Plugged In Portland
By EV World
The Flash-based slideshow below consists of a dozen photographs EV World's publisher took during his recent trip to Portland, Oregon for the Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar, an all-day briefing by internationally recognized experts in global oil production, water resources, alternative fuels and urban planning. Also presenting where Toyota executives discussing their firm's efforts to move ever closer to sustainable mobility from manufacture to operation to recycling of their vehicles.
As part of the event, Toyota arranged private walking tours with a city guide. The 90-minute walk included visits along the riverfront, where Portland actually tore out a four lane highway and replanted it with grass, creating a heavily used park to the renovated Pearl District where modern high-rised condos and apartments replaced derelict warehouses.
Moving about downtown Portland, which is bisected by the Willamette River, is relatively easy since the city has a highly integrated, modern public transit system that incorporates its Max Light Rail system, a new electric Trolley network, and conventional bus routes. The light rail system links not only outlying communities west and east, but also terminates at Portland International Airport, obviating any need to "Park 'n Fly." While the system isn't perfect -- there have been occasional acts of violence on the system, especially on outlying parts of the system, and panhandling can be a problem -- it is clean and efficient. You can text message from your cellphone when the next train or trolley is scheduled to arrive at your location, for example; and all of the stops have automatic signage indicating arrival times.
As if to underscore how little a personal car might be needed for many residents of Portland, three prototype Prius Plug-in Hybrids sat unused in front of the Benson Hotel where the seminar was held. Toyota had brought them, along with two of its fuel cell-powered Highlanders -- including the one that drove from Alaska to Seattle this summer -- for members of the press to drive, but near as we could tell, no one drove them. We walked to a nice restaurant around the corner and used the Max to get from the airport into town.
While two businesses -- Hotlips Pizza and Pearl District Property Management -- use GEM electric vehicles, Portland is only just now starting to layout a plan to provide public charging for electric cars, including plug-ins like the Prius and the Volt. This summer it installed its first public charging station in front of Portland Gas & Electric's headquarters building.
Zipcar, the carshare program, also has a presence in the Pearl District. Members in the neighborhood can book the Toyota Prius for between $7 and $9 a hour, giving anyone who does need to drive outside the TriMet service area personal transportation service that includes the insurance and fuel. According the the Zipcar representative, each car can service up to 50 members in a local neighborhood.
Finally, bicycles are a very popular way to get about central Portland. Every street has bicycle stands or trees against which bicycles can be secured. In addition, all of the Max trains have space designated for bicycle, allowing cyclists to bring their bikes onboard with them.
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