I didn't miss the editorial in The O on Saturday about the Portland streetcar -- eighth wonder of the world, apparently. Sure, it's waste of money, and sure, you can get there faster on foot, but hey! It just won an award from some east coast design group, and that's more important than making financial sense. The streetcar is "snazzy." It has "sizzle." Everyone involved should be thanked. And the editorial quotes Earl Blumenauer, as told to Randy Gragg, on the all-important topic of who should take credit. Gag!
Looks to me like Randy wrote this one himself.
The award is for $50,000. The City of Portland general fund subsidy of the streetcar was $800,000 a year at last report -- and that was before the expansion to the Empty Retail Canyons at RiverPlace. Now the subsidy is more likely close to $1 million. And so even by the most generous estimates, the lovely award will pay the city's share of running the streetcar for 23 days. Snazzy.
The O cracks me up. When the city raises the rates on parking meters, it's front page news. I suspect that like many reporters, some of the folks at the O are too cheap to buy a legitimate parking space, and so they play feed-the-meter through much of the day. When the city ups the ante, they howl. But when the city blows its transportation dollars on colorful toys that do little more than sell junk condominiums, the front office at the O gushes with praise.
The streetcar looks good to tourists who don't know any better. Kind of like The Oregonian.