We depend on people like you to keep the past present in the future in San Francisco through your memberships, donations, and volunteer assistance in support of the city’s historic streetcars and cable cars.
Here are a few of the many things we do.
Transit Advocacy & Service Expansion
Keeping the F-Market & Wharves historic streetcar line running with vintage streetcars — rather than buses — takes constant advocacy.
Market Street Railway works closely with Muni staff at all levels, along with a wide range of leaders from city government, business, and neighborhood groups to push for both a high quality and quantity of F-line service to meet rider demand and to keep the vintage streetcars looking great. This includes effective advocacy for major service improvements on Market Street by making passenger boarding faster and easier, reducing the number of stops, and eliminating conflicts with private automobiles in the track lanes.
Our advocacy played a decisive role in winning the opening of a second historic streetcar line, the E-Embarcadero, from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Giants ballpark and the Caltrain Peninsula train depot in Mission Bay. Suspended since the Covid pandemic started in 2020, we are working to get it restored, and ultimately expanded.
We believe the city’s economy would be stronger with a longer E-line, extended westward from the center of Fisherman’s Wharf to serve Ghirardelli Square, Aquatic Park, and Fort Mason, and also southward along the T-line tracks through Mission Bay and Dogpatch to serve the Giants’ Mission Rock development, the Warriors’ Chase Center, the UCSF campus and hospitals, and forthcoming residential, office, and recreational developments at Pier 70 and Potrero Point.
We work to enhance cable car service in a number of ways as well. This includes spearheading the Powell Street historic livery program, which has restored 12 Powell Street cable cars to the authentic paint schemes worn by Powell cable cars in decades past, dating all the way back to the opening of the line in 1888. We also marshal community support for reducing waiting times for cable cars and reducing conflicts with automobiles that slow cable car service and place excessive strain on both the cable car crews and the cables and cars themselves.
San Francisco Railway Museum & Gift Shop
Our museum also serves as a visitor center for the historic streetcars. It’s a quick stop right on the F-line to learn much more about Muni’s “Museums in Motion,” find out how transit built the San Francisco of today and is shaping the city of tomorrow. Historic motion picture footage and photos galore, rotating special exhibits tied to current topics and historic anniversaries, plus unique San Francisco gifts you’ll be proud to own or give to friends. At the F-line Steuart Street stop, just across from the Ferry Building.
Vehicle Acquisition & Enhancement
Looking at a streetcar (trolley car or tram) on static, silent display somewhere is fine for some folks, but we think it’s so much better to let people experience the sounds and vibrations of these great streetcars and cable cars in real service, just like past generations did. We’ve helped Muni acquire and restore more than a dozen vintage streetcars, and even a cable car from a vanished line. Oh, and we haven’t forgotten vintage Muni buses, helping to restore several of those, dating back to 1938.
Our restoration mission has exceeded its goals, but we’re still keeping our eyes out for a few very special streetcars to acquire. And our volunteers spend considerable time and effort helping Muni keep today’s fleet of vintage streetcars clean while they’re on the line. Your support makes this possible.
Our members get a unique window into San Francisco’s transit scene through Market Street Railway’s full color quarterly member magazine. Inside Track keeps members up to date with inside information on the latest streetcar and cable car developments, while it presents fabulous rare photos, both current and historic, and chronicles the history of transit in San Francisco as well. Members tell us they look forward to its arrival.
Other Projects & Priorities
- An active archive program collects, catalogs, and preserves artifacts, photographs, and other memorabilia important to San Francisco’s transit history.
- We seek to preserve memories of the past by videotaping interviews with San Francisco pioneers and creating video segments for use in our museum and on our website.
- We maintain relationships with a variety of business and neighborhood groups to strengthen our advocacy program.