Some Things to be Thankful For

With all the grousing people like to do about Muni — and yes, there could certainly be improvements in many areas — it’s only fair to point out the positives, especially at this time of year.

Streetcar no. 1010 on 17th Street

First and foremost, be grateful for the commitment Muni makes to the vintage streetcar service. Yes, it takes lots of advocacy and assistance to make the service what it is, but I never forget that almost no other big city transit agency would even consider something like this — no matter how well it works.
Thanks for those Muni team members that go the extra mile:  operators who care about what they’re doing, helping passengers with information, calling the stops, making visitors feel welcome; the maintenance crews that keep the cars looking great and running well in the face of tremendous service demands (don’t try running a bus that hard year after year!); and for the capital projects folks who have helped get long-stalled projects like Geneva covered storage, finally moving forward. (No, not everyone cares, but I believe it’s better than it was in many areas.)
Recognize the ongoing support by generations of elected and appointed officials in San Francisco — Mayors, members of the Board of Supervisors, SFMTA Board members, and others. The steady support for the vintage streetcars makes the renovation of additional equipment, planning for extensions, etc., possible, because the existence of the service itself is not under threat.
Be glad that Muni has renewed its focus on the historic flavor of the cable car system, adding additional vintage liveries to the Powell line and reaching an agreement to keep the current artifact collection at the Cable Car Museum.
I’d sum up by saying that in 25 years of working with Muni leadership and front-line people, I believe the commitment to operating vintage transit as an integrated, important part of the Muni system is stronger than it has been in many years — because top leadership understands the value vintage transit brings to the city, and to Muni’s own image.  There have been many Thanksgivings in the past quarter-century when that was far from true.
And on our non-profit’s side of the fence, I’m grateful for the donations of time and money from our 1,200 members that make our advocacy and education possible; to the tremendous numbers of hours put in by our volunteers who both manage our organization and carry out our projects, for the great work of our museum team day in and day out, and for the ongoing stream of new folks who offer their skills and talents without asking for compensation, such as the photographers Kevin Sheridan and Todd Lappin (who took this shot the other day at 17th and Castro). It’s great to be part of this team.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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The Past is the Present in San Francisco

PCC Streetcar nos. 1050 & 1051 at Beach & Jones

The moment is a quiet Sunday night at Fisherman’s Wharf. The photo is of PCCs 1051 and 1050, both resplendent in Muni’s “Green & Cream” paint scheme. 1050 sports the “Wings” while 1051 is painted in the later “Simplified” version.
They are seen in a classic rail fan 3/4 view, nothing to get overly excited about. But the message that this photo carries is worth its weight in gold. Anyone who was born or came to San Francisco after 1982 missed the era of seven day a week PCC operation. Prior to the start of that decade Muni’s street railway fleet consisted entirely of PCCs. In 1982 these sleek and smooth streamliners where replaced by modern Light Rail Vehicles. Life and its course of events can be an interesting thing, and the way that life over time comes full circle never fails to amaze me.
Thanks to the preservation efforts of Market Street Railway and San Francisco Muni these vehicles again got a chance to roam the streets of the city. For those who missed out it is still possible to see, as in the photo above. What Muni might have looked like some 30 or so years ago. This is living history, and to the benefit of San Francisco’s residents and visitors the past is the present!

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SF Board of Supervisors Hearing On Muni Crime

O'Shaunessy Muni Logo

Crime in San Francisco has been on the decline lately, with a notable exception. In addition to several high profile accidents and service outages in the several months, crime on board Muni vehicles is up as well.
The City Operations and Neighborhood Service (CONS) Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is holding a hearing about crime onboard Muni vehicles on this coming Monday, November 23 at 11:00 AM.
Boe Howard, legal aide to committee chair and District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty, contacted us today for help getting the word out asking for witnesses. “We are seeking individuals that have witnessed or experienced crime on MUNI and anyone who has had a good experience on MUNI with SFPD.”
The hearing will be held at City Hall in room 250, the Board of Supervisors chambers.

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First PCC Streetcar Leaves for Rehab

1071 bound for Brookville

In this case, it needs to recover its nervous system.  Streetcar No. 1071, painted in the original livery it ran in when new in Minneapolis-St. Paul in the late 1940s, left Muni’s Geneva Division today for a cross-country trip to Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania where it will be completely rewired.
It’s the first of 16 PCCs to leave San Francisco under an $18 million contract that will double Muni’s active PCC fleet when all the work is completed by the end of 2011. This particular car should be back by mid-October of next year.

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Happy Centennial, Cliff House!

Hey, that’s not the Cliff House! No, but that’s how you got there. The current incarnation of the Cliff House celebrated its centennial tonight with a fundraiser benefiting our friends at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. (The site at Point Lobos has been a tourist destination since before the Civil War.)  The Chronicle called out its biggest gun, Carl Nolte, to, er, chronicle the Cliff House’s history, enhanced by a cool photo portfolio on SFGate.com. Rather than duplicate those… — Read More

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Muni Buying Cable Car Artifacts at Museum

The news coverage sounds confusing. Muni is planning to spend $660,000 to buy cable car artifacts from the museum at its own cable car barn and powerhouse at Washington and Mason Streets. What’s up with that? The Examiner and Chronicle each ran stories which generated head-scratching comments from readers. You need to know the backstory to get it clear. In 1967, Muni added a mezzanine area to the cable car barn and powerhouse, allowing the public to get a clear… — Read More

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