The North South Line (NS Line) is a streetcar service in Portland, Oregon, United States, that runs as part of the Portland Streetcar system. Operated by Portland Streetcar, Inc. and TriMet, it travels approximately 4.1 miles (6.6 km) per direction between Northwest 23rd & Marshall and Southwest Lowell & Bond, serving 39 stations. The line connects Portland's Northwest District, Pearl District, downtown, Portland State University (PSU), and South Waterfront. It runs every day of the week between 15 and 18 hours per day, operating on headways of 15 to 20 minutes. The NS Line is the busiest of Portland's three streetcar routes; it carried an average of 8,751 weekday riders in September 2018.
|North South Line|
|Owner||City of Portland|
|Locale||Portland, Oregon, U.S.|
|Termini||Northwest 23rd & Marshall (north)|
Southwest Lowell & Bond (south)
|Daily ridership||8,751 (as of September 2018[update])|
|Opened||July 20, 2001|
|Line length||4.1 mi (6.6 km)[a]|
|Character||At-grade, mixed between street running and exclusive lane|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Electrification||750 V DC, overhead catenary|
The restoration of streetcar service, which last operated in Portland in 1950, began with the efforts of a citizen advisory committee in 1990. After nearly a decade of planning, construction began in 1999. With the opening of its first 2.4-mile (3.9 km) segment in 2001, it became the inaugural line of the Portland Streetcar system, as well as the first second-generation streetcar service in the United States, owing to its use of modern vehicles. The line has since been extended to RiverPlace and the South Waterfront, increasing its length to 4.1 miles (6.6 km). Having previously had no distinct route name, it was designated the North South Line in September 2012, with the opening of the system's second service, the Central Loop Line, which was later re-branded the Loop Service.
Planning for the restoration of streetcar services in downtown Portland, which had ceased operation in 1950, was considered as early as the 1970s, when businessman and philanthropist Bill Naito led an effort to convince downtown property owners to help build a vintage trolley line. In response to recommendations to develop a streetcar network by Portland's 1988 Central City Plan, a citizen-led advisory committee was established in 1990; they convinced the city to the conduct a feasibility study. Early plans envisioned three lines, with the first line running up from John's Landing near the South Waterfront through downtown Portland to Northwest 23rd Avenue in the Nob Hill District. This proposed line, initially referred to as the Central City Trolley, was predicted to run replicas of cars that once served Council Crest.
Project supporters and planners later renamed this the Central City Streetcar, after opting instead to employ modern, low-floor trams in the hopes that it would be seen as a transportation system rather than a tourist attraction. Several alternative routes were considered in downtown Portland including the Portland Transit Mall on 5th and 6th avenues, and Park and 9th avenues. Both routes were rejected by nearby neighborhood associations. In January 1994, the Portland City Council adopted a route between Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center on Northwest 23rd Avenue and PSU via 10th and 11th avenues, and the following year, called for bids to design, build, and operate the proposed service. The nonprofit Portland Streetcar, Inc., which consisted of leaders from the city's businesses and public institutions, was the only firm to respond to the bid request.
Funding and constructionEdit
The city council authorized the streetcar project in July 1997. The price for building the line was $56.9 million (equivalent to $80.1 million in 2019 dollars). The city paid most of the cost and other local sources covered much of the remaining funds. City parking bonds provided most of the city's contribution of $28.6 million. In September 1998, the city council created a local improvement district to collect funding from properties situated within two blocks of the streetcar alignment, which contributed $9.6 million. Following the defeat of TriMet's South–North Line in a regional ballot measure on November 3, 1998, the Portland Development Commission allotted $7.5 million in tax increment funds from the South Park Blocks urban renewal area. They were used to extend the streetcar route through the PSU Campus to Southwest 5th Avenue. Only $5 million came from the Federal Transit Administration for construction; it was reallocated from TriMet to the city in exchange for a system allowing TriMet buses to trigger green lights at traffic signals. Procurement and installation of tracks and wiring, and the construction of a maintenance barn beneath the Fremont Bridge were estimated at $28.2 million and $4 million, respectively. In 1999, Czech firm Škoda was selected to provide the line's first five streetcars, which were valued at $12 million. The streetcar order was expanded to seven in 2001 to provide enough cars to serve a planned future extension from PSU to RiverPlace.
Construction of the Central City Streetcar line began on April 5, 1999, marked by a groundbreaking ceremony. Crews from Stacy and Witbeck commenced utilities relocation work along Northwest Lovejoy Street that same day, followed by relocation work on 10th and 11th avenues in June. Track-laying took place a week after the start of roadway demolition and progressed gradually southward through downtown. Workers reached the PSU campus in June 2000, by which time university officials resolved the alignment of the tracks, putting the northbound segment diagonally though the newly built Urban Plaza and the southbound segment through the northern end of the campus. The 7,800-square-foot (720 m2) maintenance facility, which would house the streetcars, was 90 percent complete by August. Line testing commenced in January 2001, using one of two replica-vintage trolleys that would be transferred from TriMet's Portland Vintage Trolley operation for planned weekend use on the new streetcar line.
