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News Release: The Portland Tram turns 10! Elected leaders, OHSU officials and community members celebrate the Portland transportation icon's 10th Anniversary

Portland Tram

News Release: 

The Portland Tram turns 10! Elected leaders, OHSU officials and community members celebrate the Portland transportation icon's 10th Anniversary

(Jan. 27, 2017) U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer joined Mayor Ted Wheeler, Transportation Commissioner Dan Saltzman, former U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley, officials with Oregon Health & Science University and Doppelmayr USA and community members to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Portland Aerial Tram.

Since it launched Jan. 28, 2007, the tram has been a catalyst for the local economy by enabling the growth of housing and bioscience jobs on a former brownfield site. The tram provides an essential public transit link between OHSU’s Marquam Hill and South Waterfront campuses.

“The Portland Aerial Tram is the quintessential example of the private and public sector working together to build a vibrant, livable community,” Blumenauer said. “Thanks to the tram, Portland has added thousands of jobs and created a world-class bioscience education hub with OHSU. The tram has been essential to the transformation of South Waterfront into a vibrant, livable community where people can live without a car because they can walk, bike, or go by streetcar or tram.”

Before the tram was opened, the South Waterfront area was a little used industrial area, cut off from the rest of the region by Interstate 5.

“The Portland Aerial Tram has become an iconic symbol of our city’s long tradition of transportation innovation,” Wheeler said. “It has made our economy stronger by helping us grow the downtown area and grow the bioscience jobs and talent of the future. This anniversary offers all Portlanders a chance to reflect on what a tremendous accomplishment it was to build the tram and how much it has done for Portland.”

Since opening, the tram has provided 16 million trips, with about 9,500 trips a day on an average weekday.

“The tram has become vital to Portland’s transportation system,” said Saltzman, who oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “It has provided millions of trips in the last decade. In the recent snow and ice storms, the tram was the only link in the region’s transportation system that did not suffer any service disruptions. In fact, the tram expanded its hours of operation, offering service around the clock, and becoming a true lifeline for people to reach OSHU, the VA and Shriners’ hospitals.”

“When I realized that the Gibbs Neighborhood would not have access to the Tram or the bike path or the river, I went to work to find the funds so that we could build a bridge over the 13 lanes of traffic and connect them to their neighbors and public services,” said former Congresswoman Darlene Hooley.

“The Portland Aerial Tram has been a key component in the development of the South Waterfront and the continued growth of OHSU as a major health and science research university. Since the Tram opened 10 years ago, OHSU has added more than 4,000 jobs and invested more than $1 billion in new buildings in the South Waterfront. Without the rapid and reliable transportation provided by the Tram, OHSU’s expansion to the South Waterfront would not have been possible,” said Brian Newman, OHSU vice president for campus development and administration.

The dignitaries were joined by dozens of people who use the tram on a daily basis. They gathered at the Center for Health & Healing, the first OHSU medical building in South Waterfront, located next to the lower tram landing.

As part of the celebration, the Portland Aerial Tram will throw a Community Day Celebration on Saturday, January 28th, featuring family activities, historical displays, and presentations on the construction of the Tram and the future of South Waterfront. Members of the public will also be able to participate in guided walks, enjoy expert talks and view special Tram Anniversary memorabilia. The event is free and takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tram facts

  • 16 million total rides since opening
  • 2.1 million rides in 2016
  • 9,500 average daily rides M-F
  • $2.4 million annual operating budget
  • Tram employees: 18
  • Trip length: 3,300 feet, rising 500 feet in elevation
  • Travel speed: 22 miles per hour and up


  Since the Portland Aerial Tram opened 10 years ago, OHSU has:

  • Added more than 4,000 jobs in Portland
  • Invested more than $1 billion in new buildings in South Waterfront