Since the advent of Oregon’s first light rail line in 1986, Portland has become a hotbed of electric traction. Tri-Met, Portland’s public transit agency, now operates five light rail lines with modern, low-floor equipment. But that’s not all. The organization also operates a suburban feeder DMU service with modern, self-propelled railcars. Another operator, Portland Streetcar, runs an electric trolley line through the city which has been extended several times since its inauguration in 2001. Add to that a historic streetcar line that connects the end of the trolley with Lake Oswego, a trolley museum outside the city in the town of Brooks, and the only streetcar manufacturing plant in the U.S., and you have the ingredients for an excellent convention.
Our convention headquarters will be the Courtyard Portland City Center, a Marriott hotel in downtown Portland, at 550 SW Oak Street. It is very convenient to all of Portland’s electric railway attractions, being located along the city’s Transit Mall, between 5th and 6th Avenues. MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) light rail cars began operating through the mall only last year.
The City Center hotel is easily reachable from both Portland Union Station and Portland International Airport… by riding light rail! This full-service hotel offers a restaurant and a health and fitness center.
Single, double and twin accommodations are priced at only $89 plus tax per evening. Our annual movie/slideshow and banquet will be held on the premises. To avoid missing a single convention activity, plan to arrive in Portland no later than noon on Friday, September 3. Portland’s Tri-Met offers unlimited ride tickets, so remember to buy one from a vending machine upon your arrival, especially if you wish to attend our first event on Friday afternoon.
Our first event is a do-it-yourself ride on Tri-Met’s new DMU commuter line, WES (West Side Express Service). WES’s diesel multiple unit trains, built by Colorado Railcar, operate over the Portland & Western Railroad every 30 minutes during weekday peak periods, from Beaverton to Wilsonville, starting at 4:05 PM. The shop servicing the DMU cars is located adjacent to the Wilsonville terminal at the outer end of the line. Tri-Met recently purchased two RDCs from the Alaska Railroad, and these rail diesel cars should be available to our group for inspection and photography. With a 30-minute running time over the 15-mile line, it is suggested you ride either the 4:05 or 4:35 PM train from Beaverton to Wilsonville, from where you will be escorted to the shop. Your day pass is good on these trains, but remember, it’s your job to get to the Beaverton Transit Center on time. From downtown ride the Blue line toward Hillsboro or the Red line toward Beaverton. It will take about 21 minutes to make the trip from Pioneer Square. Return service from Wilsonville to Beaverton operates every 30 minutes until 6:58 PM.
We will meet at 7:30 PM for our annual slide/movie show. Mark Kavanagh, an ERA member who lives in the area, has arranged for a program of historic views of traction in Portland and the Pacific Northwest ranging from its beginnings to its decline and its rebirth and new golden era in the last three decades. You will also have an opportunity to meet local traction enthusiasts and reacquaint yourself with other ERA members. The show will begin at 8:00 PM.
Today is a very busy day as we have to travel long distances to get to both the Oregon Electric Railway Museum in Brooks and the Mount Hood Railroad in Hood River. Our chartered coach(es) will leave the City Center hotel at 8:15 AM Among the streetcars operating at Brooks are a Boeing LRV, Sydney O-class open car 1187 and a Porto Brill-type single-trucker. Perhaps we will also be able to ride Blackpool double-deck car 48. After visiting the operating museum for about 2 hours, we will travel to Hood River, stopping for lunch along the way. The equipment to be used for our train ride, from Hood River to Odell on the scenic Mount Hood Railroad, includes an col-sm-6-Santa Fe dome car. We are offering tickets on the upper level of the full-length dome for an additional $10. Seats are limited and tickets will be sold on a first come, first served basis. We should arrive back at our hotel around 6:30 PM.
Many oldtimers may remember the deck-roof streetcars that connected downtown Portland with the Council Crest neighborhood. In addition to providing necessary transportation, the line was a tourist attraction during the first half of the 20th century. Recognized as such by Tri-Met, the agency had some replica streetcars constructed to commemorate the service. We have arranged for two of these Gomaco-built cars to operate in regular service on the 5th and 6th Avenue Transit Mall during the morning and afternoon. Members of our group will be able to ride either of the cars from Lloyd Center to the transit mall by boarding at the Holladay Park platform just before 10:15 or 10:32 AM The cars will run non-stop from there to the Transit Mall and then make regular stops all day long, or at least until a little after 5 PM. Photographers will be able to take pictures of both cars in both directions along Holladay Street between 10:00 and 10:45 AM, as well as inbound on the Steel Bridge. Participants and the general public may get on and off the vintage cars (and regular LRVs) at stations along the Transit Mall.
Much the day can be used for riding Tri-Met’s large light rail system, or sightseeing on your own. You may reach Lloyd Center aboard a Green Line LRV from the 6th & Pine stop near our hotel. Running time is about 15 minutes. Note that Lloyd Center is the last stop in the Free Rail Zone. You will not need a ticket, but if you wish to spend the rest of the day riding MAX to its outer terminals, you will need to pay the appropriate fares. Thus, it may be advisable to buy a day ticket from one of the vending machines along the Transit Mall. Note that the times given herein are preliminary, so please pay attention to the announcements that will be made at earlier events.
