20-Year Streetcar Administrative Supervisor Carol Cooper:
Portland Streetcar is like a book of memories, each chapter with something new and exciting.
In 2001 while working in the yard as one of the many trailers of subcontractors, I was asked to apply for the office manager position in the Portland Streetcar office. I was intrigued, the idea of being part of the startup of a system that brought back streetcars to Portland was fascinating. Watching the Streetcars being assembled and finished was amazing and learning about the alignment a bit overwhelming.
At that time the building was mostly empty, the main office just vast open space. The thought of setting up and running the office was an exciting challenge and well worth it. As there weren’t many employees, we all worked as a team and shared in whatever work may have needed to be done. Numerous times we would find ourselves picking up trash from platforms, cleaning shelters, trains and the facility. One of my favorites--during heavy rains removing leaves from Marshall Street drains to keep water out of the shop. This was all while there were streetcars being delivered and tested, the Czech Technicians to learn new language from which made learning fare machine operations challenging, operators arriving daily, and many group and school tours to weave through.
The grand opening was exciting! I’ll never forget watching the streetcar come up Northrup Street surrounded by what looked like a carnival. The streetcars were so packed with people that the bridgeplates couldn’t be deployed. That day opened a new chapter: revenue service. It brought new things to learn, problems to solve, autos to tow and many customer calls with questions. "Why didn’t the streetcar swerve?" is still my favorite.
Since then chapters include: vintage trolleys, extensions, new streetcars, additional facilities, completing the loop, and many more fun and interesting people to work with. During all of this I was blessed with a family, streetcars included! Thank you to all the people who thought I could do the job and gave me the opportunity! It’s a little hard to believe that 20 years have passed.
Congratulations Portland Streetcar - all the best for many more years to come.