Happy 87th Birthday, N-Judah!

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The N-Judah streetcar line turns 87 on October 21. SFMTA’s great blog has already posted some great photos of its 1928 opening, including one (the top one on their blog page) we don’t remember seeing before, so we’re going to share a couple of more recent shots instead. These were taken during a dead-of-the-night test run in 2010, after the LRVs had gone to bed for the night.

The purpose was to check clearances along the surface portion of the N-line to see which historic streetcars would be able to clear. Of course, the N-line was served by its original type of “Iron Monster” streetcars (like Muni No. 130) and then, for a third of a century, by PCCs like the ones that run on the F-line now. But years ago, when Muni installed an accessibility platform downtown-bound right where the tracks turn from Judah onto Ninth Avenue, they didn’t leave enough room for at least a few of the historic cars to clear the curve without scraping the ramp. In response, the Muni leadership of the day simply banned all historic cars from the N-line.

This meant that special event service for neighborhood celebrations or excursions and charters could no longer go out the N to Ocean Beach, as they had regularly since the days of the Trolley Festivals in the 1980s. (Excursions regularly go out the J, K, L, M, and the inner portion of the T, and are very popular. A few Saturdays ago, Muni ran a special vintage service on Ocean Avenue for the merchants there.)

10th&JudahAnyway, Muni already knew that the longest PCCs, the double-ended “torpedoes”, couldn’t clear the ramp at 9th and Judah, and it knew that narrower cars, like the boat trams and the 1050 class of PCCs, did clear.  But what about the 12 full width single-end PCCs, the 1070 class, plus historic car No. 1040, the last PCC built in North America? At 9 feet even, those cars are eight inches wider than the 1050 class, which came second-hand from Philadelphia.

As it turned out, the 2010 test showed they do clear the ramp. Muni hasn’t yet lifted the blanket ban on historic streetcars on the N-line, but we hope they will, and are advocating to allow charters, excursions, and special service for the neighborhood out there.  Maybe after the Sunset Tunnel rerailing project is completed…in time for the N-line’s 88th birthday next year!

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Sign Up Now for Two October Excursions

496 Emb and Chee

It’s great to have your own private streetcar.  It’s even better when there’s entertainment or the opportunity to learn on the trip.  We offer all these things in two excursions open to the public in October. Click here to get the complete scoop and sign up.

Market Street Railway is hosting another of its popular “Night Train” excursions. Come ride Muni’s Australian import, tram No. 496, along the historic F-line from the Castro to Fisherman’s Wharf and back. While riding, you’ll be able to enjoy beer and wine that will be available (your first is free) as well as the sounds of a live band. The excursion is on Friday, October 16, 7-9pm and boards at the F-line terminal at 17th and Castro Streets.

228-1-2-14-2The next day, Saturday, October 17, 1:30-3:30pm, we have a different kind of excursion,  on-board fabulous open-top Blackpool “Boat Tram” No. 228 (an enclosed car will substitute if it rains). Join tour guides Harlan Hirschfeld from City Guides and Paul Lucas from Market Street Railway for their informative ride along the F-line where you will learn interesting historical facts about famous Fisherman’s Wharf, traditional North Beach, the scenic Embarcadero, colorful Ferry Plaza, the busy financial district, world famous Powell & Market, classic Civic Center, imposing Mint Hill and the lively Castro.

Market Street Railway Members get 25% off on one or two tickets for these tours. You can sign up for membership here and get the discount immediately.

Again, here’s the link for the excursions. Come join the fun!

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