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Update: 916 Test Cut Short; Not Out the Rest of the Weekend

 

Muni tests cars for a good reason before they enter service. The “newest” member of the vintage fleet, 1946 Melbourne Tram 916, came out this morning for what was supposed to be two 12-hour days of testing along The Embarcadero and the T-line as far as Muni Metro East, to check out its systems following a recent rebuilding of its trucks.

The operating crew said the car ran like a dream from a propulsion and braking standpoint in its first couple of trips, but unfortunately, it developed a hot wheel bearing late Saturday morning and has safely returned to Cameron Beach Yard, where it will be fixed by the maintenance team., They crew is excited about taking it out again soon, though it will almost certainly NOT be out Sunday, July 22.

The car looks great. Here’s a peek at its interior, taken before the test. Love those upholstered seats.

We’ll let you know when the 916 will be out again. Meanwhile, enjoy Melbourne 496 on the E-line this weekend.

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Double Dose of Down Under This Weekend

UPDATE, Saturday July 21, 11:00 a.m. — Muni tests cars for a good reason before they enter service. The 916 developed a hot wheel bearing this morning and has safely returned to Cameron Beach Yard, where it will be fixed by the maintenance team.

The operating crew said the car ran like a dream from a propulsion and braking standpoint, and they’re excited about taking it out again soon, though it will almost certainly not be out Sunday, July 22.

We’ll let you know when the 916 will be out again. Meanwhile, enjoy Melbourne 496 this weekend.

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It’s shaping up as a special weekend on The Embarcadero July 21 and 22, as Melbourne trams built 18 years apart wish San Franciscans and visitors a double “G’Day”.

As our Members and friends know, Market Street Railway has been strongly advocating that Muni operate Melbourne W2 class tram 496 (built 1928) regularly on the E-line (it’s on the left in the photo above and in action on King Street, below).

Overcoming reluctance from some quarters inside Muni, the 496 has now been successfully operating on the E-line every day for some time, delighting passengers. It is scheduled to be on its regular runs this weekend, and you can ride it along the waterfront, AND on its end-of-day trip home to its “sleeping quarters”, Cameron Beach Yard (where the photo above was taken July 10) you can ride it out Market Street on the F-line and then down Church Street on the J-line to Balboa Park, for just the regular Muni fare, because all historic streetcars are in service until the reach the car barn.

This “pull-in” run for Car 496 should pass our San Francisco Railway Museum (Steuart Street stop) outbound on the F-line around 5:35 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, if it’s on schedule. You can check its whereabouts anytime via NextMuni, through this link.

But wait, there’s more.

[NOTE: See update above; this has changed.] Come down to The Embarcadero Saturday or Sunday and you’ll also see (but won’t yet be able to ride) 496’s baby brother, SW6 Class 916, built in 1946 (on the right in the top photo, and below). It has just completed protracted, on-and-off renovations and adaptation to San Francisco standards after being gifted to San Francisco in 2009, with Market Street Railway’s assistance. The gift came from the Victoria State Government in Australia, which owns the Melbourne trams. Both days, the 916 will leave Cameron Beach Yard around 6 a.m., run up and down The Embarcadero and perhaps down the T-line as far as Muni Metro East (at 25th Street), until around 5 p.m., when it will head home to Cameron Beach. The crew will checking systems and reliability before carrying its first paying passengers in San Francisco, which should happen in just a matter of weeks now.

 

We’ll let you know when the 916 is ready to launch into regular service, but for now, check out the waterfront this weekend for an extra taste of Melbourne!

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Meet Cable Car Historian Val Lupiz July 18

San Francisco has a tradition of unique personalities who share a deep love of this special place. Nothing is more special in our special cities than the cable cars, and no one has a deeper love for our rolling National Historic Landmark than Val Lupiz.

Val just celebrated his 19th anniversary as a cable car gripman, so he knows today’s system inside out. He also knows cable car history better than almost anyone else. That photo, above, is Val’s creation: inserting himself into the grip window of a Castro Street cable car, which disappeared from the streets in 1941.

Come hear Val share stories and thoughts at the next installment of our speaker series called Inside Track – Live! 

It’s Wednesday, July 18 at 7:00 p.m. at the San Francisco Railway Museum, 77 Steuart Street across from the Ferry Building. (F-line Steuart Street stop; BART/Muni Metro Embarcadero Station; two blocks from the California Street cable car terminal.)

This event is FREE to Market Street Railway members, as part of our effort to thank members for supporting our advocacy for cable cars and historic streetcars. We request a $10 donation from non-members, but you can sign up for a membership (as low as $45 annually) on the spot and waive that requirement. (Or do it here.)

This is going to be a special evening. Don’t miss it.

