Kudos for the E-line

Looks like the E-Embarcadero streetcar line had a real coming out party this past weekend.
The Saturday and Sunday service, tied to the America’s Cup World Series races, got lots of attention from folks up and down the waterfront, who realized what PERMANENT E-line service could do to stimulate economic activity and improve transit for residents and visitors alike.

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PCC No. 1010 on the E-Embarcadero line at Pier 28, August 25, 2012. Jeremy Whiteman photo.

Perhaps the best overall summary came from Nellie Tran on livesoma.com, emphasizing the quality of the vintage streetcars and how well they fit into the modern South Beach/Mission Bay environment:
> “As for my own opinion on the E Line- I think it’d be great to have the E Line connecting this part of town to Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, and beyond. With all the new housing coming up in Mission Bay, Caltrain ridership on the rise, the tech boom, the continuing popularity of AT&T Park, and the potential Warriors Arena, I can easily imagine the E Line getting just as many riders boarding at the stops near the Caltrain and ballpark as there had been near the Ferry Building. It would be a great service to have that direct connection to the northern waterfront.”
With two Giants games during the weekend service, the E-line proved its worth in that capacity, carrying lots of happy fans from the northeastern Waterfront area without having to transfer. It’s easy to see a future symbiotic relationship between Wharf attractions and Giants games, with people coming up from the Peninsula on Caltrain or from the East Bay on BART and using the E-line to “make a day of it” by dining at the Wharf and taking in a game. Same would be true should the Warriors arena on Piers 30-32 come to fruition, of course. As every transit professional knows, convenience and attractiveness is the Holy Grail to attract people from their automobiles onto transit, and the Caltrain/BART-E-line connection would certainly provide that.
More importantly from a city perspective, the E-line service was strongly welcomed by the South Beach-Rincon Hill-Mission Bay neighborhoods. We joined with their neighborhood association to turn out some 30 volunteers to provide information to riders at stops and stations along the E-line, and from the feedback they got, it was much appreciated. Want to add a shout out here to Paul Lucas, our ace volunteer who did a ton of work updating our docent handbook and customizing it for the E-line. Thanks, Paul!
We’ve heard from leaders of the Fisherman’s Wharf Association, the Exploratorium (soon to open at Pier 15), the South Beach-Rincon Hill-Mission Bay Neighborhood Association, UCSF, and others, with words of praise for Muni’s E-line trial, and suggestions for making it even better the next time, during Fleet Week, October 4-8.
Of course, few things work perfectly the first time. On Sunday, there were only four E-line streetcars on the line, instead of the scheduled five, because they ended up a crew short with no backup. As a result, some people waited more than 30 minutes for their ride, while looking at signs predicting service “about every 15 minutes.” And none of the three most historic Muni streetcars, Nos. 1, 130, and 162 (also among the largest capacity streetcars in the fleet) made it out over the weekend, even though significant effort had been expended by Muni to get them ready.
On the other hand, 1948 Muni PCC No. 1008 made its debut after a full restoration, to rave reviews. Here’s a video by volunteer Jamie Whitaker of 1008 passing 1928 Melbourne No. 496, looking right at home at Folsom Station.

Finally, we have to mention how much at home the E-line streetcars looked while they were pulling in and out of service at their weekend home, Metro East. They used the T-line tracks on Third Street to do this. We think it’s a demonstration of how much value there would be in extending the E-line to Pier 70 in Dogpatch, as MSR has long advocated. Here’s a great shot of No. 1008 passing an LRV near the UCSF campus, with AT&T Park in the background.

PCC No. 1008 passes an LRV on the T-line on its way into E-line service on Third Street on the UCSF campus, August 16, 2012. Kevin Sheridan photo. Click to enlarge.

Join us — and volunteer — for the next E-line operation October 4-8.

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E-line Weekend Features Debut of No. 1008

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On its first day of service, restored 1948 Muni PCC No. 1008 passes an LRV as it heads for the last E-line stop, Caltrain, after dropping off a swinging load of baseball fans at AT&T Park for the Giants-Braves game. Rick Laubscher photo. Click to enlarge.

The first day of this weekend’s E-line service featured the passenger-carrying debut of Muni double-end PCC No. 1008. The car, built in 1948, carried passengers in its original double-end configuration for about seven years, then was converted to a single-end car for the rest of its (first) passenger life. In the early 1980s, it was converted into a work car, then was sent out for full restoration by Brookville Equipment Company of Pennsylvania.
Today, following 1,000 miles of testing and “burn in,” it appeared for its first day of revenue service where it was needed most: the two-day America’s Cup-related special service on the E-line from Fisherman’s Wharf to Caltrain. Operator Angel Carvajal, at the controls of No. 1008 today, also operated it extensively during its burn-in period on the K, L, and M lines and says it runs like a dream, with good braking and acceleration.

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A full load of Giants fans rides No. 1008 to AT&T Park on August 25, showing how popular regular E-line service would be on game days. Rick Laubscher photo. Click to enlarge.

No. 1008 shared the Saturday’s E-line service with three 1948 PCCs that were restored with the first wave of F-line streetcars in the early 1990s, Nos. 1007, 1010, and 1015. Vintage 1928 Melbourne double-end tram No. 496 was on the line too.
Market Street Railway and the South Beach, Rincon Hill, and Mission Bay Neighborhood Association teamed up to provide more than 20 volunteer docents to help riders find the right platform for the E-line cars and answer questions. Thanks to Bruce Agid and Nick Figone for leading our volunteer efforts, and to all the volunteers who generously gave theri time.
The E-line service will be back again as part of Fleet Week from October 4-8. It is likely that No. 1008 will be joined by its twin, No. 1006, for that service. No. 1006, the second of the four double-end PCCs to return rebuilt from Brookville, arrived at Muni August 24 and will soon enter testing. It will be followed by Nos. 1009 and 1011, still under restoration at Brookville.

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Cate Blanchett and Woody Allen Film on a Streetcar

The town’s been buzzing about the locations being used for Woody Allen’s new movie now being filmed. No one knows the title yet (if it even has one), but today we learned at least one scene is being filmed on a Muni PCC streetcar, No. 1060, to be precise.


Cate Blanchett in the doorway of F-line streetcar No. 1060 during filming of Woody Allen’s new movie in San Francisco, August 24, 2012. Photo copyright Rick Laubscher.

That’s Cate Blanchett in the doorway, waiting with the car on the Eleventh Street wye trackage, out of the way of revenue streetcars. We were told by the crew member that they would be shooting a scene as the streetcar rolled down Market Street. The last time a film crew drew so much interest on a rail vehicle on Market was 1906!
Of course, the F-line streetcars have been used in movies and TV commercials numerous times before. The publicity’s great, and those filming fees can’t hurt either.

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Ride the E-line Streetcars August 25 and 26!

The details are pretty well worked out now. Muni’s E-Embarcadero historic streetcar line will operate Saturday and Sunday, August 25 and 26, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. in conjunction with the America’s Cup World Series event.
The E-line’s vintage double-end streetcars will run from the Fisherman’s Wharf F-line terminal at Jones and Beach Streets along F-line tracks past the Ferry Building, but where the F-line turns west to head up Market Street, the E-line cars will continue south on track built years ago just for them, connecting with the Muni Metro N and T lines where they emerge from the subway at The Embarcadero and Folsom Street. From there, the E-line cars will share tracks (but not platforms–see below) with the N and T trains to a terminal at the Caltrain Depot.

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1914 Muni streetcar No. 162 seen through the window of a double-ended PCC as both traverse the E-line at Mission and The Embarcadero during special demonstration service in September 2008. Rick Laubscher photo. Click to enlarge.

South of Folsom, the E-line cars will use low-level platforms on the right side of the streetcars, with ramps for wheelchairs. These are separate from the center platforms used by the Breda light rail vehicles on the N and T lines. Market Street Railway is helping Muni put up temporary signage to make the distinction clear to riders.
We’re also joining with the South Beach-Rincon Hill-Mission Bay Neighborhood Association to post volunteers at key stops during the service to help riders and offer information about our advocacy for making the E-line permanent. If you’d like to volunteer, click here. Thanks to Bruce Agid, Nick Figone, and Paul Lucas for all their efforts on the volunteer activity.

The streetcars expected to be used for the service include two 1914 Muni streetcars, Nos. 130 (returning to service after an extended absence) and 162. They are likely to be joined by vintage 1928 Melbourne tram No. 496. Double-ended PCCs will round out the service, all from Muni’s original 1948 group of these rare cars. Nos 1007, 1010, and 1015 have been in regular F-line service for more than 15 years, and No. 1008, recently returned after rebuilding, may possibly have been accepted for service by that date.
There will be five streetcars at a time in E-line service on those dates; headways (time between cars) are expected to average 15 minutes.
Pass the word around to friends and turn out for this very special operation and show your support for the permanent E-line, one of our top priorities.
Click here for the complete SFMTA brochure showing all the special services (and bike tips!) for America’s Cup World Series events. You can download a PDF there as well.

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The 2013 Museums in Motion Calendar is Here!

Celebrate the first year of Muni’s second century with thirteen great color photos of our city’s historic streetcars and cable cars. Plus twelve vintage black and white photos of San Francisco’s bygone transit days. And a complete timeline and narrative of Muni’s first century. All this for just $12.95. Ten percent less for members! It’s all thanks to the leadership of our volunteer calendar creators, led by Jeremy Whiteman and Kevin Sheridan, with photos by those gentlemen, plus Jason Brickman,… — Read More

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Chron plays Catch Up on Market Street

John King, the Chronicle’s urban design writer, has a good piece today about some aspects of the proposed Market Street redesign. They’re about six weeks behind us though, when it comes to discussing the number of streetcar stops that should be retained as part of the revamp of our main street. A key goal of the Better Market Street project is to make the street better for transit and bikes.Autos? Eh, not so much. John called us to get our… — Read More

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Streetcar-Subaru Sandwich at First and Market

Milan tram No. 1811 rear-ended a Subaru at First and Market Streets this noon hour, pushing it into the trolley coach in front and sending three people to the hospital. Photo by Steve Ferrario. Muni spokesman Paul Rose told Bay City News said the two occupants of the car were taken to the hospital as a precaution, while a passenger in the streetcar was also hospitalized but walked into the ambulance. Rose says Muni is investigating the cause of the… — Read More

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First Double-End PCC in Testing

Muni PCC No. 1008 is back on the streets of San Francisco, equipped to carry passengers for the first time in a third of a century. The vintage 1948 streetcar, one of the largest PCC models ever built, has started its testing phase after arriving from Brookville Equipment Company of Pennsylvania, which completely rebuilt it. This streetcar was the very first one to run in the Muni Metro subway, using a specially fitted pantograph to test the overhead in the… — Read More

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