“Debut” of Muni’s Oldest Bus for Centennial Day


1938 White motor coach No. 042 on display outside the San Francisco Railway Museum November 11, 2012. Brian Leadingham photo. Click to enlarge.

We just got word that Muni’s oldest surviving bus, a 1938 White model, will mark its return to the operating fleet on Centennial Day, December 28. Motor coach No. 042 will make at least one trip from our San Francisco Railway Museum to Coit Tower and back between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sorry, but we don’t have any more specific information than that to offer here, but we’ll have the latest information on site at the museum, located at the F-line Steuart Street stop.

The 74-year old bus will be wearing its original 1938 orange and black Muni livery for the first time since early in World War II, when the bus fleet was repainted blue and yellow. It’s also wearing its original number, 042, clearly establishing it as one of the first 50 buses Muni ever owned. After World War II, most of this group of buses was scrapped, but three were kept to work the 39-Coit route, which requires a tight turn around the tower parking lot. This coach was renumbered 062 at that time.

Following its retirement from regular service in 1975, the bus was painted into the 1950s green and cream “Wings” scheme and used in parades and other special events. Time finally took its toll on the engine and other components. Muni’s Woods Division team rebuilt the engine, resheeted some of the steel side panels, rebuilt the rusted out stepwells, and made many other repairs. In the process, the original paint scheme and number were restored to the bus. It was on display in November for one of the Sunday Centennial Celebration days, but was only cleared to carry passengers this week.

Also carrying passengers from 10-2 December 28: 1950 Marmon-Herrington trolley coach No. 776, a big hit on the November Centennial Sundays. It will depart from the Steuart Street bus stop next to the museum for short trips around downtown. All rides will be free on December 28 — in fact, the entire Muni system is free that day, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Muni’s very first day of operation, December 28, 1912.


1950 Marmon-Herrington trolley coach No. 776 in service at Spear and Market Streets, November 4, 2012. Rick Laubscher photo. Click to enlarge.

These are just added attractions to the streetcars expected to carry passengers on the F-line, as explained in our last post. Note, too, that we will be offering our Members and volunteers refreshments at the museum starting at 2 p.m. to thank them for their support.

If you can’t make it down for Centennial Day tomorrow, note that Muni plans to continue to celebrate the centennial in 2013. We are working with them for more special operations of vintage streetcars and buses, this time with much more notice so our Members and friends can plan their trips to enjoy these great vehicles.

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Celebrating Muni’s Big Day December 28


Muni’s famed streetcar No. 1, on its very first run, with Mayor James Rolph, Jr. at the controls, headed west on Geary at Jones, December 28, 1912. San Francisco History Room, San Francisco Public Library photo.

December 28 is the 100th anniversary of Muni’s opening day — the first big city publicly owned transit system in America. We wish we could all meet at Kearny and Market and ride Muni’s first streetcar out Geary Street — for a nickel. But we’ve teamed up with Muni to offer maybe the next best thing: riding that very same streetcar, No. 1, gloriously restored, along Market Street and The Embarcadero — for free!

Car 1 Howard.jpg

Car No. 1 as recently restored, thanks in part to the advocacy of Market Street Railway.

But (as the TV commecials say) wait, there’s more. ALL Muni service, including the cable cars, is free on December 28. We are working with Muni to put additional historic streetcars into regular F-line service that day, including 1914 car No. 162, 1948 PCCs 1006 and/or 1008, and 1952 PCC No. 1040. The historic streetcars will likely operate between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. We’re hoping to see 1950 trolley coach No. 776 operating downtown as well, but that hasn’t yet been finalized.

The center of action is going to be our San Francisco Railway Museum, across from the Ferry Building at the F-line Steuart Street stop, open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. that day. On that Centennial day, we’re offering Muni employees (with their ID cards) a 10% discount on all merchandise in our gift shop (the same deal our Members get every single day, whether at the museum’s gift shop or in our online store).

We’re planning special events for our Members that day, including a talk from our board chair and president, Rick Laubscher, on the status of the E-line and our vision for it. He’ll also answer your questions. That’ll happen at the museum at 2 p.m.

Don’t forget, all Muni rides are free that day, so pack up the friends and family and come to San Francisco — and the San Francisco Railway Museum — to celebrate Muni’s 100th birthday December 28.

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A Trip to the Boneyard!


