As I’ve mentioned here before, because the cars from United Streetcar/Oregon Iron Works are a bit behind schedule (the first car is on the test track at OIW now! but it will still be there a while) to support the new east side line, we have to run every car in our 11 car fleet every weekday (we can give one car a rest on weekends).
This is very tough on our maintenance staff, who are responding heroically (they did this same drill during one of the South Waterfront extensions, when the cars from the Czech Republic were late).
But things happen, so we have to have contingency plans.
The normal operating pattern is 6 cars on the ‘NS’ line on the west side and 5 cars on the ‘CL’ Loop line.
If we have a car down, the fallback plan is to reduce the Loop line to four vehicles and short-line it. This means that instead of going south to Market St., cars on the Loop would turn around at Lovejoy and go back over the bridge.
This actually results in BETTER headways (15 minutes instead of 18) but means passengers from the east side have to transfer to get downtown (and vice versa).
When this contingency plan gets activated, the reader boards in the shelters will have a message indicating that it’s in effect.
The choice to pull a car from the Loop line rather than the NS line is motivated by customer service: we have 11,000 riders every day on the NS line – and 3-5,000 on the CL line – so we want to keep service on the NS line as stable as possible.
Of course, our strong desire is not to have to use it!