To many in Portland — which LaHood christened the “transportation capital of America . . . the green capital of America . . . the streetcar capital of America” — it seemed like a good idea.
Oregon Iron Works was getting into the streetcar business, with funding from Portland, funding from Oregon, and funding from the feds. It was going to be a 19th-century revival, and streetcars would once again return to their rightful place in the urban landscape, thanks to "forward-thinking" Porkland leaders.
When the OIW spinoff, United Streetcar, finally produced one after much delay, considerable hoopla ensued: LaHood was here, along with Bow-tie Bluemanure, Ted Kulongoski, Pete DeFazio, and more - all speechifying and carrying on. Of course, the streetcar in the background above was inoperable, and in fact wouldn't hit the tracks for several months afterward. Worse yet, the thing's so riddled with defects that it's had to be removed from service to undergo roughly a year of repairs.
The Leftist visionaries nonetheless had high hopes: Portland ordered six streetcars (eventually deciding to settle for five at the price of the original six). Washington, D.C. ordered some, as did Tucson, Arizona. Not one was delivered on time out of the total order of 18 streetcars, and there have been no additional orders.
United Streetcar is now essentially dead.
Some workers have been laid off, others have been reassigned to United Streetcar’s parent company, Oregon Iron Works, which builds bridges and boats.
So much for the hundreds of good-paying jobs that government was going to create.
This is an example of the "liveability" that Bluemanure, LaHood, and other politicians claimed would revitalize neighborhoods and "spur development". The cars and trucks backed up behind the streetcar above are standard today in some parts of Porkland. As has been demonstrated a couple of times, it's actually faster to walk from one destination to another than it is to take the streetcar.
Bow-tie and the others don't seem to recognize that this is 2014, not 1914.