Visit Us at San Francisco History Days March 3-4

Visit the Old Mint on Fifth Street March 3-4 and join dozens of organizations, including Market Street Railway and SFMTA, celebrating and telling the stories of our City’s unique past.

Meet community historians, archivists, genealogists, archaeologists, researchers, educators, re-enactors, and other history enthusiasts at this free event.

Lots of details here. You can take the F-line to the Fifth Street stop, or BART or Muni Metro to Powell Street station. Great for kids too.

 

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“Trackless Trolleys”?

The Chronicle’s Peter Hartlaub, who does some productive digging around in the paper’s archives, has come up with a very good story on the conversion of many San Francisco streetcar lines to trolley coaches in the late 1940s. Above, one of several great photos from the story. Taken on the first day of electric bus service on Market Street, July 5, 1949, it shows a Twin Coach on the 5-McAllister followed by a mix of Marmon-Herringtons and Twins, outbound at Grant Avenue. Streetcars are still very much on the scene, including then-new double-end PCC 1009, still operating on the E-line today!

The conversion turned two dozen streetcar lines into bus routes. The majority of those conversions were to trolley coaches. Interestingly, Chronicle articles of the day referred to the new electric buses as “trackless trolleys”, a term mostly used in the East. Use of that term didn’t last long here; riders were soon referring to them as “trolley buses” while Muni officially called them “trolley coaches”.

A couple of clarifications on the article: Hartlaub seems to imply that the plans of PUC General Manager James Turner called for complete elimination of tracks on Market Street, when in fact only the outer tracks were taken up. He also noted that the only environmental benefit Muni seemed to tout for the new trolley buses was that the interiors wouldn’t smell bad. Not surprising that Muni would focus on this, though, since riders of converted streetcar lines had for a year been riding on interim gasoline motor coaches from White Motor Company, which had terrible ventilation that filled their interiors with gasoline fumes.

Overall, it’s a very good read. Worth your time.

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Muni Heritage Weekend 2018: September 8-9

The dates for the 2018 Muni Heritage Weekend have been finalized: Saturday-Sunday, September 8-9. The three vintage streetcars in this great shot by Wayne Worden from a past Heritage Weekend should be running again: 1896 Market Street Railway single-truck “dinky” 578, 1929 Melbourne 496, and 1934 Blackpool, England boat tram 228, along with Muni’s venerable Car 1 and others, all subject to operational readiness at the time, of course.

We also expect a couple of new operating vehicles, a bus and a streetcar, if current renovation schedules hold. We’ll announce those as we get closer.

Our Operator’s Circle members (those who contribute $250 or more to MSR annually) can expect an invitation to our special reception at our San Francisco Railway Museum on Friday evening, September 7, followed by a private streetcar charter to a fun destination. (You can still join Market Street Railway at that $250 or higher level to get that great benefit on September 7, or upgrade your current membership by adding on a donation to bring your total contribution to the $250 level). We’ll again have special events and a memorabilia sale at the museum, too.

Much more information coming, but those coming from a distance can now safely make their reservations for this weekend.

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Say ‘G’day’ to Melbourne on the E-line this weekend

UPDATE: Melbourne 496 is now scheduled regularly on the E-line on Saturdays and Sundays, until further notice.

An old friend will be carrying all comers on the E-line from Caltrain to Fisherman’s Wharf this weekend. Melbourne tram 496, built in 1928, is back in revenue service for the first time since last September’s Muni Heritage Weekend.

The Melbourne tram is scheduled to fill regular E-line run 201 both Saturday and Sunday, February 3-4. Its GPS is said to be operational so its exact location should show up on our E-line NextMuni map. It is scheduled to pass the Ferry Building on its first Wharf-bound trip at 8:54 a.m. both days.

Quite coincidentally, the Melbourne tram is back in revenue service exactly two weeks before its 90th birthday. (It was put into service on February 18, 1928, according to this authoritative Australian website.

Another coincidence: its reappearance comes 100 years to the day after streetcars first ran through the Twin Peaks Tunnel.

The E-line has had severe equipment shortages of late. Because the southern terminal is stub-ended and not a loop or wye, only double-ended equipment can serve it. Muni has seven double-end PCCs but one of these, Car 1015, has left San Francisco for its scheduled rebuilding at Brookville Equipment Company after 22 years of hard service. Two other double-end PCCs restored back in the 1990s with 1015, Cars 1007 and 1010, are out of service at the moment as is another double-ended PCC receiving a radio upgrade.

Market Street Railway has been urging Muni leadership since before the E-line even opened to be prepared to run operational double-end vintage streetcars, such as Melbourne 496 and Muni’s own Car 1, to ensure E-line service is kept at promised levels. We are pleased to see Car 496 on the streets again to help provide better E-line service.

Meanwhile, a “younger” Melbourne tram, the 916, built in 1946, is at the heavy overhaul shop at Green Division getting its rebuilt trucks refitted. We hope that car, which like 496 is highly reliable, will be available for E-line duty soon.

We will have a more complete story on E-line developments in the next edition of our member magazine, Inside Track. If you’re not a Market Street Railway, you can get it by joining here.

 

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Tunnel Vision

Note: This is a edited version of a story by MSR President Rick Laubscher from the most recent issue of our Member magazine, Inside Track. We generally don’t share exclusive member content on our blog, but are making an exception in this case for the tunnel’s centennial. You can join Market Street Railway and get this magazine with great stories four times a year.  (By the way, if you’re reading this on our main page, we recommend you click on the title… — Read More

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