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F-line, Our Museum Adapt to Super Bowl Week

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The foot of Market Street is very different this week. The streetcar tracks have PVC pipes stuck in the flangeways to reduce the tripping hazard for thousands of strollers visiting corporate-sponsored displays where the F-line and Muni buses usually run.

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Lower Market and the southbound lanes of The Embarcadero in front of the Ferry Building have been turned over to an event called “Super Bowl City”, demoting the F-line streetcars to a Ferry-Wharf shuttle service, with buses taking over for streetcars the entire length of Market Street (and connecting right in front of our San Francisco Railway Museum across from the Ferry Building, on Don Chee Way. By the way, our museum will be open regular hours, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.)

This cross-platform bus-streetcar connection, which Market Street Railway proposed after Muni planners were ready to turn the buses back a block away, has been strongly praised by the Castro Merchants at the west end of the F-line, who were rightly disappointed to lose their streetcar service for three weeks.  We’ve posted their signs in our museum windows to help promote the connecting bus service.

 

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At the museum, we’re striking a football theme, drawing on archivist Grant Ute and our friends at the Bay Area Electric Railroad Association for a replica of an actual streetcar ad from promoting a semi-pro football game at Kezar Stadium in 1945, the year before the 49ers came into existence. Kezar was served by the 7 and 17 lines of the old Market Street Railway and by Muni’s N-Judah line. For this celebration, we brought back a tee shirt featuring an N-Judah dash sign from the 1950s. It’s on sale at the museum now, and will soon appear in our online store.

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Back on the street, the streetcar-bus connection seems to be working well, with saturation service of 15 streetcars the first day of Super Bowl City easily handling crowds shuttling between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Ferry Building/Super Bowl City entrance area. The streetcars carry banners celebrating the Super Bowl, an idea suggested by Market Street Railway to the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. The banners will draw even more attention to the historic streetcars while they pass through the hundreds of camera shots of the Ferry Building taken from the various media platforms set up at the event. The banners are not considered advertising, which is forbidden on the outside of the historic streetcars.  They were applied carefully using cable ties by Muni’s great streetcar maintenance team to avoid marring the exterior of the historic cars.

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The buses, too, are heavily scheduled and include many articulated coaches. They loop clockwise around the museum and Hotel Vitale, while the streetcars loop counterclockwise. In the shot below, and inbound streetcar, with passengers on board, turns from Steuart Street to Mission, and will then head north on The Embarcadero to the Wharf. The bus has come south on The Embarcadero from Don Chee Way and is now headed west on Mission, again with passengers. It will turn north to resume the normal F-line route on Market after the Super Bowl City street closure.

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No question it’s going to be a disruptive week for transit, drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists in the area. We at Market Street Railway have two hopes. One: the streetcars get worthwhile and welcome exposure on the national stage through their high visibility next to Super Bowl City.  Two: the city leadership seriously reassesses the need to ever close down lower Market Street to transit in the future. We believe Super Bowl City could have been accommodated within the confines of Justin Herman Plaza, which would have allowed it to be better served by transit.

Remember, streetcars won’t return to Market Street until all the construction on Lower Market is taken down. The target date for that is February 12.

 

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Reminder: F-line Buses on Market Thru February 12

SB50 Transit - 1.14.16

The Super Bowl streetcar shutdown has begun. As the SFMTA graphic shows, the Market Street portion of the F-line will be running buses instead of streetcars until February 12. More details on service changes here.

The F-line streetcars will shuttle between Steuart Street and Don Chee Way (site of our San Francisco Railway Museum) and Fisherman’s Wharf. The Steuart Street F-line stop will be the transfer point between the streetcars and buses.

The E-line weekend streetcar service has been cancelled for the next three weekends. Muni operations turned away Market Street Railway’s recommendation that E-line service operate every day during Super Bowl Week, to carry crowds from Caltrain up to the gates of Super Bowl City.

At our museum, we will have some special merchandise, including tee shirts featuring a Kezar Stadium Football Day N-Judah streetcar dash sign.  We also have an encore run of our exhibit, “Take Me Out”, reliving the days when San Franciscans used streetcars to reach every kind of attraction, including sporting events. And if you haven’t bought your 2016 “Museums in Motion” calendar yet, this would be a great time to get one and save the shipping cost that we have to charge online.