1954 Hamburg, Germany tram No. 3557 (right) and two ex-Muni PCC streetcars are among the historic vehicles awaiting restoration at Muni’s "boneyard," as the streetcar storage facility is informally known. Todd Lappin photo.

Recently, a group of Market Street Railway board members joined a tour of Muni’s storage facility for streetcars awaiting restoration. This facility, near Islais Creek, exists in part because of our active advocacy, begun three decades ago, to preserve retired streetcars to meet possible future service needs. Already, several have been plucked from this purgatory and restored to service. We are working to see that more follow, as demand grows for additional service on the F-line and future E-line.
The photo above comes from Market Street Railway board member Todd Lappin, who tells all about the trip here, with many more photos. You can find more information on the tram on the right, from Hamburg, Germany, here.
The visit has also been chronicled by Market Street Railway board member Jeremy Whiteman, who co-chairs our calendar committee, and Jon Wollenhaupt. (Enjoy viewing these photos, but please respect the artists’ copyright rules as posted on their sites.)
As Todd points out, not all the streetcars in the “boneyard” will ultimately be restored. Some, with badly rusted or accident-damaged bodies, have already given up many parts needed to keep the current fleet running. We’re currently working with Muni to help determine the most viable candidates for restoration, to set priorities as the need comes up. You can see which streetcars are in storage and get a general idea of their condition by reviewing our complete streetcar roster.
As year-end approaches, it’s a good time to note that we depend entirely on memberships and donations to do what we do, along with thousands of hours of volunteer time and proceeds from gift sales at our San Francisco Railway Museum. Since you’re reading this post, you probably have some interest in our efforts, so please consider helping us. Thanks very much.

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Picture Your Child and Santa Right Here!

Yes, Santa is coming to our San Francisco Railway Museum, Saturday, December 22, from 1-4 p.m. Visit the museum and get your child or children’s photo professionally taken with Santa, right at the motorman’s controls of our exact replica of a 1911 San Francisco streetcar cab! (We’ll print your photo on the spot!). Your child can ring the streetcar gong and the conductor’s bell and be a junior motorman (or motorette!).
While you’re there, check out our exhibits and pick out some great last-minute gifts, including our exclusive Muni centennial items.
Just so you know, we’ll be closed December 24-25 for the Christmas holiday and again on December 29 and 30 for year-end inventory. But we will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Wednesday, December 26 through Friday, December 28, which of course is Muni’s centennial day. We’ll have special events at the museum on the 28th which we’ll talk about here in the next couple of days!

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Photo of the (Past) Moment: What Could Have Been

Few people today remember — or even know — that cable cars and streetcars crossed paths at Jackson and Van Ness until 1950. But here’s proof, in a snap taken by our board member Walt Vielbaum back then. PCC No. 1006 carries a load of raifans on the H-line, crossing paths with Washington-Jackson cable car No. 509 at Van Ness Avenue and Jackson Street, around 1949. Walt Vielbaum photo. Click to enlarge. This was what’s known as a “fantrip:” a… — Read More

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Muni Past and Present on KQED-FM

Market Street Railway board chair and president Rick Laubscher was one of the guests on Michael Krasny’s “Forum” on KQED-FM this morning, discussing Muni’s history in this, its centennial month. He was joined by Ed Reiskin, SFMTA director of transportation, and Jerry Cauthen of savemuni.com. Here’s a link to the audio of the one-hour segment. And here’s a link to the KQED page that links to historic photos and other goodies.

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San Francisco, in Color, in the 1940s

The GLBT Historical Society has a video on YouTube showing nine minutes of San Francisco scenes filmed by “gay filmmaker Harold T. O’Neal.” It opens with great night shots of Chinatown, then skips around the city before settling on a two-minute sequence on Market Street starting around five minutes in. That’s followed by a minute of cable car footage, including rare film of the O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde line, which disappeared in 1954. All well worth a look. They say… — Read More

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Exclusive PCC Model at our Museum Shop

Click to enlarge. Just in time for the holidays, we’re offering a new item our San Francisco Railway Museum and Gift Shop. It’s a high quality model of F-line PCC No. 1050. It’s in HO scale, seven inches long, and made by Bowser. It’s priced at $39.99, with members receiving a 10% discount! To be clear, this is a non-operating vehicle. Bowser makes powered PCC models in HO scale, but they cost anywhere from $125 to $260. Several F-line cars… — Read More

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