Plain Jane on the Way to a Makeover

Our San Francisco Railway Museum manager, Brian Leadingham, spotted this mystery PCC streetcar gliding by the museum the other day and snapped this quick shot. It’s No. 1056, which has been out of service for quite some time after cracks were found in the part of the frame that attaches the car to one of its trucks (wheel sets). The paint shop was taking the opportunity to repaint the car and had gotten the base coat of cream on when it was decided not to finish the repairs.
Reason: Muni is currently waiting for bids from contractors to renovate the original F-line fleet of 16 PCCs (Nos. 1050-1053, 1055-1063, 1007, 1010 and 1015). These streetcars have seen much heavier use than originally anticipated, due to the popularity of the F-line. The bodies will be fully cleared of rust (the original contractor did a poor job of this 20 years ago), the wiring will be updated, and they will gain the same new propulsion equipment, faithfully based on original PCC designs, that was installed in the last group of renovated streetcars (Nos. 1070-80, 1006, 1008, 1009, 1011, and 1040). This will make the PCC fleet closely standardized, based on equipment of the Westinghouse design, and thus easier to maintain.
Once the new renovation contract is finalized several months in the future, the 16 PCCs will probably be shipped to the contractor three at a time. Meanwhile, in the near-term, needed two good trucks to keep other PCCs running. So No. 1056 will temporarily become a “donor car”, giving up its trucks, which it will get back when it goes out for renovation (it will be one of the first group to go). The car was being moved by shop workers from Cam Beach Yard to Metro East for that purpose.
Mystery solved.

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Learn How the F-line Started, At Our Museum

Thirty years ago this week, the first San Francisco Historic Trolley Festival kicked off, with then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein personally piloting historic Muni Car No. 1 from 17th Street and Market to East Bay Terminal. The festival was so successful, the mayor asked that it be repeated…and the F-line rapidly progressed from a dream to full-time reality.

We recount that seminal event in a new exhibit at our San Francisco Railway Museum. And now there’s more opportunity to see it, because we’ve instituted “Summer Hours”, opening on Mondays from 10-6, just like the other six days of the week. We’ll be open daily now through September (though we’ll be closed July 4). Grab an F-line car and get off at Steuart Street to take it all in. And don’t forget, Saturdays are the wonderful Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building.

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Still Room on Sunday’s Vintage Streetcar Excursion!

We still have seats available for our special J-line excursion on one of Muni’s original, century-old streetcars, Sunday, June 23, leaving from our San Francisco Railway Museum at 1:30 p.m. The weather should be great along Muni’s most scenic streetcar line! Learn more and sign up here!

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Mid-Market Comeback


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PCC No. 1060 enlivens the scene at Seventh and Market Streets. (c) Melissa Wuschnig.

In his Chronicle column today, former Mayor Willie Brown said of the mid-Market area, “After decades of nothing but talk, that area is really taking off.”
Decades is right. I grew up on Market Street. My family had delicatessens between Fifth and Sixth and between Fourth and Third in the 1950s (and one at Fifth and Jessie as well). As a kid, I watched the stretch from Fifth west gradually deteriorate, as solid working-class stores like Weinstein’s folded and the respectable second-run theaters morphed into porn houses.
One of the selling points I made over and over for the F-line was the prediction (hope, really) that the colorful vintage streetcars would provide the truly attractive kind of public transportation that could stimulate infill development in the not-so-great parts of the street, by connecting them to the more vibrant parts of Market in either direction.
A lot of factors have played a role in the rejuvenation of mid-Market of course, led by Mayor Ed Lee’s staunch advocacy for the district (continuing what his predecessor, Gavin Newsom, started). No question the tax incentives for tech businesses coming to the area have been important, along with several other programs.
We believe the F-line streetcars are part of that positive stimulus for mid-Market, too, and Mayor Brown agrees. He wrote today, “The best part, however, continues to be the historic trolley cars. At $2 a ride, they’re one of the best tourist attractions in the city.” Unlike the rest of Muni, the trolleys actually run on time. Not that it matters, since the people riding them don’t appear to be in any hurry. If you’re lucky, you get the open-air car, which makes the ride all the better.”
While we concur with Mayor Brown, we do feel strongly that the F-line is, and must continue to be, about San Franciscans as much or more than visitors. It carries thousands of residents to and from work, school, shopping, and recreation every day, especially on the stretch from Castro to the Financial District.
Within a year or two, a couple of thousand new housing units will be completed along that stretch of Market, and the F-line will be their “neighborhood trolley.” So we need to ensure that the service meets the needs of locals first.
That’s why Market Street Railway is deeply involved in advocacy for the Better Market Street Project, which aims to remake our main street from Octavia to the Ferry over the next five years. You’ll be hearing more about our proposals soon in this space and in our member newsletter, Inside Track. We hope you’ll join us and help keep the F-line at the heart of Market Street.

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