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Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar

Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon          

“It must always be remembered how cost-effectiveness works in the public sector: the cost IS the benefit.” - author unknown

High Rise Cost

One often hears the claim that density saves money, especially high rises. Here is a quote from Edward Glaeser’s Atlantic Magazine article:

Prices do rise substantially in ultra-tall buildings—say, over 50 stories—but for ordinary skyscrapers, it doesn’t cost more than $500,000 to put up a nice 1,200-square-foot apartment.  (Atlantic, March 2011 - local)

$500,000 for 1200 sq-ft is $417 per sq ft.

A typical 2,000 sq-ft house in an unsubsidized development is about $180,000 (on ¼ acre!) for about $90 per sq-ft.

The high rise costs 363% more!

How does that affect standard of living?

Lets look at 1,200 sq ft in the high rise and in sprawl:

Amortized annual cost of high-rise vs. Sprawl (interest only)

Square foot



Amortized 7%

Mortgage (7%)







High Rise






Extra Cost of High rise

4.63 times





Sprawl saves $29,000 per year. That will pay a lot of commuting expense if you are one of the few people who work in the central city. Otherwise you commute is likely within your suburb (or in a nearby one as only 20% of the jobs are in the central city now days.)

That $29,000 saved will pay for a better education for your kids, better medical, better vacations. In other words a higher standard of living.

Car expenses are actually much lower than frequently stated. See:

AAA Cost of  Driving = 57¢/mile = 37¢/passenger-mile = 25¢/passenger-mile for the rest of us (2008/2010)

Government data shows cars cost  16.5cents/passenger-mile