“The Streetcar Named Common Sense”

That’s how Joel P. Engardio, columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, described Market Street Railway’s proposal to extend the E-Embarcadero line, south through Mission Bay and Dogpatch, sharing existing tracks of the T-Third light rail line.
In his April 27 column, Engardio cited strong support for the extended line in the neighborhoods it would serve. “We are exploding with development and we need more transit options,” Engardio quoted Janet Carpinelli, president of the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association, as saying. “Putting in the E-line is a no-brainer, especially when the T-line is so inefficient.”

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A Milan tram passes a T-line light rail vehicle on Third Street at 23rd Street in Dogpatch.Since October 2012, Muni’s Milan trams have been housed at Muni Metro East a few blocks away, with no incidences of them interfering with T-line operations when they enter and leave service via Third Street through Mission Bay and Dogpatch. This part of Third Street is slated for major residential and commercial development. Photo Copyright Peter Ehrlich.

The column also supported our belief that the relocation of the proposed Warriors Arena site to Third and 16th Streets makes E-line service through Mission Bay and Dogpatch even more important.
Engardio also laid out the case for extending the E-line at its other end, from Fisherman’s Wharf to serve Aquatic Park, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Ghirardelli Square, and Fort Mason.
Again, here’s the link to Engardio’s column.

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Streetcar History Talk at California Historical Society April 30

Here’s an announcement from the California Historical Society about a talk Wednesday, April 30, at 6 pm at their headquarters, 678 Mission Street, between Second and Third. Come by and chat with Rick!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 6:00pm

Ten Lions Talks – How Streetcars and Cable Cars Shaped San Francisco’s History

San Francisco wouldn’t be the same without its colorful streetcars and cable cars. These vintage forms of public transit are not only practical ways to explore the city, they’re “joy rides” that jangle through a mix of historic buildings and vibrant new development, filling your ears with the sound of cables clicking as steel wheels rumble under your feet. At the same time, they’re a fleet of unique traveling museums. Rick Laubscher, author and president of Market Street Railway, will tell a few of the remarkable stories of San Francisco’s cable cars and streetcars detailed in his new book, On Track. Part travel and field guide, part civic and engineering history, this book has everything—from illustrations and specs to a trainspotter’s checklist.
Free for CHS and Heyday members
$5 general admission

California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco
In partnership with Heyday

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Warriors Arena in Mission Bay Boosts Importance of Extending the E-Line

The Warriors now say their future lies on the border of Mission Bay and Dogpatch, instead of a mile farther north on Piers 30-32. The 125-foot tall, 18,000-seat arena the basketball team proposed to build over the Bay along the southern Embarcadero is now slated for a site the Warriors just bought on the east side of Third Street, between South and 16th Streets.
Unlike the Pier 30-32 site, this site fits within current zoning and would need only a fraction of the approvals and reviews of the pier site. Prominent opponents of the pier site, including former Mayor Art Agnos and former Supervisor Aaron Peskin, are cheering the Warriors’ choice of the Mission Bay site, so while no proposed development ever encounters totally smooth sailing in San Francisco, this one looks to have a strong chance of actually getting built.

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A vintage PCC streetcar, in special service, pauses at the station on Third Street that would serve the new Warriors arena, as a T-line light rail vehicle heads in the other direction. Market Street Railway advocates permanent E-line vintage streetcar service through Mission Bay and Dogpatch by the time the Warriors arena opens, slated for 2018. Copyrighted photo by Kevin Sheridan.

That makes the extension of the E-Embarcadero historic streetcar line even more important. Muni’s parent, SFMTA, now says they’ll begin preliminary weekend service on the E-line next year, but only between the Caltrain Depot (Fourth and King Streets) and Fisherman’s Wharf. As our members and readers of this blog know well, Market Street Railway is joined by a growing number of neighborhood and business groups in advocating the extension of the E-line, west from the Wharf to Fort Mason on new track, and south from Caltrain along the existing T-line tracks on Third Street, terminating at Muni Metro East at Cesar Chavez and Illinois Streets.
This southern extension would connect the rapidly multiplying residential developments in Mission Bay and Dogpatch, the fast-growing UCSF Mission Bay campus, the Giants’ mixed-use development just south of China Basin and the large proposed developments at Pier 70 with all the waterfront attractions to the north, including the Ferry Building, the Exploratorium, and the Wharf area.
The E-line extension was already justified, in our view, by the existing and in-process developments alone. Add a new arena that will host in excess of 200 events a year, and an extended E-line becomes a necessity to avoid gridlock in the neighborhood.
Remember that the T-Third light rail line, which currently turns east at Fourth and King to follow the waterfront before dipping into the Market Street Subway, will be rerouted into the Central Subway when it’s finished in 2019. That’s great for those moving between the arena and Moscone Center, Powell Street BART, Union Square, and Chinatown, but it also means no more direct rail service from Mission Bay and Dogpatch to the southern Embarcadero. An extended E-line would provide that service and continue to popular destinations to the north, up to and including Fisherman’s Wharf. The E-line makes it easy to combine a day or meal at the Wharf with an evening event at the arena.
You can read about, and download our comprehensive vision for the E-line here. Note that since we published our vision last year, we’ve joined Dogpatch neighbors and businesses in advocating that the E-line extend farther south than shown in the document, all the way through Dogpatch.
We’ll continue to work with neighborhood and business groups along the E-line to make our vision a reality. It’s clearly needed more now than ever.

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Museum Closed through Wednesday, April 23

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The first day’s progress refinishing our museum floor, on the window side of our embedded "tracks." Brian Leadingham photo. Click to enlarge.

Since our San Francisco Railway Museum opened in 2006, we’ve welcomed tens of thousands of visitors who learned about how transit made San Francisco the city it is today, and enjoyed the many unique gifts we offer there.
All those feet on our floor have brought us to the point where we’re resurfacing our unique flooring with its embedded streetcar rails, which lead back to our completely accurate replica of a 1911 San Francisco streetcar cab.
So the museum will be closed through Wednesday, April 23, while we carry out the job. Come visit us again beginning April 24!

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Telling a Great Story of 108 Years Ago

On or about April 14, 1906, 108 years ago this week, pioneering professional filmmakers the Miles Brothers bolted a hand-cranked camera onto the front of a cable car and rode down Market Street from Eighth Street to the Ferry Building. The film they shot has gained new interest in the past few years, since film historian David Kiehn demonstrated that it was made just a few days before the great earthquake and fire destroyed almost everything you see. (Previously, the… — Read More

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Special History Sale and Book Signing Today

Today (Saturday, April 12) is a special day at our San Francisco Railway Museum. From 11 a.m. through mid-afternoon, we’ll be holding a sidewalk sale of transit and railroad books, photos, memorabilia, and ephemera right outside the museum just across from the Ferry Building (F-line Steuart Street stop). And from Noon to 3 p.m., Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher will be signing copies of his new book, ON TRACK: A Field Guide to San Francisco’s Historic Streetcars and Cable… — Read More

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New Streetcar Book Signing at Museum April 12

It’s a hot seller! Talking about ON TRACK: A Field Guide to San Francisco’s Historic Streetcars and Cable Cars, the new comprehensive view of the city’s vintage rail vehicles and history, written by Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher. On Saturday, April 12, from 12 Noon to 3 p.m., you can meet Rick and get an inscribed copy of ON TRACK at our San Francisco Railway Museum, 77 Steuart Street, across from the Ferry Building (right at the F-line Steuart… — Read More

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