Reality’s often a bitch, so before it happens in Anaheim, here’s a sobering news account from the lefty paper in Portland, Oregon: Streetcar takes another hit with lower-than-expected fare revenue.
Among light rail and urban transit fans, Portland’s considered the poster child for this mega-expensive 19th Century transit technology that breeds traffic congestion. In part, the Oregonian wrote:
…the streetcar is collecting about half the amount of cash in fares as originally projected. This would be a problem no matter the time, but the smaller-than-expected revenue comes as City Council members are digging into bureau budgets trying to find ways to fix Portland’s $25 million budget shortfall. Initially, the Portland Bureau of Transportation had projected the streetcar fares would bring in about $1 million annually — or 11 percent of the $8.9 million operating budget. However, since mid-September, “the fare box revenue are taking in about 55 percent of what had been expected by this time,” according to the analysis.
Transit expert Randal O’Toole, who lives in the Portland area, had this to say about this latest issue:
…we do know that the fares collected since September…are only half as much as predicted. That means the city of Portland, which has promised to make up for streetcar operating deficits, is on the hook for more than expected–not that it expected much as the predicted fares were expected to only cover 11 percent of the streetcar’s $9 million annual operating cost. Are revenues lower because they aren’t enforcing the new fares? Or because new fares have led people to try faster modes of travel, such as walking? Or possibly is it because the streetcar has fewer riders than claimed? We know the city’s second streetcar line, which also opened last year, has earned the name ghost train because of how few people ride it. Whatever the results about the streetcar, Portland continues to demonstrate the old adage that you can tell when transit agency executives are lying by whether their lips are moving.
This is the same ancient technology that a majority of the Anaheim City Council has voted to implement as a huge favor to the Disney Company to move their guests between Harbor Blvd. and the new ARTIC train station that Curt Pringle and friends are building to receive Jerry Brown’s Bullet Train that’s about to be defunded by some suddenly fiscally-responsible Republicans. Put another way, it ain’t coming.
Anaheim also takes a great deal of pride that the $319 million street crawler won’t be costing them a dime — so far, the funds have come from OCTA’s Measure M, and never a cent will be used from the City’s General Fund or, apparently, Mickey’s coffers. The cost’s all on Orange County and the Feds, they think. The union-funded Voice of OC nailed Disney and Mouse-fluffer Kris Murray earlier this week: Disney Expansion Is Reason for $319-Million Streetcar Proposal.
Unfortunately as all these potential sources of money to build this boondoggle begin to dry up, Anaheim will have to just envy how Irvine got away with building a similar transit system that no one over there rides either.