning the roll-out of a regional E-fare system with TriMet and have several other service improvements in the works. Portland Streetcar will be reporting back to the Auditor in one year and we look forward to demonstrating continued success toward achieving our targets.


Streetcar Fleet up to 17 Vehicles

On Friday, November 21, 2014, Portland Streetcar accepted shipment of its newest streetcar bringing the total fleet to seventeen streetcars. The apple green and purple car, now known as Car 026, will begin testing next week and should begin revenue service before the end of 2014. This is the 7th vehicle from Oregon based manufacturer United Streetcar; United Streetcar has produced and delivered 18 vehicles total for Portland, Washington, DC and Tucson, Arizona since 2009.

Car 026 Delivery

The 17th vehicle is essential for the upcoming Portland Streetcar operations beginning September 12, 2015 when the completed Central Loop will provide service across the Tilikum Crossing carrying passengers in both directions around the Central City of Portland and extending the high frequency service currently found on 10th & 11th on the west side south to Portland State University, RiverPlace and the new Collaborative Life Sciences Building.

Car 026 Delivery

The streetcar was shipped from United Streetcar’s Clackamas headquarters on Friday morning and crews used jacks to lower the car onto tracks in Portland’s maintenance facility on NW Northrup.