The Portland Bureau of Transportation has spent $3.8 million in the past year—that’s 19 percent of all parking-meter revenues—to clean up TriMet’s transit mall, pay off the mall’s debt, and create marketing campaigns to lure more shoppers downtown. The expenses included $331,000 for “hose flushing” the transit mall twice a week. City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade revealed this finding in a Jan. 30 audit, which points to many pressing transportation needs and chides the City Council for launching new projects without money to pay for them. WW broke news of the audit three weeks ago (“A Fork in the Road,” WW, Jan. 9, 2013). One example: Mayor Sam Adams’ $16 million commitment to build sidewalks in neighborhoods that lack them. The audit says the city counted on gas-tax revenues that didn’t come in as projected—and then “opted to reduce other transportation programs in the adopted budget rather than reduce funding for these new capital commitments for sidewalks.”
- Portland’s new eastside streetcar is earning the nickname “Ghost Train” for how few riders the line gets. The city is now seeking proposals to install automated passenger-counting systems in six of its streetcars, including the eastside Central Loop line and busier westside lines. The city currently pays TriMet to conduct a census of streetcar ridership, but it can’t afford to get stop-by-stop numbers. No word yet whether blogger Jack Bogdanski—who frequently documents eastside streetcars traveling empty—has put in a bid.