Today’s E-Embarcadero line demonstration service from Pier 39 to Caltrain showed, on the one hand, how smoothly the vintage streetcars can share the tracks with N-Judah and T-Third Street light rail vehicles. On the other hand, it demonstrated several areas — none surprising — that need to be addressed before regular service can begin. Identifying problems was a key reason that Muni COO Ken McDonald wanted the demo service, which will be repeated from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday, September 14th.
For example, Market Street Railway quickly posted signs at the southern Embarcadero stops directing E-line riders to use the low-level side platforms — not the high-level center Muni Metro platforms — but not surprisingly, many riders missed them. We have pledged to create a full set of permanent signage for the E-line to address that problem at the time regular service begins.
A technical glitch that needs fixing — hopefully before the next demo on September 14th — is the northbound switch at Folsom, where the E-line diverges from the N and T which go into the subway there. That switch, which should be automatic, wasn’t working today, so conductors on the vintage trolleys had to get out and throw it by hand.
Plenty of riders came out to take part in the free demonstration service, especially later in the morning. And it’s a good thing that the E-Embarcadero streetcars were on the line because, north of the Ferry Building they were needed to reduce the crush loads on the F-line. Muni added three shuttle buses on top of the regularly scheduled vintage shuttles, and everything was packed. Apparently, the Mayor’s Sunday Streets idea worked to get more people to the Wharf, instead of fewer, as Wharf merchants had feared. The closed northbound traffic lanes of The Embarcadero were filled with skaters, walkers, and bikers (including one guy on a penny-farthing bike, what a hoot!). The two vintage streercars out on the E-line — PCC No. 1007 and New Orleans ‘Desire’ No. 952 — looked right in place!
Get ready for the next demonstration E-line service, Sunday, September 14th from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.