Last summer, supporters of the nonprofit Friends of Frog Ferry (FOFF) announced a ferry pilot program to take passengers up and down the Willamette River. But a lot can change in a year. On Tuesday, officials behind the project announced that the dream of his Willamette River ferry system is no longer alive in Portland, at least for the time being.
FOFF members, who have been advocating for this new mode of transportation since 2018, must partner with either TriMet or the City of Portland public agency to apply for Federal Transportation Administration grants to develop ferry pilots. had. That deadline came and went on Tuesday, and Frog Ferry struck out.
This nonprofit has received financial support from the City of Portland and the State of Oregon in the past. But local political will for the ferry project has leveled off, and Frog Ferry leaders say they have no choice but to suspend the program indefinitely.
“We can have a boat on the water within 18 months. We cannot do that until our city leaders also make it a priority,” an email sent to supporters yesterday said. read the mail.
For FOFF supporters, the story shows that the city of Portland has failed to innovate like it used to.
“Portland has been a mecca for transportation innovation. told to “[That evolution] A robust transportation infrastructure is required, including a ferry system. It’s not really rocket science. “
But ferry-skeptical Portland city leaders say they can’t afford to work on such a project right now. When the Portland City Council discussed ferry pilots in April, Portland Transportation Authority Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty seemed particularly wary of allocating resources to FOFF.
“I think you would be interested in PBOT working on transportation projects that are transformative in transportation. said at the time.
PBOT can do multiple things at once, and because FOFF currently doesn’t require city funding, it only needs to help approve federal grant applications, Bird said.
“This project is seen as just an additional burden on our behalf. “I get it, but that’s no excuse not to innovate and keep the transportation system growing.”
However, Hardesty was also delayed by financial disputes between FOFF and TriMet. In April, TriMet officials wrote to city officials to express their concerns about FOFF founder Susan Bradholm’s questionable reimbursement claims from transit agencies. deny the allegations. For FOFF, TriMet is fabricating baseless accusations to withhold some of the money allocated for the project.
“The level of scrutiny this project is under seems to be buried in political realities and personal opinions on behalf of government leaders,” Byrd said. “[Accusations of financial impropriety] Nothing but absurdity. “
Officials aren’t the only ones skeptical of Ferry’s proposal. Joe Courtright brought his disagreements with the Frog Ferry to the City Observatory in April, writing that the ferry’s claims of convenience and practicality were quaint.
“It is impossible for a regular ferry service to travel between Vancouver and Portland faster than a car or current bus service. In the real world, boats are slower than cars and buses,” Courtright wrote. I’m here. “Especially the circuitous waterways between Vancouver and Portland, the slow speeds of even ‘fast’ ferries, the need to minimize wake damage at high speeds, and the relative distance of docks from their actual destinations. Given that Portland ferries are stupid and uneconomical fools. “
However, the FOFF concept may persist. Byrd told her BikePortland that ferries are a popular and inevitable thing in Portland and even though the project is now a sunken ship, they still want help.
“Overall, we believe the majority of Portlanders are in favor of this project. We believe there is a way forward, but public institutions need to strengthen and sponsor it.” “Someday we’ll have a ferry system. To say otherwise would be like saying we won’t build bridges or bike loops anymore.”
Taylor has been a staff writer for BikePortland since November 2021. He also writes for Street Roots and He Eugene Weekly. Please contact her at email@example.com.