Audit questions Portland Streetcar organization
The Portland Auditor's Office is urging the City Council to postpone future expansion of the Portland Streetcar system until questions about its financing and organizational structure can be resolved.
In its first audit of the system, the auditor's office found the mix of public agencies and private organizations involved its operation confusing and potentially risky to the city's finances. Although Portland owns the tracks, streetcar and other equipment, the system is operated by a non-profit organization called Portland Streetcar Inc., and the streetcars are driven by TriMet employees.
The audit, "Portland Streetcar: City bears financial burden and operational risk while relying on outside partners," was released Thursday, April 17, and includes four recommendations to the Portland Bureau of Transportation to resolve some the questions.
"After years of system growth, the city needs to focus on aligning its mission, strategic direction and partnership structure to ensure the success of Portland Streetcar operations. With that in mind, we also recommend the City Council defer future Portland Streetcar system expansion decisions until PBOT has implimented our recommendations," according to the audit.
The recommendations include:
Conducting a strategic planning effort.
Better protecting the public interest.
Improving transparency for Portland Streetcar financial reporting.
Mitigating risks related to conflicts of interest and/or related-party partnerships.
In his response letter, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick says he agrees with the audit's recommendations.
The audit can be read at www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=64479&a=487580.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT