Muni Bus Centennial Celebrated at Heritage Weekend

Muni Superintendent Fred Boeken poses with Muni’s first five motor coaches (White Motor Co.) outside Geary Division, 1918. Photo from SFMTA Archives.

Muni operated its first bus on September 1, 1917. Their ace archivist and photographer, Jeremy Menzies, put together a great post with lots of photos that’s definitely worth a look.

We got a bit of a head start on the Muni bus centennial with an exhibit we opened in March at our San Francisco Railway Museum, telling the story of how buses came to replace streetcars as the city’s dominant transit vehicle. It’s still up, and it’s one more reason to come down to the museum for Muni Heritage Weekend, September 9-10 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

But don’t just come down to look at the display. Come down to ride and view actual vintage buses, because they’re taking center stage this year in honor of their centennial at Muni. Both trolley coaches and motor coaches will be offering the public rides that Saturday and Sunday.

Muni’s oldest surviving bus, built in 1938 by White Motor Company and numbered 042, restored to its original orange and black paint scheme, will run from the museum to Levi’s Plaza and back, as will 1969 GMC “Fishbowl” 3287, painted in the new livery of that day, which was modeled on the maroon worn by the California Street Cable Cars.

Newer buses running along with them on the Levi’s Plaza route will be 1975 AM General 4154 and 1990 Orion 9010.

But perhaps the most attention will go to Muni’s newest restored motor coach, 1956 Mack 2230. It will be on display in the plaza next to the museum. We won’t spoil the surprise with a photo of the restoration here (besides which, the Woods Division shops are still working on it) but here’s what it looked like during its first life. The Mack will sit side by side with a brand new Muni hybrid-electric motor coach, allowing visitors to compare 60 years of bus technology.

Two vintage trolley coaches will carry riders from the Museum to Washington Square in North Beach, including 67-year old Marmon-Herrington 776, which will be joined by 1975 Flyer 5300.

While the buses take a bow, there’s still a full slate of rail action. The J-Church line is celebrating its own centennial, so Muni’s very first streetcar, 1912 Car 1, will run from the Museum out Market and down the J-line to 30th Street on several trips each day, joined by a PCC streetcar of the type that ran the J for 30 years.

Additionally, the oldest surviving San Francisco streetcar, 578, built for the original Market Street Railway in 1896, will carry passengers from the museum to the Wharf and back, joined by one of the popular 1934 open-top “boat trams” from Blackpool, England. And 1929 Melbourne, Australia tram 496 will operate on the E-Embarcadero line.


Finally, the last surviving O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car to wear that line’s livery, Car 42 in its original 1906 livery, will be operating on the California Street cable car line, just two blocks from the museum, both days.

We’ll have a special sale of hard-to-find rail books and memorabilia both days, plus book signings on transit issues, including BART (by Mike Healy), the F-line (Peter Ehrlich), the Market Street Railway of 1893 (Emilio Echeverria) and the overall heritage operation (Rick Laubscher). We’ll post the schedule for these a few days before the weekend.

This is a Heritage Weekend you don’t want to miss!

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Our Spies are Everywhere!

 

Even Truckee, where John Griffin snapped these two shots of the latest PCC to be rehabilitated by Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania. The photos were forwarded to us by Market Street Railway member James Giraudo.

Car 1055 should be at Muni Metro Center by the time you read this. It is the sixth of 16 PCC cars covered by the current rehabilitation contract with Brookville. The contract covers the original F-line streetcar fleet from 1995, including 13 single end streetcars that Muni procured used from Philadelphia’s SEPTA. This car, numbered 2122 in Philadelphia, looks sparkling new in the same green and cream paint scheme, with red trim, that it was delivered to Philadelphia wearing in 1948.

Meanwhile, the last PCC to arrive, No. 1062, now painted to honor Pittsburgh Railways Co., is moving through its 1000-mile “burn-in” period, where components are tested before the car is accepted for service by Muni. The shops recently added the PRCo logo just to the rear of the center door, provided to them by us, with thanks to our friends at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, which gave us detailed advice on the Pittsburgh livery we adopted.

