Ask almost anyone into transportation issues which City in the country is the most enlightened and progressive when it comes to transportation infrastructure and I’ll bet that 90 percent would say Portland, Oregon.
When it comes to getting around a fairly large city without a car, Portland has it figured out. There’s a light rail system that gets you from town to the outskirts. There’s a delightful streetcar system that’s free in the central part of town … just hop on and hop off. There’s commuter rail for people living in the suburbs.
And there’s plenty of Amtrak service. The Cascades run south to Eugene and north to Seattle and Vancouver several times a day; the Empire Builder will take you to Spokane and on to Chicago; and the Coast Starlight comes through once a day in each direction between the Bay Area and Los Angeles down the coast and Seattle up north.
For those occasions when you do need a car, there are no less than five car-sharing options, including Zipcar and Car2go.
Under construction now is another bridge over the Willamette River. It’s a beauty, too … about a third of a mile long, graceful and quite pleasing to the eye. But here’s what makes this bridge different: no cars!
Yep, the Tilikum Crossing Bridge
is strictly for public transit, specifically light rail, buses and streetcars. And get this: there will also be two 14-foot-wide paths, one for bicycles, the other for pedestrians.
What an enlightened approach! If you ask anyone who lives in Portland to tell you what they like best about their city, you will find that almost without exception they will rave about all the public transportation options available to them. We can only hope that more cities around the country will follow Portland’s example.