On Tuesday, the Portland Aerial Tram opened for the day to public ridership because snow delayed other forms of transit.

But it opens for real to the public Thursday, Jan. 25 (with free rides Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 27-28).

We must admit to staring at the tram as we drive down Macadam Avenue, and to looking forward to our virgin ride. We don't doubt that the tram will become a signature for this city, in the same way Portlandia has but the twin towers of the Convention Center never have.

Yet we'd be remiss if we didn't remind readers how damn expensive the tram is, particularly given the original estimates that had as much relation to reality as Bush telling us "mission accomplished." So we put together the graphic above to show how its budget climbed from what city officials told us would be $15.5 million in 2002 to the ultimate cost of $57 million.

The tram, which has a cabin capacity of 79 people, will operate weekdays from 6 am to 10 pm, Saturdays from 9 am to 5 pm. No decision has been made yet on Sunday operations.

Fares are to be set this week after a proposed $4 roundtrip fee caused an uproar from folks who remembered the initial promise that the cost would be the same as a two-zone TriMet roundtrip (currently $3.40).

Lower Station:

2002 : $2.5 M

2006 $13.4 M

436 % increase


2002 $2 M

2006 $9.1 M

355 % increase

Cars: $1.4 M (no change from 2002)

Upper Station:

2002 $4 M

2006 $27.6 M

590 % increase

Other costs:

2002 $5.5 M

2006 budget: $5.3 M

3.6 % decrease

* Because of rounding, per-item costs don't add up to the total.