Vintage Trolley, Inc.
115 N. W.
Lewis Fuller, Director of Fun
In the mid-1980s, after the Portland light rail
system was opened, Portland retailers Bill and Sam Naito campaigned for a
vintage trolley line as an adjunct to that system. Because the proposed vintage
trolley line would share a relatively high-speed portion of the light rail line,
four specially reinforced replica cars were built. The line opened in 1991.
The line uses a portion of the Tri-Met light rail
line and runs from downtown Portland across the Willamette River to Lloyd
Center, a major shopping area on the near east side. There are 11 stops, the
route is about two miles in length, and the
line is wheelchair accessible. Four cars are used, and are replicas of old
streetcars once used in Portland (two of which in late 2001 were transferred to
the new Central City Circulator streetcar system). A small storage and light maintenance facility
is located near Lloyd Center, but heavy maintenance is performed at the Tri-Met
light rail shops.
Generally, service is half-hourly, and is daily
from June through December, weekends only from March through June, and is not
provided in January and February. Available “windows” between light rail trains
largely dictate the service frequency. Construction projects of additional light
rail extensions to the airport and the Central City Circulator have caused
further cutbacks in 2000. The line is operated by Tri-Met, using their
employees, and is free for riders.
The system is owned and operated by Tri-Met, which
provides bus and rail transit to the metropolitan area. Vintage Trolley, Inc.
promotes the trolley, acts as a fund-raiser, collects donations and arranges
corporate sponsorships. Fund-raising has been of greater significance since
fares were abolished and ridership increased substantially.
Operating Costs and Funding:
Operating costs are covered by a combination of
public and private sources, with substantial contributions and sponsorships from
the private sector.
Capital Costs and Funding:
The light rail system over which the line operates
was funded primarily from Federal funds. Bill Naito spearheaded successful
formation of a Local Improvement District which financed the local share of a
$2,000,000 Federal grant for the vintage trolley project in 1987.
The vintage trolley is a tourist attraction which
links a number of important venues, and encourages visitors to Portland to
“Enjoy a free ride through the pages of Portland history” as part of their trip
to the Historic District, Lloyd Center, and the scenic Willamette River
System Problems and Issues:
Initially, the major issue was designing replica
vehicles that would be compatible with the light rail line. With the westward
extension of the light rail line, and the steady increase in ridership on that
line, the need for more frequent light rail service has raised concerns that
“operating windows” for the vintage trolley may have to be reduced.