APTA Streetcar and
Seashore Trolley Museum Logo
Heritage Trolley Site
Hosted by the Seashore Trolley Museum
Portland - January 2008

[Back to Portland]

Portland — Streetcars vs. BRT

Rail Transit Online, January 2008

Planners seeking to extend the city's highly successful streetcar system across the Willamette River from the Pearl District to the east side believe the Bush administration is showing bias toward bus rapid transit in setting cost-effectiveness standards for federal funding under the new Small Starts program. Portland officials are seeking a 50-percent contribution from Washington for the $147-million east side project. But they have been told by the Federal Transit Administration that the White House's Office of Management and Budget has ordered a change in criteria when judging proposed transit projects that could use either streetcars or bus rapid transit, with BRT being favored. The decision appears counter to language in the Small Starts section of the SAFETEA-LU six-year transit funding bill.

Oregon congressmen Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer are leading efforts to blunt the administration's plan and to get Small Starts funded as intended. Blumenauer is a streetcar advocate who helped fashion the Small Starts concept. But after more than two years, not a single streetcar project has been authorized under the program. A section in the Fiscal Year 2008 federal transportation bill withdraws funding for the administration's attempt to write a permanent anti-streetcar rule. "If they wrote a rule like that and they implemented it, we'd be stuck with it for a minimum of two or more years, and that's not acceptable," DeFazio told The Oregonian. Meanwhile, local officials are challenging the FTA over which factors should be included in the new criteria, even as planning for the east side extension continues.


[Back to Portland]