The folks over enviro research group Sightline pointed out an interesting mystery: Why the hell is streetcar ridership rising?!

TriMet ridership has been up and down since 2008 (with bus ridership down nine percent), but for some reason the streetcar stats are up by 11 percent. As Clark Williams-Derry over at Sightline says:

I truly have no idea what's fueled the streetcar's gravity-defying ridership stats. Neither, apparently, do the folks at the Portland Streetcar. In their view, nothing significant has changed in or near the streetcar route that would explain the increase. The areas serviced by the streetcar were fully developed by 2008; there haven't been major new employers on the route; the streetcar hasn't increased its service; and nearby transit has basically remained the same. You can't attribute the gains to effective marketing, since the streetcar doesn't even have a marketing budget.
Personally, I find this mystifying. Who rides the streetcar? It comes every 20 minutes, if you're lucky, making it effective transportation only for tourists and people who actually plan their day around the streetcar schedule. Ideas, anyone?

But whatever the reason, the increased ridership will certainly reinforce Mayor Adams' justification for asking the federal government for $168 million for a streetcar expansion—a whopping 71 percent of the money the city is asking the feds for in its top priority list.

Workers unveil the new American-made streetcar in July 09.