Farewell, Streetcar CAC

Today’s Portland Streetcar Community Advisory Committee meeting is going to be a bittersweet one. After more than 18 years, today, the CAC will meet formally for the last time.

The city is shaking up a lot of things with community organizations, and unfortunately, the CAC is one of the ones affected. PBOT (Portland Bureau of Transport) has made the decision to start their own advisory committee, making the Streetcar CAC redundant. Streetcar after all is part of PBOT.

We’ve known since Summer this would be coming, and now that time has come. There have been talks over the last several months to discuss how the committee can stay involved in the future, and much of this last meeting will be to discuss this.

With three new trains and a new alignment on the way for Streetcar, I think it’s too bad the committee is coming to an end now, having existed since the very beginnings of Streetcar, before service even began. But, I get the reasonings behind the decision, and I think PBOT has been in need of a unified advisory committee for a while now. There are a lot of changes on the horizon for ALL transport in Portland, not just Streetcar.

Portland is a changing city, and city committees need to change with it. It’s been an awesome two years, one of which I was honored to be a formal committee member, and I hope the committee can continue to play a role in shaping the future of the US’ first modern Streetcar system as it has now for over 18 years, even if we won’t be meeting regularly.

If you told me while I was still in Melbourne, falling in love with public transport, that I’d get to play a very real part in shaping an actual transit system that has served as a model for others in the US, I may not have believed you. From map designs to paint colors for the new trains, the committee got to play a role.

It’s crazy to think that just five years ago public transport was something I was still taking for granted, knowing absolutely nothing about the insanely (yet beautifully) complex operations that go on behind the scenes on a daily basis. Every day, there are literally hundreds of people behind the scenes working to make sure any trip you take on public transport is uneventful, even if you just go one stop, so thank your operator the next time you get off that bus or train. They have one of the hardest jobs in the world; they just make it look easy.

So while this may be the formal end of the CAC, I’ll totally be applying to PBOT’s new committee, and look forward to new opportunities to staying involved with Streetcar.

To the entire staff at Portland Streetcar Inc, PBOT, TriMet, and my fellow committee members, thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with you all these past two years.

See you on the main line.

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