OSHU Tramway Tour

Meet at 6PM 10/17/2007
Corner of SW Bond and SW Curry

The OHSU Portland Aerial Tramway carries commuters between the city’s South Waterfront district and OHSU and the Marquam Hill neighborhood. It is the second commuter aerial tramway in the United States (after New York City’s Roosevelt Island Tramway). The tram travels a horizontal distance of 3,300 feet and rises 500 feet in a ride that lasts three and one-half minutes. Its upper terminal is 140 feet above grade, and connected to the ninth floor of a new patient care facility on the university’s campus. Its lower terminal in the rapidly growing South Waterfront connects to the Portland Streetcar for direct service downtown. A
single intermediate tower supports the tram’s cables between the two terminals, allowing the tram to rise nearly 200 feet over Interstate 5. Almost all of the journey is near its upper elevation, making the tram easily visible for some distance, and providing good views of the eastern metropolitan area and the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington. The number of commuters to date is almost 1 million after opening to the general public in January 2007.

The tram uses track ropes, a single haul rope, a counterweight, a drive system and other equipment to support and move the tram cabins from the riverfront to OHSU and back. The drive system consists of 3 different types of drives; the main drive which is a variable frequency drive powering a 450kW motor, a standby drive which is a diesel hydrostatic and an evacuation drive which is similar to the standby drive. The control systems are PLC driven and include rope and drive monitors, safety systems, environmental monitors, communications between the tram cabins and the control room and other systems to safely move the commuters.

Mike Commissaris is the Portland Area Tram General Manager and has extensive experience in electronics, communications and tramway operations. He spent 10 years designing high frequency radio and telephone equipment with Stoner Communications. Mike designed failsafe railroad automation systems for Harmon Electronics for 10 years and spent 15 years as the Assistant General Manager of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.


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