The Chronicle‘s great columnist, Carl Nolte, spun a warm story today about October in the City — our most beautiful month. We’re illustrating it, fittingly, with this shot taken this afternoon of two orange Milan trams passing at Fifth and Market, with the venerable Chronicle tower in the background. Here’s some of what Carl feels is great about the City:
Up close, the city is still something special, even on battered Market Street. Back from an errand last week, I hopped on one of those old Milan streetcars, painted pumpkin orange, running the F line. As we rumbled up Market, I watched a small kid watching the operator run the old-fashioned controls, toot the horn and ring the bell. The kid reminded me of me, back when I was little and a streetcar ride was full of wonders.
I think our members and friends agree with Carl that a streetcar ride is still full of wonders! By the way, shortly after we snapped the photo of the two orange Milans, two green ones (or as our friend Peter Ehrlich calls them, “Mint Milanos”) passed at the same intersection, making four Milan trams on the line today, a high number for a weekend. Thanks to Muni’s shops for getting the Milan car count back up. As Carl noted, these cars have a real following.
John Haley, Director of Transit for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (de facto equivalent to general manager of Muni), left the agency October 26, according to this story by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez in the San Francisco Examiner.
Haley had been in the position for eight years, a long tenure by transit industry standards. His departure was announced by SFMTA as a retirement, though the article states that he was under pressure to leave following a series of allegations detailed in the Examiner story.
These allegations include a lawsuit from a female employee of groping and sexual harassment, which was reported by the Examiner last month. In the wake of that article, other SFMTA employees came forward to claim ill treatment by Haley and by several other male employees of SFMTA. Mayor London Breed responded quickly, appointing a veteran human resources director to investigate such accusations.
Today’s Examiner article reports:
More than 60 women from across every division of the 6,000 employee agency banded together to deliver anonymously written testimony to SFMTA leadership on October 22, urging them to quickly and thoroughly address harassment allegations.
“We represent women from various divisions and job classifications throughout the agency” reads the introduction letter to the women’s testimonies. “Many of us are scared to speak up. We all want you to engage us. We all want change.”
Such acts of harassment, if true, are inexcusable and should not be tolerated in any environment. In our own interactions with Haley over the past eight years, we did not witness acts of sexual harassment or gender or racial discrimination by him. However, we did become aware, through repeated tips from a broad array of Muni employees, that Haley held strongly negative views of the historic streetcars and cable cars, as well as Market Street Railway as an organization and its leadership specifically.
We were told by numerous inside sources that Haley repeatedly bad-mouthed our organization and the streetcars in front of staff and in internal meetings. We believe this led to a climate of fear and poor morale among many staff members involved in maintaining the historic fleet.
We attribute the progress that has been made during this period, including the inauguration of the E-Embarcadero streetcar line and progress in streetcar restoration and service improvements, to the dedication of numerous SFMTA employees who did not echo Haley’s negativity. We also believe the progress that has been made can be attributed to the strong support for the streetcars and cable cars by SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, with whom we have had a consistent and positive relationship, and to his Board of Directors, which have long supported Muni’s historic transit operation.
No interim replacement for Haley had been named at the time of this posting.
We will have more on this situation in the next issue of our member newsletter, Inside Track, due out in early December.
1914 Muni Car 162, which seemed on the cusp of returning to service after accident repairs that took more than four years, is starting a new round of repairs — this time on the trucks underneath the car.
Friday morning (October 19), the irreplaceable Muni original, was trucked from Muni Metro East in Dogpatch across town to the heavy overhaul shops at Green Division, next to Balboa Park BART. It’s shown above squeezing past a tree into the Green Division yard, and below in the shop. (Thanks to Barry Chown on our Facebook group for the lower shot.)
The car had returned home on April 23 following repairs from a 2014 accident. The repair work, which only included the body, were beautifully performed by CG, Inc. of Long Beach, but the car was improperly lifted by its trucks (wheel sets) for the return trip and the bottom connecting bars of the trucks were bent. (The October 19 cross-town moved used a roll-on, roll-off trailer, so it didn’t need to be lifted.
Though the bent members of the trucks were successfully straightened, the very detailed inspection of the trucks that accompanied the repair convinced Muni that it is necessary to completely rebuild the 104-year old trucks. That job is starting now, and will be performed in-house.
Market Street Railway is extremely disappointed with the way the streetcar was handled on its return trip from the vendor. Muni has committed to expedite the truck rebuilding and to do a thorough job. The project will be an early challenge for Muni’s new acting head of rail maintenance, Randy Catanach, who recently took over from Lee Summerlott, who retired.
We haven’t been given an estimated date for the completion of the work, but we will let you know. We look forward to getting this truly historic streetcar, which started its Muni career on long-gone rail lines like the B-Geary and F-Stockton, back on the street carrying a new generation of passengers on the E-Embarcadero and F-Market.