The line's completion, initially targeted for February, was pushed back to May owing to delays in pole and power line installation. Additionally, the delivery of the first streetcar, which had been expected in late February, was delayed by six months by the acquisition of a line-of-credit deal, which had been established as a form of insurance in the event the cars did not work out. The first car finally arrived in April, coinciding with the line's full-length electrification.
Opening and later extensionsEdit
The first 2.4 miles (3.9 km) of the Portland Streetcar, which ran between Northwest 23rd Avenue and the PSU campus, opened on July 20, 2001. The line was notably the first "second-generation streetcar" system in the United States and Portland's first new streetcar service in fifty years. Opening day celebrations were held at various points along the line and free rides were offered for three days. Four streetcars initially operated on weekdays, while three streetcars and one vintage trolley ran on weekends. The streetcar recorded 6,000 to 8,000 daily riders by September 2001, exceeding 1996 projections of between 2,700 and 4,700 riders per day.
In 2004, construction began to extend the line 0.6 miles (0.97 km) south of PSU to RiverPlace. This extension cost $16 million and began service on March 11, 2005. It included a short length of two-way, single-track operation, about 100 yards (91 m) in length along Southwest Montgomery Street and 4th Avenue, equipped with signals for the streetcars to ensure that only one direction is in use at any given time. This segment also includes the steepest grade on the system, 8.75% in the block of Southwest Harrison Street between 1st and 2nd avenues.
Another extension of 0.6 miles (0.97 km) south to the lower terminus of the Portland Aerial Tram at Southwest Gibbs Street in the South Waterfront opened on a temporary ballasted track on October 20, 2006. It was initially a bidirectional single track, operating on a right-of-way acquired from the Willamette Shore Trolley, a heritage streetcar that continues to operate between Portland and Lake Oswego. On November 3, 2011, the streetcar line began using new double-track on a realigned section of Moody Avenue, which was built as part of the $66 million Moody multimodal project. Two stops—OHSU Plaza and Southwest Moody & Gibbs—were built directly adjacent to the entrance to the Portland Aerial Tram, linking the lower campus of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) to its campus atop Marquam Hill. These stations received a connection to the Lair Hill neighborhood that was otherwise cut off by Interstate 5 (I-5) with the opening of the Gibbs Street Pedestrian Bridge on July 14, 2012.
On August 17, 2007, an extension of the line south of Gibbs Street to Southwest Lowell and Bond opened to better serve the South Waterfront district. This 0.46-mile (0.7 km) extension is a 10-block loop, from Southwest Moody and Gibbs proceeding south on Moody Avenue, east on Lowell Street and north on Bond Avenue to OHSU Plaza at Gibbs. This final extension of the line cost $14.45 million. The extensions collectively increased the one-way length of the line to 4.06 miles (6.53 km).[a]
Until 2012, the north–south streetcar line had no route name, being referred to only as the Portland Streetcar line, because it was the only line in the system. However, with the opening of the system's second line on September 22, 2012, the original line was designated the North South Line (abbreviated as NS Line) to distinguish it from the newly built Central Loop line (CL Line), later renamed Loop Service.
The NS Line runs for approximately 18 hours per day on weekdays, 16 hours on Saturdays, and 15 hours on Sundays. During weekdays, NS Line trains begin service at 5:45 am heading southbound from Northwest 23rd & Marshall station; the first northbound train departs Southwest Lowell & Bond station at around 6:27 am. Service begins later on weekends at approximately 7:24 am. End-to-end travel takes approximately 35 minutes. Headways run from as short as fifteen minutes between 10:00 am and 7:00 pm on weekdays and Saturdays to a maximum of 20 minutes for all other times. The final southbound train to run the full length of the line on weekdays departs from the northern end at 10:30 pm while the final northbound train departs the southern end at 11:15 pm. The last five trains on weekdays and Saturdays travel southbound from Northwest 23rd & Marshall and terminate at Northwest 18th & Lovejoy, with the last train arriving at 11:53 pm. On Sundays, service ceases earlier at 11:07 pm.
The NS Line is the busiest streetcar route, averaging 8,751 riders on weekdays in September 2018, which is slightly higher than the 8,307 recorded for the same month in 2017. The Portland Streetcar achieved a new system-wide record for average weekday ridership in April 2018, with the NS Line carrying 9,226 passengers.
