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Brussels 'Sprouts' in the (Premature) Spring

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Jeremy Whiteman photo. All rights reserved.

Okay, enough with the bad puns. Point is that a historic streetcar long missing from the streets is running again. European PCC No. 737, which served Brussels, Belgium for a half-century, was out for testing last Saturday, while the rest of the historic streetcars took a break because of track construction on Market Street. The tram, confusingly painted to honor San Francisco’s sister city, Zurich, Switzerland at the request of then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, reportedly performed well during trials on the J, L, and M lines. Jeremy Whiteman took this great shot on 19th Avenue near Junipero Serra on the M-line, with early poppies providing color and perhaps a slight echo of Flanders fields near the tram’s original home.

The tram was acquired from a broker in Brussels 10 years ago when Muni was looking for possible additional groups of streetcars for the F-line. Since the car was a European version of a PCC, with many of the same components, the thinking went it would be easy to maintain. But the tram had been modified over the years with a number of now-obsolete electronic components and other changes had been made that took awhile to remedy, so the car’s service has been sporadic.

It is still an important part of the fleet, and Saturday’s tests sparked encouragement that the tram could soon enter regular service again. A few tweaks are still needed; then it’s on to operator training. We hope to see the tram in service soon.

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