Improving Our Website

Some of you may have noticed problems with our website, particularly objects appearing where they shouldn’t and the like.
Our website is built on a platform that was okay years ago, but is now obsolete and not supported by its creator. All kinds of creaks and aches appear, as with lots of things that have gotten old. You occasionally get unexplained surprises, like this morning, when our automatic email notification service (for those of you who subscribe to our blog) inexplicably sent out several stories that are months old. That shouldn’t have happened. We don’t know why. We apologize for any inconvenience.
The good news is that we’re in the process of migrating our site to WordPress, the most robust platform around and very widely used, especially for sites with lots of new postings. The new site will have all the features of the current one, plus an improved store and other new features.
We hope to have it up by the end of July. Until then, thanks for your understanding and patience.

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F-line PCCs Move to Metro East on Friday

Muni’s 32 streamlined PCC streetcars will move their home base from Cameron Beach Yard to Muni Metro East (MME) at Illinois and Cesar Chavez Streets this Friday, June 20, and will operate out of MME starting Saturday. The ten Milan trams have been operating out of MME for almost two years.


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Milan trams stored together with LRVs at Muni Metro East shortly after their move there, August 2012. Peter Ehrlich photo.

The move is tied to major track replacement at Muni’s Curtis E. Green Light Rail Facility, across the street from Cameron Beach Yard at San Jose and Geneva Avenues, and for the tracks leading into Beach Yard as well. The work will be done in phases, and storage space at Beach Yard is needed for light rail vehicles while their home is being renovated. As of now, the one-of-a-kind historic streetcars, such as Muni No. 1, Melbourne No. 496, New Orleans No.952, and the Blackpool boat trams, will remain based at Cameron Beach Yard, where they will be protected by the canopy Market Street Railway advocated for many years, and which was completed three years ago.
Market Street Railway is in continuing discussions with Muni’s parent, SFMTA, about creating the best permanent environment to store and maintain the historic streetcars.
F-line streetcars will now use the T-line on Third and King Streets and The Embarcadero to reach the F-line tracks. They will not be picking up passengers on trips to and from MME.
We’ll have much more on this for our members in our next issue of our newsletter, Inside Track, out next month. And we’ll keep you updated here as well.

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Muni Operator Shortage Hits F-line

Muni is currently facing a systemwide operator shortage, according to this article in today’s San Francisco Examiner.
This situation is not new, but it appears to be getting worse. It affects all modes of Muni vehicles, including the historic streetcars. And based on anecdotal evidence we’ve received, it’s not just the quantity of people applying to be operators, it’s the quality as well. We were told by authoritative sources that recently a higher percentage of prospective F-line operators have been washing out of training than previously.


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Which way do I go?

One issue in particular surprised us: in one class, a high percentage of trainees were unable to tell which way a switch was set. In other words, from the operator’s position, looking directly at the switch points right in front of them, they couldn’t tell which direction their streetcar would go as they proceeded through the switch. This is really a question of basic visual perception and of course would make one wonder what *else* they can’t discern on the street.
We’re glad Muni Training is maintaining its standards for all operators. We hope they’re able to recruit enough candidates to fill the vacancies throughout the system, but as this Examiner article and others have recently pointed out, it’s getting harder and harder to find workers for what have traditionally been middle-class jobs in San Francisco as the city gets ore expensive.
In the meantime, the shortage is making an increasing impact on the F-line. We’re told that the extra streetcars added to the schedule recently to cope with the increasing loads are being cancelled, since they were rarely filled due to lack of qualified operators. We’re told that buses will be added to the F-line starting June 23 to try to help out, though streetcar-seeking riders have in the past let the buses go by, so they usually end up carrying few people.
This is an unfortunate development as we hit the peak of visitor season.

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Sickout Ends; F-line, Cable Cars Back

Muni announced this morning that it has 90 percent of its scheduled service on the street and declared the “sickout” by operators to be over.

The cable cars are running again today after a three day absence. The F-line is running its full route from Castro to the Wharf after being limited to the waterfront portion of the route due to lack of operators.

Here’s the Chronicle’s blog coverage of the last day’s developments. You can see a live map of current F-line service.

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Sickout Day 3: No F-line on Market, No Cable Cars

As the “sickout” by Muni operators hits its third day, participation is dropping and more Muni buses and light rail vehicles are getting out onto the streets. However, Muni is still not attempting to operate any of the cable car lines and, as of 8:45 a.m. at least, F-line service is restricted to the waterfront, operating between the Wharf and the Ferry Building, with riders asked to use the Muni Metro subway along Market Street. It appears from our live… — Read More

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Muni “Sickout” Continues, Crippling Service

Despite widespread rider outrage and a warning from management, a large number of Muni operators called in sick again today in protest against a contract offer they rejected in a vote last Friday. Under city law, the contract matter now enters binding arbitration, but the unhappy operators aren’t waiting for that to show their displeasure. Muni management last night sent a memo to operators telling them they would not be paid for their alleged “sick days” without a valid doctor’s… — Read More

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Don’t Try to Ride the F-line or cable cars June 2

A quick post to say Muni operators are stating a “sickout” in protest of their proposed contract today (Monday, June 2). As of 8:45 a.m., there are exactly TWO streetcars out on the F-line, plus two buses, at an hour when there are usually 20 vehicles on the line. Check our live F-line map for up to the minute information. It’s no better on other Muni lines; in fact, reports are that Muni management is not even trying to run… — Read More

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