A streetcar at the corner of SW 11th and Alder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Portland Streetcar costs $9 million a year to run, and there's only the one line. So they decided that maybe, with the elimination of TriMet's "fareless square" downtown, it might be a good idea to install $1 fare-boxes at each stop along the route. The brain-trust implemented that last fall, and to their great surprise, the boxes are bringing in a little over half as much cash as they expected.
Since they have no idea of how many people are actually riding the thing, the estimated income was likely wildly overestimated. Most riders, when present, are only going the two dozen or so blocks between the Pearl District in northwest Portland to downtown or Portland State, in southwest Portland. When the streetcar putts its way ever-so-slowly across the Broadway bridge to the eastern part of its route, there are rarely any passengers; thus earning the thing its increasingly popular moniker, "The Ghost Train".
Portland's intellectual giants are now taking bids for an automated passenger-counting system to be added to half of their streetcars, and are considering "cracking down on freeloaders". Great timing for both, as ridership's likely to fall even further during the nice weather days - it's actually faster to walk to a destination than to ride the streetcar. There're bound to be more riders when it's raining.
In other idiocy, Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability continually yammers at residents about the importance of water conservation; as if mandated low-flow toilets aren't enough, they also send faucet and shower adapters to restrict water flows, yadda yadda yadda. At the same time, however, the city spends $331,000 a year on hose-flushing their spiffy downtown transit mall twice a week. How Green is that?
Chances are, if they'd just run the street punks and the bums out of there, there'd be less urine to wash away. Probably get a few more shoppers and diners down there, as well.