The next PCC due back from Brookville is Baltimore 1063, now painted in its original teal (or is it cyan — heck, blue-green) livery, quite a change from the later yellow livery it wore in San Francisco when it was first restored in 1995. That yellow was actually quite a bit more, er, YELLOW than the orangey hue actually adopted by Baltimore. We hope the new colors are more accurate, but a head’s up — that color from back in the days of lead-based paints, is very difficult to get just right, even with the great help we got from the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. We don’t have an anticipated arrival date for the 1063, but as we say, our spies are everywhere, and we’ll post a photo when we get one.

 

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Great LA Times Story: Attractions Along the F-line

The Los Angeles Times ran a great Sunday travel story on the F-line.  That’s a photo from it, above.  Here’s the link.  Enjoy!

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No Cable Cars, F-line Streetcars Saturday, Aug. 26

UPDATE, Saturday, August 26, 9:30 a.m. — Even though the “white nationalist” gathering at Crissy Field was cancelled and the city subsequently barred them from moving it to Alamo Square, buses are still running on the F, instead of streetcars. Streetcars are running on the E-line this morning.

Because of the planned protests and counter-protests around San Francisco this coming Saturday, August 26, Muni has decided to replace all three cable car lines and the F-Market & Wharves streetcar line with buses all day.

As of this writing, the E-Embarcadero is still slated to operate with streetcars between Caltrain and Fisherman’s Wharf along the waterfront, but it is subject to rerouting if threatened with disruption.

A growing number of counter-protests around the city have been scheduled in response to the National Park Service issuing a permit to a white supremacy group to hold a rally at Crissy Field in the Presidio. One counter-protest will start in the Castro and march down Market Street to Civic Center. It is presumed F-line bus service will be rerouted during the march.

In recent years, top Muni management has been very protective of the cable cars in particular, pulling them out of service during heavy storms and demonstrations that might lead to damage against the antique vehicles.

Here’s more on Muni’s decision. 

The Saturday changes will NOT affect our “Bay to Breakers” charter of Muni’s very first streetcar from our San Francisco Railway Museum to the Zoo on Sunday, August 27.  There is still room on this great excursion. Sign up here!

 

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Trolley Excursion, August 27, 2017

Come ride Muni’s very first streetcar, car 1 built in 1912, on this nearly 4-hour excursion on the F, J, K, L, and M lines ranging all over San Francisco. The excursion is on Sunday, August 27, 1:30-5:30pm. Destinations include: Market Street, Civic Center, the new Mint, the Castro, Dolores Park, Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, Glen Park, West Portal (entrance to the Twin Peaks Tunnel opened in 1918, one of the world’s longest streetcar tunnels at 2.27 miles), and the… — Read More

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2018 Calendar Now On Sale

It may be our best calendar yet. Thirteen powerful images of Muni’s historic cable cars and streetcars in action on the streets of San Francisco, taken by some great photographers. On top of that, there’s a special page telling the story of the Twin Peaks Tunnel as we celebrate its centennial year. And 12 smaller archival photos, one on each month’s date page, chronicling the building and operation of what was for decades the longest streetcar tunnel in America. Our… — Read More

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Happy Centennial, J-Church

  On August 11, 1917, Mayor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph presided over the opening of Muni’s J-Church line. This line brought Muni service the Noe Valley and Dolores Heights areas, in competition with United Railroads’ privately owned streetcar lines on Guerrero Street and on 24th Street. Over the past century, most types of Muni cars ran the J-line regularly, especially the B-types (including preserved Cars 130 and 162. PCCs began exclusively serving the J-line in 1958, followed by Boeing LRVs… — Read More

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Magic Carpet Ride

San Francisco’s first streamlined streetcars arrived in 1939. The outsides looked like the modern “PCC” streetcars popping up in many North American cities at the time, but San Francisco’s were different inside, because the City Charter of the day forbade the payment of patent royalties for some reason, and many components of the PCC were patented. So Muni ordered five cars that looked like this, numbered 1001-1005, with a mix of trucks, motors, and other components. All, though, had a… — Read More

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