By John A. Charles, Jr.
TriMet and Metro are promoting the idea of a new light rail line from Portland State University to the Bridgeport Village shopping mall in Tualatin.
The question is, who would ride it?
We already know from experience that mall shoppers prefer private cars to trains. The Red Line to the airport was opened in 2001 specifically to service the Cascade Station shopping center, which is anchored by IKEA, Target, and Best Buy. Field observations conducted by Cascade Policy Institute in 2010 and again in 2016 showed that more than 98% of all passenger-trips to and from Cascade Station are made in private automobiles. Light rail is simply irrelevant.
The same is true for Gresham Station, another shopping center specifically built around a light rail stop. Regardless of the time-of-day or day-of-week, virtually all trips to and from Gresham Station are made in private vehicles.
The Green MAX line, which terminates at Clackamas Town Center, has also had no effect on travel patterns at the mall.
In order for the Bridgeport Village line to be built, Tigard residents will need to approve the city’s participation in the project by voting for Measure 34-255 in the November election. Local voters should learn from experience and turn down this measure. Light rail through Tigard would be a total waste of money.
John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.