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“The bell is charming; the horn works”

 

The headline above is a great quote from a great story in Curbed SF about a dad and his two kids riding every Muni line terminal to terminal this summer. This installment includes the F-line where they rode the newest PCC to return to service following rebuilding, Car 1050 (pictured above in yet another calendar-worthy photo from Traci Cox). The author, Mc Allen, describes rolling along The Embarcadero on the “retro delight” PCC, “exceptionally maintained as rolling museums”.

Along the way, since it’s a mostly tourist-laced area, the operator chimed the train’s bell several times to alert pedestrians wading into intersections. She also honked the rarely used yet very loud train horn, including a 40 second series of blasts at a clueless Uber driver trying to enter a “streetcars only” trackway along Pier 39.

After we made it to the end of the line, I asked the operator how she decides between the bell and the horn. She replied with the quote of the day: The bell is charming; the horn works.”

Fans know that in San Francisco and most other PCC cities, the streetcars only had a bell (actually called a gong) for warning pedestrians. Under modern safety regulations, the streetcars now also have a VERY loud horn.

The whole story is a nice shout-out to Muni and a must-read for any transit fan.

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“Zurich” Car to Return To Service Soon?

Look what was testing in Cameron Beach Yard on Sunday (July 8).

Car 737, Muni’s lone European-style PCC streetcar has been out of service for some time. Built in 1952 for Brussels, Belgium, acquired by Muni in 2004, and painted (at then-Mayor Gavin Newsom’s request) to honor San Francisco’s sister city of Zurich, Switzerland (which ran similar-looking cars) it has needed parts and maintenance attention. But when word came that the Mayor of Zurich was coming to San Francisco later this year, it suddenly got that attention. We watched it glide through the yard smoothly. This video shows it moving slowly along the ladder tracks, but when it did an acceleration test on 14 Track, it zipped right along.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll even see it in service on the F-line one of these days.

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Buses on F-line, No E-line Sunday, June 24

The Pride Parade has been San Francisco’s summer kickoff celebration for more than decades now, with huge throngs lining Market Street to watch almost 300 parade units go by.

Back in the 1980s, historic streetcars were actually part of the parade, shown here in 1983, as a Blackpool boat tram and Muni’s famed Car 1 participated. The boat tram’s authentic destination sign seemed particularly appropriate.

This year, though, streetcars will be completely absent from the parade route, not only for the duration of the event, but for the entire day and night of Sunday, June 24. Muni is operating substitute buses instead, via Mission Street.

The fact that the historic streetcar fleet has moved back to Cameron Beach Yard (across from the Balboa Park BART station) from its temporary home the past four years at Muni Metro East (in Dogpatch on the T-line), means E-Embarcadero line streetcars would have to head into service early and stay out until the parade route clears, since they must now use Market Street going into and out of service. Rather than do that, Muni Operations has cancelled E-line service altogether on Sunday.

 

So don’t look for any vintage streetcars on the street at all Sunday, June 24. No E-line service from the Ferry Building (shown above) to the Giants’ game, no streetcars to offer visitors to the city, or Pride Parade participants or spectators, a fun ride to Fisherman’s Wharf. As we have reported here before, any excuse to shut down or impede the E-line sounds like a good excuse to certain people in Muni Operations. (Important note: Muni has managed to operate streetcars along The Embarcadero on numerous occasions in the past when Market Street was blocked to transit. They know how to do it.)

By the way, June 23 marks the 35th anniversary of the opening of the first Historic Trolley Festival. We’ve found some never-before published photos of that memorable event that we’re publishing in the next issue of our member magazine, Inside Track, as part of a look back at the demonstration project that proved the value of historic streetcars as part of Muni’s daily operations. You can receive it by joining Market Street Railway.

 

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Historic Streetcars Move Back Home Tonight

After four years camping out unprotected at Muni Metro East, just off Third Street in Dogpatch, Muni’s historic fleet moves back to its regular home at Cameron Beach Yard at Geneva and San Jose Avenues in the Excelsior District tonight.

On June 21, 2014, the streamlined PCC streetcars were moved out of Cameron Beach Yard, the former Geneva Division, which has housed San Francisco streetcars since 1900. This was done in order to replace all the track across the street at the Curtis E. Green Light Rail Facility, which houses more than half of Muni’s LRVs (modern streetcars). To allow the contractor to replace the Green Division track, many of the LRVs normally stored there were moved to Cameron Beach for the duration, which in turn shoved the historic cars to Muni Metro East, where there was more room.

That track replacement job was supposed to take 18 months. Almost four years to the day, the PCCs are finally returning home. Contracting delays have been cited for the cars’ prolonged absence.

