Latest News from Market Street Railway...
SFMTA just issued this news release, proclaiming that the teardown of Super Bowl City has been completed a day early, so Muni service on lower Market Street is resuming tonight (Thursday, February 11). That should include F-line streetcars, though the announcement doesn’t make that explicit.
In any event, if the streetcars do return to Market on Friday the 12th, it’s only for a visit. Because they’ll be taken off the street AGAIN this coming weekend, February 13 and 14, with buses substituting the entire F-line route this time, so that Steuart Street can be closed while Visa disassembles its corporate skybox on the rooftop of the One Market building podium and cranes the pieces down to the street.
(We’re not sure just what that corporate skybox was for. A venue for big shots to eat and drink while they looked down on — what, people milling around Super Bowl City? The Ferry Building clock? Well, we’re sure they had a swell time, whatever they were looking at.
Be thankful for that swell time someone else had while you ride the F-line bus this weekend.
At least the Super Bowl snafus will FINALLY be over for the F-line after this weekend. And, oh yes, the E-Embarcadero streetcar service will resume this weekend as well, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., between Fisherman’s Wharf and Caltrain. Although Muni has cancelled that service so many weekends for so many alleged reasons, it’ll be a miracle if anyone knows to ride it. At least we’re doing our part.No Comments on F-line Streetcars Back On Market. For One Day. Maybe.
The Super Bowl ended this football season, but we’ll go into overtime for a minute to share a special football-related photo. We’re at the end of the N-Judah line at Ocean Beach. Based on the clues in the photo, it’s between 1955 and 1957. PCC “torpedo” No. 1015 is about to take the loop and head inbound. It’s been converted from double-end to single-end operation, hence the blocked-off doors you see.
On the stub track sit two “B type” original Muni streetcars, built in 1914 but recently “modernized” with conductor-operated doors on their rear platforms. We can’t tell the number of the car, on the right, but the one closer to us is No. 162. We know why it and its sibling are laying over from the yellow dash sign saying “Football Today – Kezar Stadium.” It’s probably a 49ers game (city high school games were played there too). Muni banked a couple of cars on the N-line terminal spur for postgame pickups. Other cars would switch back near Kezar on Carl Street to take fans home.
As mentioned last week, we’ve captured this distinctive dash sign on a tee shirt which you can buy at our San Francisco Railway Museum. They’ll be up on our online store next week. (By the way, “shortest route” dates back to the pre-1944 days when Muni competed with our namesake, Market Street Railway Company, whose service to Kezar ran via Haight Street instead of the N-line’s faster Sunset Tunnel route.)
It’s amazing that at least two of the three streetcars pictured in this 60 year old photo are preserved (heck, could be all three if that other one is No. 130). Well, maybe not so amazing…our organization and its founders successfully championed the preservation of the rare double-end PCCs Muni owned, such that seven of the ten are in service today! And we brought No. 162 back from a museum and began its restoration. (Today, we’re working with SFMTA to get the damage it suffered in an accident two years ago repaired. It is a slow process, but we won’t rest until it’s back on the street.)1 Comment on Postgame Parade
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 Comment on F-line, Our Museum Adapt to Super Bowl Week
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.No Comments on Reminder: F-line Buses on Market Thru February 12
The 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.No Comments on Hoodline Reports on Our Agenda
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.)
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.
4 Comments on Van Ness H-line Poles Becoming History
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.1 Comment on Super Bowl Sidelines Streetcars This Weekend
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).
No Comments on End of the Line, and an Era
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!
No Comments on Spirit of the Season