Heavens, the City of Portland isn't spending a dime on those trolleys, it's making money from the taxes this successful (Since 1872) private business pays. I'm surprised to hear someone say they run empty, though I only know them from reputation. It would sure be something I'd like to see if I ever go to Portland.
If instead of the trolley you were referring to the Portland Streetcar system, they claim ridership of over 20,000 daily weekday. http://www.portlandstreetcar.org/images ... iction.jpg
That I believe is run by the city. Another interesting sight. They have mobile music festivals in those cars. http://streetcarmobilemusicfest.org/
Or perhaps since you were looking up at it you meant the aerial tram, which boasts "In addition to one of the nation's only aerial commuter trams, you'll see cars, buses, shuttles, a streetcar, a soaring pedestrian bridge, a shipyard, a cycle track, and the densest bike parking in America's #1 biking city. Bike valet is offered free to the public at Portland Aerial Tram. It is sponsored by OHSU and operated by our partner Go By Bike."
(Figured this group would like hearing about the bikes.) http://www.bicycling.com/news/advocacy/ ... and-oregon
Or you can take the streetcar to get there.
I'm dying to go there and see it all.