Great Start to Summer Boat Service

The first day of summer boat tram service, May 28, went very well. Some highlights:

  • The Boat ran great, the banners Market Street Railway prepared looked great; thanks to Randy Catanach’s rail maintenance crew.
  • The operating crew (Angel Carvajal and Juiel Rice) were great with riders, very welcoming.
  • Market Street Railway had docents on board all day answering questions.
  • Loads were good all day; full both directions on final few trips.
  • Lots of waves and positive feedback from onlookers all along the way, plus endless photos.
  • Quite a few people came into our museum and asked us when the boat would next be there.

Until this boat tram is updated with a low-voltage power supply, there’s no Muni GPS on the tram, so it doesn’t show up on Muni’s NextBus map. (The other boat tram, which Market Street Railway acquired for Muni in 2013, has already been updated with low-voltage, but is out of service this summer getting new wheels).

So, as an experiment, Market Street Railway has purchased a battery-powered consumer GPS unit, which should arrive later this week. We’re going to see if we can get it to shop up on our own live streetcar map.  We’ll let you know if we can get it working.

Meanwhile, come out every Tuesday and Wednesday through Labor Day to ride the boat. The first run from the Ferry Building will head for the Wharf about 11 a.m. Service will wrap up at about 5.

We’ll have a full report about the boat launch, with more great photos, in our member newsletter, Inside Track, due out in June.

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Boat Tram About to Land

In this fantasy composite by Traci Cox, Boat Tram 228 approaches the Ferry Building in a different way, with Muni’s Robert Parks (lower right) overseeing training as usual.

You may have already caught a glimpse of it along the J-line, or Market Street, or The Embarcadero, this week. Here are a couple of shots from Jeremy Whiteman’s Behind the Lens Facebook Group.

Headed downtown on Church Street, in Noe Valley. Jeremy Whiteman Photo.


Looping back at Pier 39. Note the Jolly Roger, traditional to this car, on the trolley rope at rear. Jeremy Whiteman photo.

Blackpool, England Boat Tram 228 is celebrating its 85th birthday this year by taking San Franciscans and visitors for a cruise along our waterfront boulevard, The Embarcadero, from the Ferry Building to Pier 39 (gateway to Fisherman’s Wharf) starting the day after Memorial Day. The past few days, they’ve been training crews to operate it.

The boat will sail from about 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Tuesday and Wednesday, the two days of the week that Muni is able to provide operators right now. The last stop coming back will be our San Francisco Railway Museum (the Steuart Street stop on the F-line). The Chronicle’s SF Gate website gave it a nice writeup.

Our nonprofit (Market Street Railway) brought two of these boat trams to San Francisco and gave them to Muni (the other one is getting new wheels this summer). We appreciate Muni Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum launching the boat for the summer season. It will run at least through Labor Day and on Muni Heritage Weekend (September 7-8). We hope to keep it running a month longer, through Fleet Week. The best way to make that happen is to come down on a Tuesday or Wednesday for a ride (at regular Muni fares). Tuesdays are Ferry Building Farmers’ Market days, a bonus attraction. Wednesdays will feature the Off the Grid food trucks in the plaza opposite our museum (starting June 5). Great place to grab delicious food.

Because Tram 228 is still in its original 1934 state, it doesn’t have built-in GPS to show where it is on our live streetcar map. We have ordered a commercial GPS tracker in hopes that we can get it to interface with the map. If we can get it to work, it could be in place in time for the second week of operation. We’ll keep you updated on that.

Meantime, we really want your photos of the boat in action with crowds aboard. Post on Twitter, tagged #whereistheboat, and follow us at @sfmsr on Twitter and sfmsr on Instagram.

With your support, we can get the boats on track more often to delight more San Franciscans and visitors. (Psst: Making even a small donation to Market Street Railway would really help too.)

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Muni Heritage Weekend Sept. 7-8

L-R, Marmon-Herrington trolley coach 776 (1950), Muni streetcar number 1 (1912), and White Motor Company gasoline bus 042 (1938), all of which spent their entire careers at Muni, are expected to carry passengers during Muni Heritage Weekend, September 7-8.

The premier vintage transit event of the year, Muni Heritage Weekend, happens September 7-8 this year. Rides will be offered each day from 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. For the first time, this popular event, co-sponsored by SFMTA and Market Street Railway, will kick off San Francisco Transit Week, an event co-sponsored by SFMTA and the San Francisco Transit Riders organization (SFTR).

Details are still being finalized, but for Heritage Weekend at least, you can expect, at a minimum, several rarely-seen vintage streetcars to offer free rides from our San Francisco Railway Museum to Fisherman’s Wharf and back, including:  Muni 1 (1912); Market Street Railway “Dinky” 578 (1896); Melbourne 916 (1946, pending resolution of a persistent bearing problem); Brussels/”Zurich” 737 (1952); and Blackpool “boat tram” 228 (1934).

            Bus fans will again be able to ride beautifully restored 1956 Mack motor coach 2230, 1938 White motor coach 042, 1970 GM “New Look” 3287, 1975 AM General 4154, and vintage trolley coaches Marmon-Herrington 776 (1950) and Flyer 5300 (1975).  There may be a bus surprise or two. Stay tuned.

            Stay tuned, too, for what could be a big cable car surprise. For now, O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car 42 (1907) is again slated to be on the California line.

The last cable car pained authentically for the disappeared O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde line, fully restored to its appearance of a century ago, should be on the California line on Heritage Weekend

If you’re a member of Market Street Railway’s Operator’s Circle ($250 or more annual support), plan to come to our San Francisco Railway museum at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 6, for our annual special reception and charter. (You can join or upgrade your membership here, or by sending an email to membership@streetcar.org.)

During the weekend, we’ll have special memorabilia available for sale at our San Francisco Railway Museum and other fun activities.

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Sail the Boat Starting May 28

As a Summer gift to San Francisco, Muni will be operating the fabulous Blackpool Boat Tram in regular service on Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting May 28. The special service will last at least through Labor Day, perhaps longer, running from the Ferry Building to Pier 39, adjacent to Fisherman’s Wharf along The Embarcadero. (The Pier 39 terminal will allow more trips per day, avoiding the long queue of E- and F-line regular service streetcars taking their layover at Jones Street.)

UPDATE, MAY 20: The boat WILL operate May 28-29, even though the E-Embarcadero historic streetcar line will be shut down from May 25-June 2 due to construction. Come out and ride!

The first stop toward the Wharf will be in front of the Ferry Building. The last stop coming back will be the Steuart Street stop in front of our San Francisco Railway Museum. The boat should start service around 11 a.m. and run until at least 5 p.m. We’ll provide details on exact operating hours when we have them. Regular Muni fares will apply ($2.75 adult cash, various discounts explained here).

Blackpool, England built 12 of these magical open-topped streetcars in 1934, to run along the Irish Sea Promenade. They still operate three of them; Market Street Railway brought two to San Francisco 30 years apart as gifts to Muni. This summer’s boat will be Car 228, which came to San Francisco in 1984. Our second boat, Car 233, is having new wheels fitted this summer, so in case 228 needs a break, one of Muni’s two Melbourne trams (also acquired by Market Street Railway) — Car 496 (built 1928) or Car 916 (built 1946) will substitute. With side windows dropped, the Melbourne trams are close to a boat-like experience themselves.

The special service has been arranged by SFMTA’s Acting Director of Transit, Julie Kirschbaum, to whom, many thanks. Show your support for the boats by coming out and riding.

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