Sunday, November 18, 2007

portland streetcar by Rick Seifert

By Rick Seifert

I rode the Portland Streetcar today to get to and from :an all-day eye appointment. The trolley ride seemed as interminable as the appointment (six ocular pressure tests spaced 90 minutes apart).

Trolley operators, unlike exposed TriMet bus drivers, ~ hermetically sealed in their forward cockpits, kind of like terrorist-plagued airplane pilots. A sign near the door (is it locked?) invites you to talk to them, but not while the trolley is moving. What are you supposed to do, knock on the door? Bring a crowbar?

"Hello? Hell-OOO?"


It's all so uninviting, I've never thought to ask a ques-

tl,9n. But if! had to, I'm told there is a blue button to push o;er by the door to activate an intercom. There's also a yellow one for terrorist attacks and other emergencies.

How different the intra-trolley corp.munication is com­ .pared with TriMet. I've listened to TriMet bus drivers conduct entire' therapy sessions for mildly deranged pas­ sengers. How they do this and merge with traffic is beyond me.

So I was surprised today when the trolley driver actually flicked on his intercom switch and spoke to us. The trolley was stuck in. traffic on Lovejoy, arid the driver recom­ mended getting out and w~ng.

As Dave Barrywould say, I am not making this up.

He informed us that earlier in the rush hour he had been stuck in Lovejoy congestion for 15 minutes. He also warned that this would be our last opportunity to leave the stuffy Car while it was in gridlock. About 20 of us got out and walked. It felt good.

But it wasn't the traffic or stale air that made me want to get off: It was the syrupy recorded voice telling me that the trolley stops were sponsored by ... what? a realtor, a brewery, a condominium, a hospital, the PSU Viking

football team.


No comments: