Kansas City PCC 1056 Back at Muni

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Five years after leaving F-line service with a major structural crack, PCC 1056, painted to honor Kansas City, arrived back at Muni Metro East this afternoon, totally rebuilt by Brookville Equipment Company and looking mighty good.

Because of the damage to the bolster under the car, the 1056 was the first car to be sent to Brookville under the current contract to completely rebuild the 16 PCCs that opened the F-line in 1995. After unloading from the low-ride trailer owned by expert streetcar mover Silk Road Transport, Muni maintenance worker Kevin Sheridan, a third generation San Francisco streetcar worker, took the controls and smoothly ran the car around the yard to a service bay inside the maintenance facility, under its own power. (Kevin’s dad Mike, retired from Muni, is one of Market Street Railway’s key volunteers, working on archival photos.)

The car will have numbers and decals applied, receive a farebox and radio, and then enter 1000 miles of testing before carrying passengers.

No sooner had the 1056 cleared the unloading track than Muni workers loaded up PCC 1055 (below) now on its way to Brookville, where it joins 1051, 1060, 1059. and 1062, in various stages of restoration. The 1051 is the next one expected back.

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We’ll have the inside story of the car’s rebirth and a full update on the Brookville contract in the next issue of our exclusive member newsletter, Inside Track, due out in early September.  Join Market Street Railway today so you don’t miss it.

 

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On the Road Again

IMG_2221This just in…the first of 16 PCCs to be rebuilt under the current contract with Brookville Equipment Corporation is on the road back to San Francisco. Muni Car 1056, painted to honor Kansas City, has been thoroughly renovated and is on the road toward California right now. The shot above is the car leaving the Brookville facility in Pennsylvania.

Car 1056 had been out of service the past few years because of a cracked bolster (the piece under the body that sits on top of and connects to the trucks (wheel sets and motors). That critical piece must be expertly repaired or replaced to ensure the long-term operation of the restored car. It is one of the areas Muni will look at very closely before accepting the car and returning it to service. As Car 1056 was generally considered to be in the worst condition of the original F-line fleet covered by the current contract, it was sent first. Thus, Muni’s team will watch closely to make sure the car has truly gone from worst to first.

Logos and car numbers will be applied by Muni’s maintenance team after arrival. The car must be “run in” — tested extensively before acceptance — which requires 1,000 miles of service. That usually takes place on the outer ends of the J, K, and L lines.

We’ll let you know when the car has arrived at Muni Metro East! And we’ll have the inside story of the car’s rebirth and a full update on the Brookville contract in the next issue of our exclusive member newsletter, Inside Track, due out in early September.  Join Market Street Railway today so you don’t miss it.

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Join Us at San Francisco History Days

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This weekend, March 5-6, the historic Old Mint at Fifth and Mission comes alive again with city history. Dozens of city history groups will assemble to celebrate San Francisco’s history. Market Street Railway will again be among them, as we have been in the past.  (That’s us above at an earlier version of the event. The Old Mint is a great venue for this.)

SFGate.com has all the details here.

This year, the Mayor’s Office is running the event and it has opened up the opportunity for groups to sell more merchandise than in the past. And this year it’s FREE!

We’ll have an interesting selection of unique items, plus our displays. Come join us 11-5 on Saturday, 11-4 on Sunday!

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“Super Bust 50”

For three weeks, F-line streetcar riders from the Wharf had to transfer onto buses near the Ferry Building to reach destinations along Market Street, including the Castro. Many skipped the trip altogether.

For three weeks, F-line streetcar riders from the Wharf had to transfer onto buses near the Ferry Building to reach destinations along Market Street, including the Castro. Many skipped the trip altogether.

“Super Bust 50” is the headline of the new Castro Merchants monthly President’s Letter by Daniel Bergerac. You can read his entire letter here, but here’s the gist.

As the Super Let Down after Super Bowl 50 starts to fade, let’s remember who is going to end up paying the biggest price for Santa Clara hosting this huge sporting event – – we are: local merchants, especially in The Castro.  But, we are not alone, we hear, as local merchant associations all over San Francisco report down, soft revenues during SB50.  From all over The Castro and Upper Market neighborhood, I’ve heard from fellow merchants.  The nine days of official SB50 events in the City ballooned, for us, into over three weeks of SB50-related interruptions.  Customer traffic (locals and visitors alike) and revenues were some of their slowest on record during what had been promised as a “busy time.”   Nightmare predictions of over-crowded streets and traffic jams kept Bay Area local folks out of San Francisco.  Running “Bustitues” instead of the F Line historic streetcars between The Castro and Ferry Building for over three weeks further hurt our area’s local and visitor traffic and revenues.

It’s really important to point out that SFMTA leadership was not consulted before the City made the decision to shut down those easternmost three blocks of Market Street for three weeks, crippling the F-line and Muni bus service in the area.  Once they were handed a fait accompli, Muni staff worked hard to make transit work as well as possible.  They were responsive to the concerns the Castro Merchants — and we at Market Street Railway — expressed about the prolonged replacement of historic streetcars with buses on Market Street.  They agreed with our recommendation that the transfer between the substitute Market Street buses and the streetcars (which remained in service between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Ferry Building) be as easy and intuitive as possible. They put out lots of staff to help people make the transfer, next to our museum on Don Chee Way, the right-of-way linking Steuart Street to The Embarcadero). They put signage in Metro stations and on vehicles promoting the Castro as a destination for Super Bowl visitors. (We gladly did the same at our museum.)

