The Aerial Tram Portland is one of the coolest modes of public transportation in the city, even though it's just an up and down trip. ;)
I've always believed Portland to have it's ear to the grindstone when it comes to being a cutting-edge city. The Portland Aerial Tram is a prime example of this. Maybe it's not totally unique, but it's pretty groovy to me. So, I'm easily amused! haha.
As cool as it is, the Tram was not intended for the convenience of Portland shoppers and residents to enjoy. It was actually built to relieve the growth problems at OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University).
They had their main facility on Marquam Hill and were experiencing some severe growing pains. They decided that a South Waterfront expansion would be a great solution, but neede to find a economical way to get from one facility to the other. OHSU and the city of Portland decided the Aerial Tram was the best solution. Plans for construction began in 1999.
The Aerial Tram in Portland was opened to OHSU students and employees in December of 2006 and, finally, to the general public in January of 2007. It was paid for by both the city and OHSU itself. That's the quick and dirty on the Tram's background.
Although the ride itself lasts only 3 minutes, it's great fun to fly the 3,300 foot distance at 500 ft over the city in this really sci-fi looking piece of machinery, especially when the skies are clear and blue. The view is wonderful!
You can catch a car every 6 minutes, so you won't have a long wait if it's not there when you're ready to go. You're able to purchase tickets (don't bring dollar bills! The ticket machines only take credit and debit cards) only at the lower terminal. It you've used a Smartmeter on the city streets when parking your car, it's very similar and just as easy.
It's an inexpensive ride, traveling round-trip, and children 6 and under ride for free. Make sure you have your proof of purchase on you in case the tram operator asks to see it.
If you are a patient or visiting a patient at OHSU or Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, you can obtain a ticket from the care provider's office, lab, etc at the hospital location. Employees and students simply need to show their ID to hop a tide on the tram.
The Aerial Tram in Portland hours go from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm, Monday - Friday and Saturdays from 9 to 5. It's closed on Sundays and all major holidays. You can either catch the tram at the OHSU Marquam Hill Campus or in the waterfront area at 3303 SW Bond Ave.
I really love riding the Portland Aerial Tram and it's a definite must-do when you're in downtown Portland.