Thursday, 19 November 2015

Research and reality

The two day Portland program has generally confirmed what I researched for the pre-tour report, especially in terms of governance. The presentations over the last two days, have made constant reference to the uniqueness of Portland, especially in regards to its planning including the urban growth boundary, the commissioner form of city government, the significance of the Statewide Land Use Planning Goals and the alternative direction the citizens of Portland chose to go in in regards to development and its effects on the surrounding environment.

Throughout my report I also made substantial reference to the key descriptor of Portland, its award-winning transportation system. Although I agree that the transportation system of Portland is highly innovative and forward thinking in regards to how we should be using transport, my experience of the Portland public transportation is a little disappointing considering how much praise the system receives. Our first night in Portland was an eye-opener in regards to the vulnerability of the transport system where the light rail was significantly delayed due to a storm and the subsequent flooding of the downtown area. This was also discussed during the two day program where Robert Hastings of TriMet agreed that the light rail system has its downfalls. He also provided a possible solution of using bus connections in the place of light rail in heavy weather situations due to their ability to easier navigate the streets and change routes as required. The frequency of the light rail system was also disappointing compared to my expectations with even the newest line, the orange line, operating since September 2015 running at only 15 minute intervals. This perspective is difficult to confirm as reality as I have not yet seen the state of any other American cities and their public transport system. Perhaps the further exploration of comparable American cities throughout the remainder of the study tour will change my perspective.

Kaylee Thompson 

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