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Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar

Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon          

“It must always be remembered how cost-effectiveness works in the public sector: the cost IS the benefit.” - author unknown

Cost of Trimet Transit


Trimet's Cost Data 

Trimet's Passenger-mile Data




$197,597,326 (Trimet's Data)

236,736,000  (Trimet's Data)


Calculated BUS


$73,537,962  (Trimet's Data)

169,553,280  (Trimet's Data)


Calculated LRT


$271,135,288  (Trimet's Data)

406,289,280  (Trimet's Data)


Calculated SYSTEM

Rail, with construction

$73,537,962 + $115,300,000=$188.9e6

169,553,280   (Trimet's Data)


Calc. LRT with construction

Commuter Rail

$25 per ride

14.7 mile is max. length ride: $25 / 14.7


Max ride =14.7 mi, so this in lowest cost


Lowest cost BUS line in Portland: (Line 33-McLoughlin)


Trimet data: Best BUS

Cost of Cars based on Bureau of Economic Analysis and  Federal Highway Administration's Highway Statistics

Mode & Data Source

User-operated transportation (2005)(line 69)

Person Miles of Travel  (2005) Table VM1

Car (BEA)

(divide this)  $988.2e9

(by this)   4,884,557e6 person-miles (to get ->)


Calculated CAR cost per passenger-mile

Average people per car= 1.634 nationally, about 1.3 in Portland. Apply 1.634/1.3 factor to $0.202=


Calculated CAR adjusted for Portland

User-operated transportation (2005 - line 69)

Total Rural and Urban miles (2005 -Table VM1

Car (BEA)

(divide this) $988.2e9

(by this) 2,989,807e6 vehicle miles (to get ->)

$0.3305 (veh.-mi.)

Calculated CAR Cost/vehicle-mile

Average passengers per vehicle = 4,884,557e6 / 2,989,807e6 = 1.634

Car (AAA)

AAA’s calculations assume new cars; 15,000 mi/yr; maximum finance cost, yearly new tires, etc

$0.522 (veh.-mi.)

AAA CAR Cost per vehicle-mile

Car (AAA)

Divide by Average passengers per vehicle (1.634 ) to get Cost per passenger-mile: 0.522 / 1.634


Calculated AAA CAR

Cost of Portland Streetcar  data from PortlandStreetcar.org

Total Annual Cost

Total Annual riders; Average ride length


$3.3e5 (including Riverplace)

2.636e6 (sum of all rides fall05-summer06)


Our Calculated Streetcar Cost/ride

Each ride is 3/4 mile per Charlie Hales at PSC

$1.25 / 0.75 = $1.67


Our Calculated Streetcar Cost/passenger-mile

Cost of Taxi Fare in portland (for trip length same as average LRT trip - 5.2 mile)

Costs $2.50 to board + $2.10/mile. Each Additional Passenger is $1.00---5.2 mile trip=$13.42


one person, per pass.-mile

1.6 people, 5.2 mile trip=$15.32


1.6 people, per pass.-mile

2 people, 5.2 mile trip=$14.32


two people, per pass.-mile

3 people, 5.2 mile trip=$15.32


three people, per pass.-mile

additional data: Ave bus trip length = 3.75 (236736 / 63,129) mile

fare =  $1.70 2hr; $2.47/day (monthly pass) (2 zone).


The Trimet costs and Car (BEA) costs are based of REAL costs and REAL miles, unlike AAA which is theoretical.

Light rail has massive construction costs which are ignored in the above (and ignored by Trimet's busmaxstat.pdf ) except as noted

The cost of roads is mostly included in the cost of driving due to taxes and fees being included.

Line 69 is the sum of lines 70-77 and includes most (all?) driving related expenses.

Details - click on links to see original documents