We will have a detailed story on the exile of the historic fleet in the upcoming issue of our member magazine, Inside Track. (You can join Market Street Railway if you’re not already a member and receive this great quarterly magazine.)

But this is an alert to photographers and fans that all cars on the E- and F-lines today will pull into Cameron Beach Yard instead of Muni Metro East at the conclusion of their scheduled runs. This includes both PCCs and Milan trams. Other operable cars will be moved one at a time either today or over the weekend, so keep your eyes open for action along the J-line, which will again be the route the streetcars use going to and from their storage and maintenance facility, replacing the T-line route used through Mission Bay to access Muni Metro East.

And good news: as we have advocated for, vintage streetcars entering or leaving F- and E-line service WILL carry passengers on their way to and from Cameron Beach. Muni announced this yesterday.

As the streetcars travel to and from Cameron Beach to the start and end of their route, they will be running in revenue service. This means they will be picking up and dropping off passengers along the J Church route between Balboa Park and Church and 17th Street in the early morning and evening.

If any of you experience a vintage streetcar passing you by on the J-line on its pull-in or pull-out trips, please let us know at info@streetcar.org.  We want to make sure these cars provide all the service that’s promised.  Thanks, and welcome home, vintage fleet!

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Last Public Vintage Streetcar Charter of 2018: June 16

Much to our disappointment, Muni is suspending historic streetcar charters for seven months starting June 22, (except for our arrangements Operators’ Circle members charter on September 7). They cite, among other things, a shutdown of the T-line this fall due to construction of a new platform for the Warriors’ arena in Mission Bay. Whatever the merit of the reason, to the best of knowledge, there will be only one historic streetcar charter open to all Market Street Railway members and to the public for the remainder of 2018.

And it’s a good one. You can ride the J-Church just like they did 100 years ago, in Muni’s flagship Car 1 (with Melbourne 496 as the backup if for any reason Car 1 cannot operate).  

Car 1 on a charter in Dolores Park, on the J-line, way back in 1940!

Sign up here!  All proceeds go to support Market Street Railway in its work to keep San Francisco’s transit history alive.  Don’t miss it. 

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2019 Museums in Motion Calendar is Here!

This may be our best calendar yet. Great images from great photographers who willingly share their talent to celebrate San Francisco’s historic streetcars and cable cars, and, importantly to us, help us raise funds to advocate for these “Museums in Motion” and help keep them looking great.

Thanks to this year’s photographers: Traci Cox, Adolfo Echeverry, Peter Ehrlich, Matt Lee, Kevin Mueller, Bernard Spragg, Jeremy Whiteman, and Wayne Worden.

Bonus: a photo history of the L-Taraval, celebrating its centennial in 2019.

It’s now available for $12.95 at our San Francisco Railway Museum, and in our Online Store.  And those of you ordering online, we’ve managed to significantly reduce the shipping cost this year. Don’t wait; these will sell out.

Oh, and you prospective photographers for future calendars, we’re accepting submittals for our 2020 calendar already on our Flickr Group.  Follow the instructions there in the first message on the page; photos we don’t end up using in 2020 will automatically be considered for inclusion in future calendars as long as they meet the technical requirements.

 

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Welcome Home, 162!

One of Muni’s original streetcars, Car 162, built in 1914 by the Jewett Car Company of Ohio, returned to San Francisco today following extensive accident repairs by the firm of Carlos Guzman, Inc. in Signal Hill, near Long Beach.

The streetcar was badly damaged on January 4, 2014, when it collided with a semi-truck that ran a red light in front of the streetcar on The Embarcadero at Bay Street. Muni elected to send the car to a contractor for repairs instead of repairing it in-house.

Car 162 was unloaded at Muni Metro East in the morning of Monday, April 23, 2018. Close inspections will be performed to ensure all the mechanical and electrical components are functioning as they should be. Then, the car will be tested for 1,000 miles before reentering service. Simultaneously, Muni is “burning in” PCCs returning from their rebuilding at Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania for the same 1,000 miles (Car 1050 is currently in that process, with Car 1053 awaiting its turn) and similarly testing newly arrived Siemens LRV-4s, of which 20+ are now on the property, with maybe half of those accepted. So it may take time to get the 162 on the street.

These photos were taken as the car was being unloaded; access to the interior was not available at that point, but it was clear that the cosmetic quality of the restoration is superb, with all seats stripped and freshly painted and varnished, and the headliner (ceiling) stripped and painted in the end sections, varnished in the center section.

We will have a feature article on the restoration of the 162 in the next issue of our member magazine, Inside Track. To get it, you’ve got to be a Member of Market Street Railway, so please take this opportunity to join us!

We hope that the 162 will be accepted in time to provide substantial days of service this summer on the E-Embarcadero line.

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