Streetcar Only Collecting Half of Its Projected Fares

Portland Streetcar has collected a little over half the fares it projected when it installed $1 fare boxes along its lines last fall.

The lack of fare revenue means the Portland Bureau of Transportation faces a shortfall in funding the streetcar's $8.9 million annual operating budget.

That analysis comes from the City Budget Office, which released its analyses of all 27 city bureau budgets yesterday.

"The bureau had originally projected $1 million in annual fare box revenues which supported 11% of the $8.9 million operating budget," the PBOT budget analysis says. "Since the mid‐September 2012 go‐live, however, the fare box revenue are taking in about 55% of what had been expected by this time."

The budget office report urges PBOT to work with its nonprofit manager Portland Streetcar Inc. to increase fare collection.

That might require the streetcar system to start ticketing freeloaders. WW first reported last month that streetcar fare inspectors had yet to issue a single citation for riding without a ticket.

Streetcar officials have said that 7 percent of riders don't pay the fare—even though the system doesn't have solid numbers on how many people are riding.

The city's revenue analysis suggests either ridership is far less than estimated, or freeloading is far more common than officials say.