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Shops and restaurants still suffered because only a small percentage of Super Bowl City visitors bought anything outside the event barricades, and because many regular workers and visitors stayed away after the repeated warnings of congestion. Our own San Francisco Railway Museum, right next to Super Bowl City, saw our sales of souvenirs drop 56% — more than half — over the same week in 2015, during  the week they were taking Super Bowl City down, but the F-line was still being “bustituted” on Market. Even the week Super Bowl City was open to the public, our sales ran 12% below the previous year, despite our efforts to play up football connections to transit at the museum and reintroduction of a Kezar Stadium dash sign tee-shirt aimed at fans.

The city has not finished adding up the net economic impact of the Super Bowl events in San Francisco, and it may be that additional hotel taxes and the like will more than compensate for the reduced take of sales taxes the city will get from the small businesses in the Castro and elsewhere who saw their sales fall off.

One clear lesson from this event: buses are no substitute for the F-line streetcars on a long-term basis. It has been shown over and over, in city after city: visitors do not trust, or feel comfortable on buses (with the possible exception of iconic vehicles like London’s red double-deckers). In San Francisco, the cable cars and historic streetcars, yes. Every time buses are substituted en masse for the cable cars and streetcars, ridership plummets. For so many people, the journey on these wonderful “time machines” is as important as the destination. And so, when buses replace historic rail, businesses along the lines, and especially near the terminals, suffer.

We hope the powers-that-be in San Francisco includes the community more thoroughly in planning for future events. Looking at the layout and extent of Super Bowl City, they clearly could have set it up in a way that could have kept the F-line streetcars running up Market Street to the Castro. That could have been a win-win.

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F-line, Our Museum Adapt to Super Bowl Week

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… — Read More

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Hoodline Reports on Our Agenda

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.

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Super Bowl Sidelines Streetcars This Weekend

  It’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,… — Read More

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Red Lanes on Powell Seem to Work

Powell Street cable cars have some breathing room now, with the implementation of an 18-month test to ban private automobiles from Powell between Geary and Ellis Streets.  The SFMTA Board of Directors recently approved the plan, which Market Street Railway has been advocating for more than a year, and signage went up along with the signature red lanes San Francisco uses to denote “transit only.” While compliance with the new rules seems pretty good so far, part of that may be because the intersections are filled with SFMTA Parking Control Officers (PCOs) directing drivers away from Powell. The real test will come when the PCOs are pulled off. But it’s a good start. The Powell cable cars now have three blocks of automobile-free operation after leaving the turntable at Market Street. As the test continues, Market Street Railway will be working with Union Square groups and city agencies to try to create a beautiful permanent streetscape for Powell from Market to Union Square, one of the busiest pedestrian stretches in the city.    

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K is for Kenosha

  Big celebration in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Saturday, September 12, “Streetcar Day,” as they welcomed their newest PCC streetcar for their two-mile loop line from the commuter rail station to the new housing developments along Lake Michigan. Local angle? Just look at the paint job! Like San Francisco, Kenosha paints its PCC streetcars in different liveries that pay tribute to some of the 30 North American cities that operated this, the most successful streetcar design in history. For their latest car (which, like most of the fleet, came from Toronto), they’re honoring — San Francisco, adopting the classic mid-century green and cream “Wings” livery, modeled in San Francisco on several Muni cars, including No. 1040, the last PCC built in North America.  In a clever touch, the head sign (route and destination listing above the windshield) says K-Kenosha/Beach.  (It does in fact loop through a beach park on the lakefront.) In a collaborative gesture, Market Street Railway and Muni sent materials, including the old Muni logo (the initials S.F. circled by the words “Municipal Railway”) and F-line maps for display inside to the Kenosha Streetcar Society, our counterpart in Kenosha.  They’ve done a great job there. Market Street Railway members: look in your… — Read More

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F-line Buses, No E-line Labor Day Weekend

  Suddenly, unexpectedly, with only two days notice to business and community stakeholders, including Market Street Railway, Muni’s parent, SFMTA, says it will replace all F-line streetcars this Labor Day Weekend with buses. Last weekend, Muni put out a notice that E-Embarcadero service this Labor Day Weekend would not operate, but there was no mention of the F-line switch. The stated reason for the “bustitution” of the F-line on virtually no notice is that construction work is going on at Fourth and King Streets. They’ll be putting in new “special work” — switches and crossings — to create a connection to the new Central Subway, scheduled to open in 2019. We have been told that Muni’s construction division knew they were going to do this for at least six months, but that Muni Operations only learned about it a couple of weeks ago. The work involves taking one of the two tracks on King Street out of service at the intersection of Fourth.  The N-Judah and T-Third light rail lines run through that intersection, as well as the E-line historic streetcars on weekends. Muni has hurriedly slapped together a temporary boarding platform on King, have cut back the T-line trains… — Read More

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