MORE THAN 50000 people jammed the Portland City Streetcar for free rides during the opening weekend, following the formal inauguration on July 20. The 3·8 km L-shaped route connects northwest Portland, the Pearl district and Portland State University campus. Connecting with the region’s MAX light rail routes, the Streetcar is designed to act as a local distributor in the city centre, and to promote ’transit-oriented development’.

Mayor Vera Katz described the $57m project as a ’trek back to the future, where we will give citizens transportation options and bring neighborhoods together.’ Following the speeches, all five Czech-built Astra trams paraded along the line, led by a Brazilian band. Two more cars have been ordered from Skoda/ Inekon for delivery next year, to handle the expected heavy ridership and to work a short extension now being planned.

September 10 will see the opening of the MAX branch from Gateway Transit Center to Portland International Airport. This will be designated the Red line, with through services from the Airport to the city centre every 15min. Tri-Met is to equip two of its LRVs with central luggage stacks for trials on the airport route, before deciding whether to form a dedicated sub-fleet. The Red line will share tracks on the Gateway - Portland section with the east-west Yellow line, and Tri-Met is launching ’kiss-and-ride’ drop-off bays at six light rail stations along the route.