Milestone for Fort Mason Streetcar Extension

The National Park Service and cooperating agency project partners, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Federal Transit Administration have announced the approved Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Extension of Muni’s historic streetcar service to Fort Mason Center. The document itself can be downloaded through the link above.


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Photomontage showing a PCC streetcar emerging from the historic Fort Mason railroad tunnel at the foot of Van Ness Avenue.

This is an important milestone, as it marks the completion of the environmental process for the extension, allowing it to seek funding for design and then construction. Market Street Railway continues to be active in suggesting potential sources of funding for this important project, working in collaboration with stakeholders along the northeastern waterfront.
More details on the EIS process, including maps and drawings, are here. We will keep you up to date here on future developments.

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“Streetcar Artist” Retires


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Carole Gilbert on March 14, 2013, her last day on the job, with historic maintenance superintendent Karl Johnson at Cameron Beach Division.

With the same modesty that she brought to her artistry at Muni for many years, Carole Gilbert stepped away from her streetcars last Friday, retiring quietly to enjoy life. Never one to draw attention to herself, Carole told few people of her plans. She leaves a great legacy in Muni’s beautifully maintained vintage streetcar fleet, which she and her team of dedicated painters kept looking great — and authentic.
While she didn’t seek recognition, our board member Todd Lappin managed to get her to talk about her work a few years ago here on our website. Definitely worth a read.
Carole retires with our best wishes and great respect for her dedication to her craft and her attention to detail.

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Shuttle Diplomacy?

We’ve learned that Muni is going to greatly increase the number of F-line shuttle runs in the coming months. These are vintage streetcars that run on just the waterfront portion of the F-line, between the Ferry Building (and our museum!) and Fisherman’s Wharf.
There are three shuttle runs most days now, usually filled with the oldest streetcars, like Muni’s No. 1 and 162, Melbourne No. 496, or, in good weather, the popular Blackpool boat tram. But with additional runs, they will have to add other streetcars as well. This week, the newly restored double-end PCCs, Nos. 1008 and 1009 have been seen on the shuttle.


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Newly restored PCC No. 1009, honoring Dallas Railway & Terminal, takes the turn from Steuart onto Mission as part of its shuttle loop, March 13, 2013. Rick Laubscher photo. Click to enlarge.

The extra service is expected to be needed to accommodate the crowds visiting the newly relocated Exploratorium science museum, opening its world-class facility on Pier 15 next month. But as is well known at Muni, and by regular users of the F-line on The Embarcadero, the existing shuttle service is spotty at best.
Riding a regular F-line run along Market today, I got into conversation with a veteran F-line operator, who gave me a new perspective on the shuttles. “When they started them up years ago, the crews worked hard at helping the rest of us out,” this operator told me. “They waited at their layover point [on the Embarcadero, just south of Don Chee Way, where the regular F-line cars make the turn onto the waterfront]. If they saw a crowd gathering at the Ferry Building platform, they’d go pick it up. Now, it seems they just want to sit there. They let us go through, already crowded, to try to jam those people on. Then they just follow right behind us, empty.”
The operator noted that some shuttle crews take very long breaks after very short trips, while “I go all the way to Castro and then back to the Wharf and my longest break is seven minutes.”
We know Muni/SFMTA management has periodically tried to cut down on the excessive shuttle layovers. It’s interesting, though, to get the perspective of another operator. This operator doesn’t see it as a management-labor issue, but rather an issue of some workers making it harder on their peers by not making the runs they’re supposed to make.
If Muni’s going to add extra runs along The Embarcadero, we hope they are able to keep them moving better than has been the case all these years. Some diplomatic conversation with the shuttle crews might be of help. Many are excellent operators who may have just fallen into bad habits. Alternatively, firm, enforced scheduling may be needed.
Otherwise, an expanded Embarcadero shuttle service could resemble the California Cable Car line, which sometimes has ONE car actually carrying people along the street while FIVE crews relax at the eastern terminal near Market Street.
But that’s another story.

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Sunday Street(car)s!

San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) mounted the latest Sunday Streets celebration March 10, 2013, along The Embarcadero. We thought what better way to see it than from Muni’s 1934 boat tram from Blackpool, England. Come along for the ride in this video we put together!

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Photo of the Moment: Less Darkness, More Daylight

As this great Jeremy Whiteman photo demonstrates, some of the F-line streetcars on the vintage runs (scheduled for daylight hours) have been headed back to Cameron Beach Yard after dark these winter days. But with spring nigh, and Daylight Savings Time imminent (tonight, as this is written), the vintage streetcars like 1928 Melbourne No. 496 will be wrapping up their day’s work in daylight.

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Visit Us This Weekend at the SF History Expo

Market Street Railway and the San Francisco Railway Museum invite you to visit us at the third annual San Francisco History Expo. This great event takes place Saturday, March 2 from 10-5 and Sunday, March 5, from 10-4, at the historic Old U.S. Mint at Fifth and Mission Streets, worth a visit by itself. Our display of San Francisco transit artifacts at the first History Expo in 2011. This amazing event, sponsored by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society,… — Read More

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