The NS Line is approximately 4.1 miles (6.6 km) long.: 17 [a] Its northern terminus is Northwest 23rd & Marshall station in the Northwest District, which is situated on a turning loop near the intersection of Northwest 23rd Avenue and Northwest Marshall Street. Between Northwest 23rd and 10th avenues, the streetcar alignment follows an east–west direction and is split between Northwest Northrup and Lovejoy streets, where cars travel northbound and southbound, respectively. On Northwest 15th and 16th avenues, the line runs beneath Interstate 405 (I-405), passing the system's maintenance barn. It turns south on Northwest 10th and 11th avenues in the Pearl District and is joined by cars serving the Loop Service. On this segment, trains travel northbound on 10th Avenue and southbound on 11th Avenue, passing The Armory and Powell's City of Books. The line enters Southwest Portland and upon traversing West Burnside Street. It crosses the Blue Line and Red Line tracks of MAX Light Rail on Southwest Morrison and Yamhill streets. Just north of the PSU campus, the southbound alignment turns east onto Southwest Market Street and south onto Southwest 5th Avenue, while the northbound segment turns east onto Southwest Mill Street and travels diagonally through PSU's Urban Plaza.
The NS Line includes a short section of bidirectional single-track, about 100 feet (30 m) long, on Southwest Montgomery Street just east of Southwest 5th Avenue before the line turns south onto Southwest 4th Avenue. The section along the latter street was also single-track originally, until being doubled in 2014. The line travels for one block along 4th before turning onto Southwest Harrison Street. The line enters RiverPlace via Southwest River Parkway where it turns south onto Southwest Moody Avenue, running beneath the I-5 and I-405 interchange. After passing the OHSU Robertson Life Sciences Building, it crosses the MAX Orange Line tracks, which are joined by the Loop Service alignment for the Tilikum Crossing. The NS Line continues southward, traveling under the Ross Island Bridge as its northbound tracks split eastward onto Southwest Bond Avenue between the lower terminal of the Portland Aerial Tram and the OHSU Center for Health & Healing. The tracks proceed southward and join at the Southwest Lowell Street turning loop, which is occupied by the line's southern terminus, Southwest Lowell & Bond station.
The NS Line serves 39 stations, of which 24 are shared with the Loop Service. Each platform is equipped with a ticket vending machine, real-time display system, and line information signs. All stations are accessible to users with limited mobility. Connections to MAX Light Rail are available at five stops across the line and a connection to the Portland Aerial Tram, which links the South Waterfront and Marquam Hill campuses of OHSU, can be made at the Southwest Moody & Gibbs and OHSU Plaza stations.
In February 2016, four stations—Northwest 10th & Everett, Northwest 11th & Everett, Southwest 10th & Stark, and Southwest 1st & Harrison—were temporarily closed as part of a trial run to speed up travel times, particularly at stops that were prone to vehicular collisions. The following month, Portland Streetcar made the closures permanent, having reduced travel time through downtown by two minutes. Some decommissioned platforms were later converted into Biketown stations.
|Station||Neighborhood||Connections and notes|
|—||Northwest 23rd & Marshall†||Northwest/
|Serves Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center|
|Northwest 22nd & Northrup||Northwest 22nd & Lovejoy|
|Northwest 21st & Northrup||Northwest 21st & Lovejoy|
|Northwest 18th & Northrup||Northwest 18th & Lovejoy||—|
|Northwest 14th & Northrup||Northwest 13th & Lovejoy||Pearl District||—|
|Northwest 12th & Northrup||—||—|
|Northwest 10th & Northrup||—||Loop|
|Northwest 10th & Johnson||Northwest 11th & Johnson||Loops,|
|Northwest 10th & Glisan||Northwest 11th & Glisan|
|Northwest 10th & Couch||Northwest 11th & Couch||Loops, |
Serves The Armory, Powell's City of Books
|Southwest 10th & Alder||Southwest 11th & Alder||Downtown||Loops,|
|Central Library||Southwest 11th & Taylor||Loops; Library and Galleria stations: Blue, Red lines, |
Serves Central Library
|Art Museum||Southwest 11th & Jefferson||Loops, |
Serves Portland Art Museum
|Southwest 10th & Clay||Southwest 11th & Clay||Loops,|
|Southwest Park & Mill||Southwest Park & Market||Loops, |
Serves South Park Blocks
|—||Southwest 5th & Market||Loop |
Serves Portland State University
|PSU Urban Center||Southwest 5th & Montgomery||Loops; PSU Urban Center stations: Green, Orange, Yellow lines, |
Serves Portland State University
|Southwest 3rd & Harrison||Loops,|
|Southwest Harrison Street||Loops, |
|Southwest River Parkway & Moody|
|Southwest Moody & Meade||South Waterfront||Loops; South Waterfront/Southwest Moody station: Orange Line, |
Serves OHSU Robertson Life Sciences Building, Tilikum Crossing
|OHSU Plaza||Southwest Moody & Gibbs|| Portland Aerial Tram|
Serves OHSU Center for Health & Healing
|Southwest Bond & Lane||Southwest Moody & Gaines||—|
|Southwest Lowell & Bond†||—||—|
Former Vintage Trolley serviceEdit
From 2001 to 2005, Portland Vintage Trolley service operated on the NS Line on most weekends. Of four replica 1904 Brill streetcars owned by TriMet and in use on the MAX Light Rail system between 1991 and 2014, two were transferred to the city for use on the Portland Streetcar line. The service operated on Saturdays and Sundays, using one car at a time, from approximately 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, on regularly scheduled trips that otherwise would be operated by a modern Škoda car. They were non-wheelchair accessible.
