Thank a Muni Operator Today

Today is Transit Drivers’ Appreciation Day. It’s a hard job, and it has gotten harder over the past decade with the increase in traffic on our streets. Muni has painted more “red carpet” lanes for their vehicles’ (and taxis’) exclusive use, but many automobile drivers ignore them.

If you have a favorite SFMTA operator, one you think provides good service and makes your day a little easier, fill out a commendation form. It just takes a couple of minutes. Or when you exit a Muni vehicle today (or any day), just share a simple “thanks”.

As for the photo above, we borrowed it (with permission) from Muni’s Twitter Feed. That’s Mike Delia on an F-line PCC at the Castro and 17th Street terminal. Hat’s off to Mike and all other Muni operators who provide safe service to their 720,000 daily riders.

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E-line Outage Extended Through April

The E-line’s usual streetcars, double-end PCCs like Car 1009, are getting their exercise on the F-line these days.

The E-Embarcadero historic streetcar line will now not return to service until about April 28. The E-line has been temporarily shut down since late January as Muni constructs a long center platform on Third Street opposite Chase Center, the new Golden State Warriors arena opening this fall. 

The E-line streetcars don’t use that track, but Muni Operations said they needed to divert the E-line’s operators to drive some of the substitute T-line buses. Other Muni lines also “contributed” drivers to this effort by reducing service on those lines. The platform work should be finished and T-line rail service should resume by the end of March, but two weeks later, on April 14, Muni will be running buses on the outer half of the N-Judah line while they construct a new platform and perform paving work on Irving Street in the Inner Sunset. Here’s a story on the N-line project.

Once again, Muni Operations will be borrowing operators from other lines, including the 14-Mission, 30-Stockton, and 38-Geary. They will use the E-line’s operators for that two week period, too, as well as the operators on the 83X rush-hour Caltrain shuttle.

While we are not at all happy with this situation, we agreed with Muni’s recommendation to not try to restart E-line service for those first two weeks in April (might be less than that if the T-line platform project goes beyond schedule), only to yank it again on April 14 to put the operators on the N-line buses. We do recognize Muni’s operator shortage, but we have made our feelings clear to SFMTA leadership that repeated shutdowns of the E are not acceptable to our members and constituents in South Beach. We are redoubling our efforts to keep this from happening again.

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Variety of Visitors at our Museum

The San Francisco Railway Museum welcomes a wide variety of visitors, some curious about what we do, some well versed on the subject, and some with a specific purpose.

Among our recent visitors was a group of artists called Urban Sketchers: San Francisco Bay Area,who spent a couple of hours making illustrations of scenes in the museum, two of which you can see on their website. Lovely renderings of our old time transportation artifacts.

Visiting the museum on a regular basis in the rainy season is the local group Walking in San Francisco For Health and History. Their tours on rainy days consist of visits to 6 different free museums in the downtown area over a 6 hour period. The schedule for their walking tours of San Francisco historical sites and including its movie history, can be found here.

Members of the Elsewhere Philatelic Society frequently drop by to visit and pick up their highly prized stamp to add to their passports. For more information about this creative, artistic and mysterious group, check out their website.

School groups of all ages often visit. Students in ESL (English as a Second Language) classes find answers in the museum to the transit questions on their worksheets, and practice their new language by asking related questions of the museum staff. Grade school groups learn the difference between streetcars, cable cars and buses, and the basics of how electric traction works. Needless to say, the high point of their visit is playing operator and conductor in the recreated 1911 streetcar platform in the back of the museum. Bell-ringing is encouraged!

As a team building activity, a number of companies in the neighborhood will occasionally hold a scavenger hunt with our museum holding one of the clues. Small groups come in and comb the space looking for the answer to their quest, often enlisting staff for photos or historical help in solving their puzzle. 

Senior groups arrive at the museum eager to relive a part of their lives long gone – the San Francisco of their youth – venues and landmarks seen on film, in exhibits and in our display cases. We show them how the motorman and conductor operated the streetcars of the early 20thcentury in our streetcar platform, share with them the history and a demonstration of the first traffic signal in use in San Francisco in the 1920s, and show videos of the recreational destinations of yesterday and the streetcars that got you there.

For group visits, we ask that you call ahead so we can have adequate staff available, and are able to provide your group with a quality tour. The museum number is 415/974-1948.

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Hear Mayor Art Agnos’ Inside Stories of Embarcadero Transformation March 21

Nothing has improved San Francisco more in the past 30 years than the transformation of its waterfront boulevard, The Embarcadero. The city’s mayor at the time, Art Agnos, bucked some strong special interests to achieve the removal of the double-deck Embarcadero Freeway in front of the Ferry Building, replacing it with a surface roadway, pedestrian promenade, and — of course — streetcar tracks.

Earthquake-damaged Embarcadero Freeway, 1990

Mayor Agnos was aided in all this by his deputy mayor for transportation, the late Doug Wright (who was serving as Market Street Railway’s board chair at the time of his death in 2014). Art Agnos will share inside stories of how he and Doug got all those things done — including making sure the tracks were laid for the future E-line — at the next edition of Inside Track Live at our San Francisco Railway Museum, 77 Steuart Street (across from the Ferry Building) on Thursday, March 21, from 6 to 7 p.m.

Today’s Ferry Plaza

Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher, who was active in advocating for the waterfront improvements, will converse with Mayor Agnos and moderate questions from the audience.

The Embarcadero is part of Art Agnos’ legacy

This special event is free for Market Street Railway members. We request that nonmembers donate $5 at the door to support our mission of preserving historic transit in San Francisco. Attendance is limited to 50 people. Please join us!

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