Portland city commissioners have approved sending nearly $2.1 million to TriMet for various services related to the Eastside streetcar. That's up from a maximum outlay of $600,000 agreed on three years ago.
Mayor Charlie Hales defended the increase Wednesday. Ridership on the Eastside streetcar has been light, since it opened last summer. Mayor Hales argues that starting a system is difficult. He argues people didn't think light rail would attract passengers years ago.
Hales explained, "I think the same kind of predictions were made about the streetcar, and once that loop is completed, I don't think we'll have a problem with empty vehicles. I think we'll have a problem with probably not enough vehicles."
Hales has close connections to streetcar projects. For ten years before he was mayor, Hales was a senior vice president at the engineering firm, HDR, where he focused on streetcar and light rail projects.
This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.