Tram 'Lift Off!' Set; Ride Reservation Call Center Open

01/10/08  Portland, Ore

Public is invited to reserve time-specific tickets for grand opening rides on the aerial tram

All who wish to take in the panorama of the city, the river and mountains from aboard the Portland Aerial Tram can reserve a free time-specific ticket to ride the region's newest public conveyance during "Lift Off!," the public grand opening of the Tram, set for Saturday, Jan. 27, and Sunday, Jan. 28.  Rides will be offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

People interested in riding should call the reservation phone line, 503 418-TRAM (8726), which goes into service at 10 a.m. today (Wednesday, Jan. 10.)  A live operator will assist callers from now until 5 p.m. on Jan. 26 in reserving up to five free round-trip rides during Lift Off! weekend. Callers may select tickets for specific 15-minute time slots. All Tram rides during the grand opening weekend will depart from and return to the OHSU Center for Health & Healing at 3303 S.W. Bond Ave. in Portland's South Waterfront district.

 "The Tram cabins can accommodate as many as 78 people and take three minutes to get from one terminal to the other, but we don't want to make people wait in long lines," said Gerri Lutes, OHSU media manager, who has helped organize the event. "So we've set up a system to help even out the crowds and make it easier for people to plan their rides."

Those who can't make it to Lift Off! will have additional opportunities to ride the Tram. There will be free public ridership every Saturday in February.

The grand opening is the culmination of a process that began five years ago when a city-sponsored study concluded that an aerial tram offered the fastest, most reliable transit connection between OHSU's Marquam Hill campus and the South Waterfront, where the university's future expansion will be concentrated. Construction began in September 2005. Even before work on it began the Tram became a catalyst for hundreds of millions of investments in the South Waterfront.

Now the Tram - the only one of its kind in the world - takes its place as one of Portland's most visible public transportation connections and one of its greenest. The three-minute ride will eliminate 2 million vehicle miles annually, saving 93,000 gallons of gas per year and reducing greenhouse gases by more than 1,000 tons.

The Tram was built and is owned by the city of Portland. OHSU and Doppelmayr CTEC operate it. About three-fourths of the Tram's construction costs are being paid by OHSU. No city general funds have been used. The city's 15 percent share, or $8.5 million, of the cost will be paid from property tax revenues raised in the South Waterfront district. The remainder will come from special assessments on South Waterfront property owners.

As riders wait to board the Tram at the Center for Health & Healing during Lift Off! weekend they will be entertained throughout each day by a variety of musical groups and performers, including the Lions of Batucada, the Riverboat Jazz Band, 3 Leg Torso and Cosmo the Clown. There will also be face painters, jugglers and a child's activity area. Tram souvenirs, refreshments and food will be available and exhibits will be on view both at the Center for Health & Healing as well as in the Tram atrium in the new Kohler Pavilion expansion of OHSU Hospital on Marquam Hill.

Sponsors of Lift Off! are Kiewit Corporation; Ethos Development, Inc.; Doppelmayr CTEC, Inc.; Garaventa, AG; Frey, AG; Fatzer, AG; Gangloff, AG; the Portland Development Commission, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP; Williams & Dame Development; Thompson Metal Fab Inc. and NW Natural.

Due to limited parking, those attending Lift Off! are encouraged to use public transportation to reach the Center for Health & Healing. The Portland Streetcar - which stops directly in front of the lower tram terminal at the OHSU Center for Health & Healing - will be free during Lift Off weekend. Limited parking will be available at the OHSU Schnitzer Campus lot near the base of the Marquam Bridge and there will be free shuttle service to the Center for Health & Healing.

Formal recognition of the Tram opening will occur on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 9 a.m. at the Center for Health & Healing when Portland Mayor Tom Potter, City Commissioner Sam Adams, OHSU President Joseph Robertson, M.D., M.B.A.; former Mayor Vera Katz and other dignitaries will be present.

For more information about the Tram, Lift-Off weekend and the free Saturday rides, visit www.portlandtram.org.

The Portland Aerial Tram by the Numbers:
503 418-TRAM:    Lift Off! weekend ride reservation line (opens today, Jan. 10)
200:            One-way travel time in seconds
936:            Passenger capacity for one hour
560,000:        Weight in pounds of middle support tower
22.7:            Maximum operating speed in miles per hour
3,300:            One-way distance in feet
500:            Tram height over Interstate 5 in feet
78:            Total passenger capacity for each ADA- and bike-accessible tram cabin