Notes on Portland

by Art Lewellan


I have been proposing a trolley-bus system in Portland, Oregon. 3 trolley-bus

studies have been done by Tri-Met in last 25 years, all favorable, but not

implemented. My proposal is called, The LOTi, (Loop Oriented Transit-mall,

Intermodal). LOTi is a "Circulator-Loop-Trunkline", (my definition), serving

our downtown Transit Mall, instead of lightrail. I am finding that the LOTi

trolley-bus has advantages for the Mall. LOTi proposes leaving the South/North

lightrail (2.3 Billion) on the UPRR corridor, from the Rose Quarter to Oregon

City. The savings (400-600 mil) are applied to the LOTi & to 3 additional,

practical, streetcar-scale lightrail lines, serving Portland, Milwaukie &

Clackamastown. LOTi almost doubles the new electric rail trackage, building 4

lightrail lines, AND builds the LOTi circulator for about the same capital

costs. LOTi simply diverts funds away from excessive bridges, underpasses &

property displacements into the more extensive, separate but interconnected,

(intermodal) systems. A very good growth pattern also develops.


LOTi started very small idea as a solution to a serious set of problems.

Alignment decisions for the planned South/North lightrail were not reflecting

public desires. The Oregon City destination was abandoned & replaced with a

shopping center; a "preferred" Williamette River crossing would not serve the

OMSI cultural/entertainment district & existing neighborhoods, instead serve

an entirely new neighborhood development, exclusively; the Transit mall

alignment received failing grades on many counts, by the states citizen-led

transit advocacy organizations. More problems followed: housing displacements

much greater than on our 1st & 2nd MAX lines; significant environmental

impacts to parks & wetlands; final ridership number predictions very much in

doubt. Basically, not a pretty picture. Which is too bad because Portlands'

westside extension of MAX to be inaugurated this September, is a very fine



Somehow practicality got thrown out the window.


In 1995 I suggested leaving the lightrail on the least expensive route: UPRR

corridor, Rose Quarter to Oregon City. It turns out, this route was the 1st to

be supported,studied & briefly rejected, in 1993. But, I had added to this

alignment a streetcar connection to cross the Williamette via the Hawthorne

Bridge, (Portlands' antique streetcars needed a place to operate separate from

existing MAX lines), and service for the Transit Mall with a set of Trolley

buses. These additions should have affected the consideration of the UPRR,

alignment. No alignment decision had as yet been made. No alignment option has

been significanly altered in the following 3 years. LOTi has never been

thoroughly analyzed despite my ongoing efforts to convince the city & regional

agencies of the merits of the LOTi configuration.


So, with this germ of an idea, I set out to prove my point by doing the

entire, regions' transportation "growth pattern" plans based upon the LOTi

proposal. LOTi has evolved into 6 LRT lines, 8 Streetcar lines & 10 Trolley-

bus lines, all on previously studied, or historical routes with some

modifications. This was lengthy & began with streetcar expansion that went

from ambitious to practical, complimenting future track extension plans of

Portland Streetcar enthusiasts who have laid out the Central City Streetcar

plan. Finally, the trolley-bus line growth pattern revealed the unique design

that I call the LOTi "Loop Circulator Trunkline", (an inner loop of 2-4 minute

frequency with outer extensions of 5 minute frequencies). I conclude that the

LOTi Loop can remove 4X the number of diesel buses from the Mall as lightrail,

or, for every trolley-bus, 3 diesel are removed.


I've developed a lengthy list of benefits that include tripling the area of

"preservative" redevelopment potential while minimizing displacements of homes

& businesses & construction of over-zealous bridges & underpasses. The LOTi

Loop is a low-cost, ideal application of trolley-bus technology, or so I am

convinced. And the LOTi proposal, may indeed be one of the finest transit

proposals we've ever seen.


LOTi is an acronym: "Loop Oriented Transit-mall, Intermodal", (or "Loop

Oriented Transit, Intermodal". Loti has a lotta loops). LOTi was,

unfortunately, not able to win the confidence of the citizen-led, transit

advocacy organizations, led by AORTA, (Asso Oregon Rail & Transit Advocates).

They have a "viable" alternate alignment proposal, but it does not offer

improvements to Portland's Transit Mall, does less for the East Portland,

where 75% of the residents live, & nothing to assure the success of the

Central City Streetcar, (which, I think, is a very remarkable project,

important & historic in its' own right).


Art Lewellan (503) 238-4075

3205 SE 8th #9

Portland, Oregon 97202