 

If you’re going to Super Bowl City, which runs January 30 until game day, pay us a visit. We’re just outside the secure area. (In case you’re just joining us, this corporate extravaganza (for which SFMTA and other city agencies are not being reimbursed by the NFL) is taking over the easternmost three blocks of Market Street, plus several blocks of The Embarcadero’s southbound traffic lanes, for a total of three weeks, counting set up and tear down time.

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Hoodline Reports on Our Agenda

Hoodline headlineThe popular San Francisco neighborhood news website, Hoodline, reports on Market Street Railway’s priorities for improving historic streetcar service.

We appreciate the coverage and hope it helps move these items closer to reality.  The tremendous popularity of the F-line has made a major impact on service quality, as anyone who tries to ride knows.  We do feel strongly that the line can operate more efficiently than it does and become even more popular with locals, including people moving into the many new residential developments along Market Street.

Importantly, though, we want to emphasize that some of these ideas, particularly regarding operations on Market Street have been developed jointly with SFMTA (Muni), and the Better Market Street Project.  They deserve a great amount of credit for working to make our main street better for everyone: transit riders (buses as well as streetcars), bicyclists, and pedestrians.

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Van Ness H-line Poles Becoming History

H-2e car 131 painted Coast Guard on Van Ness at Eddy  1948   copy

One of the last significant remnants of Muni’s “H” streetcar line appears doomed. The concrete light standards along Van Ness Avenue, which also held up the H-line’s overhead wires (shown above, left at Eddy Street in 1948) have been cleared for replacement after a ruling by the city’s Board of Appeals validated SFMTA’s plans for the new Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

The concrete poles, with ornate streetlights attached, were installed with the original H-line tracks in 1914. The H-line was part of a flurry of Muni construction aimed at linking city neighborhoods to the fairgrounds of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition at Harbor View, now the Marina District.

We have an extensive exhibit about transit to the 1915 Fair currently running at our free San Francisco Railway Museum (but it will close soon, so don’t delay getting down there).

The H originally ran up Potrero Avenue from Army Street (now Cesar Chavez St.) across the eastern edge of the Mission District, then via Division and 11th Streets to reach Market, where it jogged onto Van Ness. The H turned west at Bay Street and ran through Fort Mason to reach what was the eastern edge of the 1915 Fair at Laguna Street. A passenger waiting shelter (below) still stands in Fort Mason along the old H-line route, across from what is now the headquarters of the Golden Gate National Recreation area. (Thanks to Emiliano Echeverria for sharing both photos.)

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Market Street Railway is working to return vintage streetcar service to Fort Mason, using a historic railroad tunnel under Fort Mason (also built for the 1915 Fair) to connect to the F-line tracks at Fisherman’s Wharf. (That project has cleared the environmental process, but is hung up on unrelated issues that we will discuss here soon.)

The concrete poles still run the length of Van Ness, and since 1950 have been used to hold up wires for the trolley bus lines that replaced the H.

Those who appealed the approval of the removal also objected to the removal of trees in the median of Van Ness, which was created when the streetcar tracks were taken out. The new BRT lanes will go in the middle of the street, right where the streetcar tracks once were. They’ll be trolley buses, so new poles will replace the old ones.

Preservationists urged that the poles be rehabilitated and retained for their historical value, but SFMTA successfully argued that that was not feasible for century-old concrete poles. However, four of the original poles are to be retained — two in front of City Hall, two across the street in front of the War Memorial, with a plaque to interpret their historic significance. We don’t know whether they’ll be expected to still hold up wires, or whether they’ll be allowed to rest and just be ornamental after a century of work.

 

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Super Bowl Sidelines Streetcars This Weekend

 

IMG_0693It’s starting already! Disruption of the F-Market & Wharves historic streetcar line for the Super Bowl celebration — a game still one month away!

In all the discussion about how Super Bowl City, an NFL concoction of sponsor-related activities, would force F-line streetcars off Market Street for up to three weeks starting later this month, nobody bothered to mention until the last minute that F-line streetcars will be replaced by buses from 9 p.m. this Friday, January 8, through the end of service Sunday, January 11. Here’s Muni’s official announcement, which says the streetcar shutdown is necessary so that cranes can take over Steuart Street to lift some sort of apparatus onto the roof of One Market for an NFL sponsor, Visa.

The entire F-line will be “bustituted” (buses substituted for streetcars) even the section from the Ferry to the Wharf. However, the E-Embarcadero weekend streetcar service will run as scheduled from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., so at least waterfront riders will have some streetcar service.

