Part of our series about issues that matter to transit riders in Portland’s 2012 local elections, a project of Aaron Brown. Blog coverage sponsored by Drive Less Connect, ODOT’s sweet new ride-matching service.
The Portland mayoral primary May 15 looks like anybody’s game. All three leading candidates have an interest in transportation – two of them even said last month that they’d dismiss the city’s sitting transportation director – and all are clearly fans of low-car movement in general.
But they certainly don’t agree on everything that matters to transit riders. Some of their differences, lifted from our low-car voter guide to the mayor’s race:
- Hales would continue to be one of Streetcar’s biggest fans; Smith calls it a lower priority and Brady doesn’t see expansion “in the near future.” Portland Streetcar is Hales’s baby – he was given a lifetime Streetcar pass when he left the city council in 2002 – and Hales told us that after shoring up transit service he’d look forward to streetcar “possibilities all around the compass rose.” Smith ruled it out unless the feds pay the bill, and Brady is against Streetcar expansion, at least for now.
- Brady and Smith are enthusiastic about using tolling to fight congestion; Hales is comfortable with tolling only on new facilities. Congestion tolling matters to transit commuters because it would get them off the hook for the cost of highway expansions that are useful only to rush-hour auto commuters. Though all three candidates support it, Hales doesn’t think it’s a good idea unless it’s used to pay for a recently built project, while the other two suggest it could be useful on any crowded highway. (Also, don’t miss Hales’s interesting solution for funding the new Sellwood Bridge.)
- Brady and Hales get excited about expanding rural bike paths; Smith gets excited about redeveloping urban parking lots. We asked each candidate to name their favorite transit and active transportation facilities. Brady praised the Springwater Trail and called for its continued growth; Hales pitched his vision for a riverbank bike path to Astoria and added another passionate plug for the Streetcar; and Smith said his favorite transit facility is the Gateway Transit Center, for its “tremendous untapped opportunity.”
And that’s a wrap for our 2012 low-car voter’s guide. We plan to update it occasionally during the general election, adding links to other coverage when appropriate, but the project is mostly done. Check out our other summaries of each race:
- the Metro race for North, Northwest, downtown and inner Northeast Portland
- the Metro race for inner Southeast and Southwest Portland
- the city council race for Commissioner Position 1
- the city council race for Commissioner Position 4
…and don’t forget to vote by May 15.