Vintage Trolley service on the Portland Streetcar was temporarily suspended near the end of November 2005, in part due to maintenance problems with the two cars, and because the opening of the extension from PSU to RiverPlace in March 2005 caused operations difficulties with the faux-vintage trolley cars. The Vintage Trolley service, which resumed in May 2005 after a five-month suspension for repair work on the two cars, continued to end at PSU, not serving the section to RiverPlace. The late-2005 suspension eventually became permanent; the two Vintage Trolley cars were transferred back to TriMet, which transferred them over to the Willamette Shore Trolley in 2013.
- "About Us, Employment Opportunities". Portland Streetcar, Inc. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- "Portland Streetcar Ridership Counts, July 2015 - Present (By Fiscal Year)" (PDF). Portland Streetcar, Inc. September 2018. p. 1. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- "About us, Meet Streetcar". Portland Streetcar, Inc. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- "Portland Streetcar North/South Line (NS) Route Description". TriMet. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
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- Stewart, Bill (October 25, 1999). "Downtown drivers face a maze of barricades". The Oregonian. p. E1.
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- Stewart, Bill (August 2, 2000). "New barn for Portland Streetcar is a bit off track". The Oregonian. p. B3.
- Jensen, Roger (January 15, 2001). "Getting on track". The Oregonian. p. B1.
- "Systems News". Tramways & Urban Transit. Ian Allan Publishing/Light Rail Transit Association. March 2001. p. 111. ISSN 1460-8324.
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The reincarnation of the streetcar began in the U.S. with the 2001 opening of the Portland Streetcar. This 'second generation' system emulates, in many ways, the operational model of the original streetcars — drawing power from an overhead wire, sharing space with vehicles, and stopping every block or two — but uses a sleek, modern train with ADA-accessible, low-floor boarding.
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- Wojahn, Brent (October 1, 2004). "Extending the tracks". The Oregonian. p. E2.
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- Tramways & Urban Transit, August 2013, p. 352. UK: LRTA Publishing. ISSN 1460-8324
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- Francis, Jamie (October 21, 2006). "Whisked away by music. Streetcar extends to South Waterfront". The Oregonian. p. E1.
- "Worldwide Review [regular news section]". Tramways & Urban Transit. Light Rail Transit Association/LRTA Publishing. January 2012. p. 32. ISSN 1460-8324.
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- Tramways & Urban Transit, July 2012, p. 276. UK: LRTA Publishing. ISSN 1460-8324
- NS Line schedules:
- "NS Line – To NW 23rd Avenue: Weekday Schedule" (PDF). Portland Streetcar, Inc. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- "NS Line – To NW 23rd Avenue: Saturday Schedule" (PDF). Portland Streetcar, Inc. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- "NS Line – To NW 23rd Avenue: Sunday Schedule" (PDF). Portland Streetcar, Inc. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- "NS Line – To South Waterfront: Weekday Schedule" (PDF). Portland Streetcar, Inc. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- "NS Line – To South Waterfront: Saturday Schedule" (PDF). Portland Streetcar, Inc. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- "NS Line – To South Waterfront: Sunday Schedule" (PDF). Portland Streetcar, Inc. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- "Portland Streetcar sees record ridership in April". Portland Streetcar, Inc. May 15, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
- Streetcar Loop Project Before-and-After Study (2016) (PDF) (Report). Federal Transit Administration. 2016. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
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- Google (June 6, 2019). "Powell's City of Books" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
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- "Portland double-track is brought into use". Tramways & Urban Transit. UK: LRTA Publishing. November 2014. p. 454. ISSN 1460-8324.
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- "Directions". Doppelmayr USA. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
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Brill replica tram 513 entered service on the Willamette Shore Trolley line at the beginning of the 2018 season. ... This was its first time carrying passengers since 2005, when Vintage Trolley service on the Portland Streetcar line ended.
- Thompson, Richard (2015). Slabtown Streetcars. Arcadia Publishing. p. 115. ISBN 978-1-4671-3355-5.
- "Portland Streetcar Map and Schedules". Portland Streetcar, Inc.