Hales, Novick explore Eastside streetcar line extension

Hales, Novick explore Eastside streetcar line extension
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales told Portland Business Journal Power Breakfast attendees that he envisions extending the Eastside streetcar line to Portland Community College. (Cathy Cheney/Portland Business Journal)

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said Wednesday morning he’s interested in expanding the city’s streetcar line.

Specifically, Hales said he and City Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees Portland’s Transportation Bureau, have broached the idea of extending the Eastside line past the Broadway Bridge, where it travels into downtown Portland, further north along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The line would extend up to Portland Community College’s Cascade campus.

“I’ve looked at this idea with Commissioner Novick, who’s not bound by precedent” because he’s relatively new to the post, Hales said during the Portland Business Journal’s Power Breakfast. “We’ve looked at areas and said, where can we make something happen?”

Hales is known in some circles as “Choo Choo Charlie” for his advocacy of city streetcars. He’s credited with enabling the city’s line that connects the Nob Hill district with downtown.

The line is one of the factors that drove explosive development growth in the Pearl District in that it provided transportation to downtown for the neighborhood's new condominium and apartment dwellers.

He said some 25 cities across the country are looking at adding streetcars or light-rail systems that mirror Portland’s efforts.

Portland’s streetcars provided about 4 million rides in the past year. The ridership figures have been flat in recent years, remaining so even as the Eastside line opened a year ago.

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