Development Myths Drive Streetcar
In an opinion piece published in the Portland Tribune on December 6, 2012, a Portland State University adjunct professor named Eric Fruits maintains that streetcars do not, by themselves, spur economic development.
He claims that regeneration in Porltand's Pearl District began with tax abatements for redevelopment of warehouses into condos. Then an urban renewal area was created and the streetcar followed a few years later. He argues that it is impossible to determine if the streetcar created development or whether it was just one of a variety of factors that contribute to success.
In the case of Portland's South Waterfront development, Fruits states that from the mid-1990s developers tried building new condos in the area, but were frustrated by obstacles in the city's planning process. He does not accept the argument that the streetcar and the aerial tram that serves the area spurred development. He feels road improvements in the area would have resulted in faster development of the new residences.
Finally, he expresses skepticism as to whether economic activity will begin along the newly opened east side streetcar loop.
Another Delivery Deadline Missed
The Oregonian reported in early December that United Streetcar, the Clackamas, OR based subsidiary of Oregon Iron Works, again missed the deadline for delivering the first production car to the Portland Streetcar system.
The latest deadline to pass was November 29th, after many months of delays. The new projected delivery date was December 16. A severe shortage of cars is negatively affecting service frequency on the streetcar, now that the new East Side loop is in service. Even if the delivery date is met, a further five weeks of testing and certification would be needed.
United Streetcar schedules are also slipping for delivery of similar cars to Tucson and Washington, DC.