This could be considered the “pregame warmup” for the big Market Street F-line shutdown, which is likely to start on January 23 and last until February 11, almost three weeks, to allow for the construction, operation, and dismantling of Super Bowl City.

We will keep you up to date on any additional impacts of Super Bowl City on F-line service.

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End of the Line, and an Era

B-Geary last revenue run 122956 Jack Tillmany

Of all the disappeared streetcar lines in San Francisco, the B-Geary is probably the most lamented. It opened as part of Muni’s very first day of service on December 28, 1912. For its first few months, it was a shuttle along Geary from Tenth Avenue (where it connected with the A-line, which originally went downtown to Market Street) and 33rd Avenue.  Within a few weeks, though, the B jumped past the A in importance, with the A-line becoming the shuttle (along Tenth Avenue to Fulton), with the B heading downtown, running from “Bay” (Ferry Building) to “Breakers” (Ocean Beach via Geary, 33rd Ave., Balboa, 45th Ave., and Cabrillo) by June 29, 1913.

The B-Geary was Muni’s most heavily used streetcar line, and its final years included lots of drama. We wrote about that in detail, back in 2002.

The last day of service on the B-Geary was December 29, 1956, 59 years ago today (as this post is written). The last regular service car to leave the Playland terminal was No. 77 (identical to preserved 130 and 162), captured in this excellent color shot by Jack Tillmany, and preserved by our friends at outsidelands.org. The next day, 38-Geary line buses replaced the B’s streetcars.

The B-Geary streetcar operated for 44 years and one day. It has now been gone 15 years longer than it ran.  Still, it’s far from forgotten, and hope abounds among transit supporters that one day, Geary will again see rail transit service (not just the Bus Rapid Transit currently proposed).

 

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Video Birthday Card

Spirit of the Season

Curley Reed photo

Curley Reed photo

A quick compilation of recent photos from the Market Street Railway Facebook Group to celebrate the season. The streetcars were decorated by our volunteers; the cable cars by operators and sponsors of the annual Chinatown Senior Center lunch, organized for many years by the cable car workers, and underwritten by sponsors of the decorated cars.

Both kinds of decorated vintage rail transit vehicles have become a San Francisco tradition.

Before year end (or anytime, really), we at Market Street Railway, the non-profit advocating for the historic streetcars and cable cars, would very much appreciate your tax-deductible donation or membership!  We can’t do it without the support of people who love these wonderful, functional, museums in motion!

Enjoy this season, everyone.  And special thanks to photographers Val Lupiz, Curley Reed, Adolfo Echeverry, and Matthew Lee!

Val Lupiz photo

Val Lupiz photo

 

Curley Reed photo

Adolfo Echeverry photo

 

Matthew Lee photo

Matthew Lee photo

 

Val Lupiz photo

Val Lupiz photo

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Members’ Day at the Museum Dec. 19: 20% Discount

Saturday, December 19 is the day for Market Street Railway Members to get great deals on gifts (including ones for yourself!) at our San Francisco Railway Museum.

We will offer a 20% discount to our Members on all gift items in the museum (if you show your membership card, you’ll make things faster, but it’s not absolutely necessary). Santa will also be visiting the museum from 1-5pm, so Members are encouraged to bring the kids and the grandkids.
Take a look below at some of the great new gift items available only at the museum, not on our online store. These include our unique plaques displaying genuine slices of 19th century cable car rail, holiday ornaments and cards, apparel, books, and much more. (By the way, the 20% discount on December 19 applies only at the museum, not online. We will have a special extra discount online for our Members next year.)
Not a member? No worries.You can join at the museum and get your discount, or do so online, right now!
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Flop

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We came across this billboard in West Oakland yesterday, actually one of several for the same company, concentrated in a small area. The company makes an app that invites people to talk about things in the location where they are at the moment. On the Apple app store, it gets a poor rating, with one commenter saying, “It’s Instagram without any of the features or users or support or design or implementation. Don’t waste your data downloading.”

But of course, our interest here is on the streetcar. The positive? It’s another example of how San Francisco’s historic streetcars have become iconic, a true symbol of the city, just like the cable cars. The negative? Well, they flopped the photo of No. 1040, and not very well. They Photoshopped in the destination sign so the lettering wouldn’t be backwards, but the car number is still obviously reversed and, oh yes, the streetcar is operating on the wrong side of the road (hey, maybe they should have used one of the Melbourne trams).

If what they did to the photo represents the quality of the company, well…

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