Light Rail Referendum
Loses in Portland

A referendum that would have authorized issuance of $475 million in bonds to support building the proposed South-North light rail line in Portland was defeated by voters by a 51% to 49% margin (123,976 to 119,308) on November 3, 1998. This is in spite of a well financed media advocacy campaign that claimed light rail would reduce traffic congestion (an impact that has never been proven in any US city with a new light rail line). The advocacy campaign also claimed that failure to ratify the bonds would result in the loss of $900 million in federal funding. "By any account, this has to be a devastating loss to light rail advocates," said Wendell Cox, editor of The Public Purpose Rail advocates spend $1.1 million, compared to $130,000 for opponents

The bonds had previously been authorized overwhelmingly by the voters, but in fear of a legal challenge, local officials placed the issue on the ballot again. The project scope had changed materially as a result of a resounding vote against light rail in Clark County, Washington, which was to be the northern terminous of the route. The loss also comes on the heels of very positive media coverage with respect to the $1 billion new westside light rail line, which opened in September

Proponents spent approximately $1.1 million in the campaign, 8.5 times the $130,000 spent by opponents.

The Public Purpose
Contact Us by E-Mail
The Public Purpose | Demographic Briefs | Government Cost Review | Government Employment Fact Book
Intercity Transport Fact Book | Labor Market Reporter | Realities | School Transport Fact Book
Transport Fact Book | Urban Policy | Urban Transport Fact Book | Competitive Tendering Website
International Competition & Ownership Conference
Publications | New Items | Book Store | Subscribe (Free)

Corrections Policy, Rights & Permissions