I’m all for saving the environment. I bake my own lasagna to cut down on Stouffer’s packages in the landfill, I constantly offer to shower with attractive men to save water, and sometimes I park two, even three spaces away from the liquor store entrance and walk. It’s all about conservation of resources.
Portland, Oregon, is on board with this. It’s taken public transportation to a whole new level. Most cities just have taxis, buses, and maybe a train. Our City of Bridges has taxis, buses, light rail, cycle rickshaws, streetcars, specialized bike lanes, Zipcar, and now (drum roll) an aerial tram.
The tram won’t cut your downtown commute, it only goes one place: the Oregon Health and Science University Hospital. Which is great if you’re a med student or a doctor or somebody scheduled for a colonoscopy but it doesn’t really help the rest of us unless we need a disgusting joke to cut the tension in our day:
Hey, I didn’t design it.The Portland Aerial Tram trundles up from the South Waterfront District (aka The Muppie Breeding Grounds) to the teaching hospital at the top of a very tall hill every seven minutes, heaving patients and medical staff 500 feet aloft in a ludicrously apropos artistic representation of skyrocketing medical costs.The route sails over private residences, decks, and roofs that people have taken upon themselves to use as a public forum. Nude sunbathers must be 100% certain of their comfort level with becoming an internet meme at the click of a smartphone camera.The 12-ton tram cars pass each other so closely that a certain type of personality begins to channel James Bond in a testosterone-fueled fantasy: “I bet I could jump that.” Lucky for him, there’s a hospital 90 seconds away.
For variety and thrills, the cars rock and lurch over an intermediate support tower directly above 14 lanes of highway and side streets, causing all sphincters aboard to slam shut and inspiring additional symptoms in the already ill. If there’s a psychiatrist up there at the hospital treating people for acrophobia he has a fucking dark sense of humor.I rode the Giant Silver Suppository on the last free day after the grand opening. That was enough. The Portland Aerial Tram experience is a lot like Disney World: Parking is a nightmare, the rides are less exciting than you’d hope, and you’re crammed together with a lot of stinky, sweaty people who are desperately in need of medication. I’ll stick to light rail.
February 24, 2007