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The PCC: A streetcar named success

In the early 20th century, streetcars ruled urban transit, but by 1934, trolleys were in trouble. While streamline design was sweeping North America, trolleys still looked like boxes, and were seen as noisy, drafty, and slow.

American transit executives formed the Presidents’ Conference Committee (PCC) to design a new streetcar that might lure riders back. Quiter, faster, and modern, the PCC car was a big leap forward, and was catching on when World War II interrupted production.

pcc-brooklyn-1001-barten.jpg
The first PCC was delivered to Brooklyn & Queens Transit in 1936. Alfred Barten collection.

Suburban growth and transit economics ultimately doomed all but a few North American streetcar systems. Still, the PCC is widely viewed as the best streetcar ever designed: handsome, comfortable, and easy to maintain. Some 4,500 PCCs served 33 North American cities, and many cities throughout Europe as well. The first cars were delivered in 1936 to Brooklyn, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. The very last PCC — Muni’s own No. 1040 — was delivered to San Francisco in 1952.

Muni currently operates 27 PCCs on the F-line:

  • 3 double-end ‘Torpedoes’ that were bought new by Muni in 1948 (Nos. 1007, 1010, and 1015)
  • 13 cars* that Muni purchased from Philadelphia in 1994 (Nos. 1050-1063)
  • 11 cars purchased from Newark, New Jersey, originally built for the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota (Nos. 1070-1080).

Muni’s PCCs are painted in tribute liveries representing most of the cities that once operated this great streetcar…from Mexico City to Toronto, from San Diego to Boston.

Meet the historic fleet »

Muni also owns 30 more PCCs — complete but unrestored — some of which were reacquired with financial support from Market Street Railway. Many of these additional PCCs are slated to be restored in the future, as required for planned service expansions; others will serve as parts cars.

View the full roster »

* A fourteenth ex-Philadelphia PCC — No. 1054 — served the F-line for nearly a decade, but was damaged beyond repair in November of 2003, and has been permanently removed from service. Today, PCC No. 1060 wears the Philadelphia ‘Cream Cheese’ tribute livery that originally graced car No. 1054.