Could Portland be adding passenger ferries to its commute options? A proposal to bring a ferry system to Portland has been gaining momentum in the fifteen months since its initial proposal. The results of a viability study, paid for by the Portland Transportation Bureau are expected to be released this summer, which will provide a better idea of where the future of the project stands. The comprehensive study will cover topics such as infrastructure, maintenance, and operations, as well as financial viability.
Founder of the nonprofit, Friends of Frog Ferry, Susan Bladholm, believes there are financial opportunities out there that can aid the project, such as federal support that the city has not requested or tapped into. If the results of the viability study are favorable, she plans on seeking aid from public agencies. She also noted that it isn’t too late for public support, perhaps this gets added to Portland’s $7 billion transportation package that is expected to make the November ballot? The nonprofit’s vision of the ferry system is based loosely upon that of Portland’s street car system, where the street cars are run by the nonprofit while the streetcars themselves are owned by the city.
If this project comes to fruition, here is what we potentially could be seeing: A scalable system that centers around a 38 minute commute from downtown Portland to Vancouver, with potential additional stations in areas such as St. Johns, Sellwood, Milwaukie, Oregon City, and Lake Oswego. Granted, Lake Oswego was against a bridge between the city and Milwaukie, so who knows if they would welcome a ferry station. The nonprofit is looking to use “lower-profile” vessels, ships that would hold between 100-150 people, so that bridge lifts would not be needed. This makes me a little sad as that most likely means this system would not be able to ferry cars. This poses the question, what transportation support is there for when one finally arrives at their stop?
If Portland added a ferry system, would you use it? What type of service would you hope to see?