This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 14, 2007 12:03 AM. The previous post in this blog was Part of the problem. The next post in this blog is Life after Washington. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Such a deal

The folks at OHSU are running free aerial tram rides [rim shot] this weekend. They seem a little desperate for riders all of a sudden -- putting up flyers on the hospital campus and all.

But hey, as a Portland taxpayer who's chipping in to pay debt service on upwards of $8 million to build the thing, plus another few hundred thousand a year to run it, let me be the first to say "Welcome aboard." You'll be whisked in non-climate-controlled midsummer luxury high above a lovely old neighborhood that you can rest assured hates your guts. After your breathtaking ride to the top, you'll be at -- a hospital! Fun! On the way down, marvel at the empty condo towers, with more to come. Chuckle at the thought of the 10,000 biotech jobs that were supposed to arrive shortly after the tram -- sorry, not a one in sight.

And be my guest -- go by streetcar! By the time you get back home, you will have killed an entire day doing not much.

Remember, it's all free.

Comments (13)

KGW has the 'Tram Cam', which looks like it sits at the upper terminal and looks East. When it first debuted, they (particularly Jim Donovan) seemed to have problems pronouncing it, and it often came out sounding much like "Tram Scam". Hmm.

As Admiral Akbar would say: "It's a trap!"

You see, the City and OHSU split operating costs based on who is riding.

"Free" tram rides are a way to boost non-OHSU ridership, so the City gets to pay more of the operating costs.

Do the free passengers count toward the final annual count? And if so, who's side of the ledger will they go on? As I recall, the annual operating costs are shared between the city and OHSU based on who has the percentage of riders each party supplies. So if OHSU has 80% of the ridership, they're on the hook for 80% of the cost. Perhaps they're running closer to 90% of the daily rides and want to bump the city's numbers?

Has anyone every seen any figures on the PAID rides? Last time I saw anything it was like 5:1 free:paid. This means we should pay off the tram about the same time PFDR balances its budget.

Not that anybody's really counting, but Amanda Fritz has demonstrated to my satisfaction that we're all paying interest on a city subsidy that's at least $11.9 million, not the widely reported $8.5M.

Her number-crunching is worth a look at http://www.amandafritz.com/node/1107

As Admiral Akbar would say: "It's a trap!"

Lulz. Good call.

Heh...Yeah, I'm still trying to get it through my head as to why a buncha touristas would want to go "ride the tram" *rimshot* to the hospital. I guess it has the same attraction as running barefoot through the cemetary at night.

Y'know, when I rode that tram, all that kept going through my head was "there's $57 million worth of boondoggle here, of which OHSU is paying the larger part. Note to self: No healthcare at OHSU." The price of healthcare MUST have gone up on Pill Hill.

I laughed out loud for 5 minutes after reading this...then I realized that every word Jack wrote is 100% true.

I've been skeptical about the numbers like everyone else here, but after riding that thing for the first time last night -at sunset, no less- I'm rethinking a bit.

After dinner, an acquaintance who works in that OHSU building at the tram's base took 5 of us on a casual tour of his research floor. The building is pretty impressive in it's efficiency, both in energy and space. It seemed well designed and yet 'lean and mean'.

That's exactly how I'd describe the tram structure itself, too. Simple, and yet it was something to behold. I think much of this gets lost because the rest of that area feels so rushed and incomplete. Plus, I'm still leery of what all that torn up soil contains.

Nevertheless, tram staffers were extremely friendly and did their jobs well. Our OHSU talked to them privately and they gave us free passes. As for the view, I was amazed and surprised... it's like a new view of Portland and the surrounding hills, on up into Washington. We even saw Mt. Adams faintly.

Our car contained 15 or so people each way... by no means empty at 9pm. At sunset, the ride was quiet and hushed... at the observation deck at the upper landing, it was equally tranquil. A cool night breeze, looking out over a view and perspective not available until before. You can get a peek now and then on Terwilliger, but not 270 degrees looking out over the city, the buttes, St. Helens, Hood, the river, etc. I just felt grateful I grew up here...

I believe cynicism may be well deserved in some respects, but I dare you to ride the tram and not feel glad it's there, even if it's only for a second.

"I believe cynicism may be well deserved in some respects, but I dare you to ride the tram and not feel glad it's there"

Umm, have you tried parking on Terwilliger below the campus? Same view, $70M cheaper.

Other point, if its so popular, they have to give away rides on the weekend?

Steve, I'm sorry... I've seen both views and they are not the same. Peering through tall fir trees and soaring above them brings two obviously different results...

TK: In your group, five people were given "free rides" while they should be paying. Being with a OHSU employee shouldn't warrant a free ride. And I know of many examples similar to yours where tram attendants have given "free rides" while not employees or patients at OHSU. Like myself and a group of 16. Now, how does this fact relate to the census count to determine the ratio that is to be paid by the taxpayers vs. OHSU for the operation of the tram? It would figure that the actual count would favor OHSU-the ratio comps aren't valid if so many rides are put into the "free category-they should be assigned to one or the other.

Beside, think of all the lost revenue that should go to maintenance or debt service.

I believe cynicism may be well deserved in some respects, but I dare you to ride the tram and not feel glad it's there, even if it's only for a second.

Ok, I took a ride too, and I agree, the view is nice. But thats not what it was built for. It was built as a way to get doctors & patients from offices to the hospital. Well, there arent any offices at the bottom, there is a health club. Its a frivolous expense at best, a fancy amusement park ride, nothing more. And $4 per ride? Please.
As for the people riding it...when I was on it, there were 15-16 people each way too. All tourists except for one doctor on the way back down.
Im not glad its there. Im sad its there...

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