ERA’s Annual Banquet will be held in a private room at our hotel. An hour-long informal reception and cash bar will begin at 7:00 PM, and dinner will follow promptly at 8:00. Our guest speaker will be Alan Lehto, TriMet’s director of project planning, who will present an illustrated program about TriMet’s system development to date, its current projects and, most important, what the future bodes for light rail and streetcars, the highly flexible and successful modes of transit in the Portland area. Alan is an 11-year TriMet veteran and has specialized in new starts.
Today we will have chartered streetcar trips on both the Portland Streetcar (PSI) and the Willamette Shore Trolley (WST). Because the WST is now operating only one car, participants will be split into two groups, with their tickets indicating the specific assigned group. We will use one of the three new Inekon-built cars for the Portland Streetcar trip, which will also include a visit to their shop and storage facilities. The Willamette Shore car is Brill Master Unit 813, built for the Portland Traction Company in 1932. It is propelled by electricity generated by a diesel motor placed on a small flatcar, which it then pulls or pushes along the track. Both groups will cover the entire route of the Portland Streetcar as well as the WST’s scenic line along the Willamette River to Lake Oswego.
The logistics for this trip are a bit complicated, as one group will use regular Portland Streetcar service from 10th and Couch to 14th and Northrup, where they will walk to the shops (between 15th and 16th Streets) for a half-hour tour prior to the charter. The other group will ride regular service in the other direction to the Lowell stop in the South Waterfront area, where they will walk to the nearby terminal of the Willamette Shore. The second group may board a streetcar at 11th and Couch or transfer to one from a Green or Yellow line LRV at its last stop at Portland State University. At the end of the respective charters, the two groups will change places. Unfortunately, the Portland Aerial Tram, located at the South Waterfront terminal of the Streetcar, will not be operating on Labor Day, so those who wish to ride it should do so either on a weekday or on Sunday afternoon (after 1 PM).
Details and exact times will be provided with your tickets, and will be explained at the banquet. Present planning calls for Group 1, which will begin with the shop tour, to ride a regular outbound car with its tour leader from 10th and Couch at 9:30 AM The second group, whose activities will start with the WST charter, will also have a tour leader, and can ride a MAX train from 5th & Oak to the end of the line at Mill Street at about 8:50 AM They will change to a regular PSI car at that point, and ride the 9:17 to Lowell Street, where they will have a short walk to the WST terminal. Confirmation or modification of these times will announced at the banquet.
We will conclude the 2010 Convention by visiting United Streetcar in the Portland suburb of Clackamas. The only manufacturer of modern streetcars in the U.S., United is a subsidiary of the Oregon Iron Works. United has a built a prototype car for Portland Streetcar (which we expect to see) and has recently been awarded the contract to construct six cars for Portland Streetcar’s new East Side Loop line. The railcars use design and technology from Czech carbuilder Skoda, who constructed cars currently operating in Portland and Tacoma. Although it is too early to be sure, we are hopeful that the production line will be in operation during our visit. United has also been awarded the contract to build the cars for the forthcoming line in Tucson, which has just been approved for FTA funding.
Our chartered bus(es) will pick us up at 8:50 AM and will return us to the MAX Gateway station (for those heading to the airport), Union Station and to the hotel, arriving between 12 Noon and 12:30 PM. You may store your belongings in the luggage compartment of your bus.
The Courtyard Portland City Center hotel is located at 550 SW Oak Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues. The closest light rail stations are at 5th and Oak (inbound) and 6th and Pine (outbound) on Tri-Met’s Yellow and Green lines. To reach the City Center hotel from Union Station, ride an inbound Yellow or Green line train two stops to 5th and Oak. Both stations are in the Free Rail Zone, so you may ride at no cost. From Portland International Airport (PDX), ride the Red line to Rose Quarter and then transfer to a Green line train and ride three stops to 5th and Oak. You must buy a ticket if you board at the airport. And you must have a ticket if you plan to ride the WES diesel railcar on Friday.
Tri-Met’s Red and Blue lines stop at Pioneer Square, only a few blocks from the hotel. The Portland Streetcar runs along 10th Avenue (northbound) and 11th Avenue (southbound) with the closest stop being at Couch Street.
Tri-Met tickets are sold at vending machines and are also good on the Portland Streetcar. At press time the all-zone 1-Day Pass is $4.75. A 7-Day Pass is $22.50. A 14-day Senior Citizen Pass is $13.00. Note that for single-ride tickets there are three zones. Portland Streetcar offers a $2.00 all-day pass, which is reduced to 95¢ for seniors. These passes are good only on the streetcar line.
Schedule Times given in this flyer are subject to change. Announcements will be made to update necessary information during ERA events. Timetables for MAX, WES and the Portland Streetcar are available on the internet sites of the respective organizations. Fares shown are those in effect upon the issuing of this flyer.
So come to Portland for our big Labor Day weekend. Ride a large network of light rail, diesel railcars and streetcars in the “Rose City” and tour the only streetcar manufacturing plant in the United States. Join us!