America’s Cup Plan Includes E-line Service, Mentions Fort Mason Extension

The “People Plan” to bring spectators to the shoreline of San Francisco Bay for the 34th America’s Cup races includes historic streetcar service on the E-Embarcadero line, plus the possibility of implementing the F-line extension to Fort Mason in time for the races. The streetcar part of the plan seems at least symbolically important to the America’s Cup folks, since they used the cool photo montage above at the top of their webpage discussing the plan.
The plan, announced today by Mayor Edwin M. Lee, is still in “early draft form.” That means it’s at the “round up the usual ideas” phase. However, two of those ideas are projects Market Street Railway has been advocating for a long time.
The first is historic streetcar service on the E-line all the way along the waterfront from the Caltrain Depot to Fisherman’s Wharf. Thanks in large part to our advocacy, the connecting tracks and low-level boarding islands have been completed south of the Ferry Building to allow the vintage streetcars to share tracks with the N- and T-line trains coming out of the Market Street subway at Folsom.
Oddly, though, the plan (downloadable here at the bottom of the summary page) only calls for E-line service during actual race days, calling it an “excellent opportunity to test the conditions under which that service can provide the most benefit to the Embarcadero corridor.”
Just to recap: the E-line has BEEN tested several times in single-day service, most recently for Sunday Streets events, and has passed with flying colors every time. In fact, the E-line has been promised to residents and businesses along the route since at least 2000, when then-Mayor Willie Brown told the crowds on the opening day of the F-line Wharf extension, “You’ll get your E-line.”
Inauguration of regular E-line service has been delayed several times, most recently because of insufficient streetcars to handle the E while still providing adequate service on the F-line. But the 16 additional streetcars joining the fleet by next year will provide enough equipment to start up the E-line full-tme. So what’s with the idea of yet another “test” in 2013, even though Muni’s own Transit Enhancement Plan calls for full-time E-line service sooner than that?
The prospect of quick construction of the Fort Mason streetcar extension is mentioned as a possibility “to be evaluated” as a possible enhancement to America’s Cup transit service. We’re the first to say it would take an exceptional effort, by San Francisco standards, to have the extension operating by the America’s Cup final races. But the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the extension is currently open for public comments, a key milestone in the project. It’s worth noting that the City of Seattle went from City Council approval of the South Lake Union line (twice as long as the Fort Mason extension) to inaugurating service in that same short time span.
The Mayor is asking for comments on the proposed America’s Cup transportation plan by email. Drop him a line and give him your views on improving waterfront streetcar service for this great global sailing event.

Comments: 7

  1. Would the expanded E take Aquatic Park existing tracks or be extended via Jefferson? The Marina Safeway question is yet to be answered as well. Good luck!

  2. Just a random thought, and I know I’ll get flamed, but… Could the current LRV’s be used to supplement E line between wharf and Caltrain? I feel bad for the poor old railcars when they’re crush packed with passengers. At the very least, it would be a better experience than buses.

  3. The short answer is no, because Muni has ZERO spare LRVs. Any LRV assigned to the E-line would mean a missing run on one of the other lines, at least in most parts of the operating day. But don’t feel bad for the old railcars; most of them have been fully rebuilt and can take it. There are a few more delicate ones, but they’re only used in limited service.
    Beyond the question of LRV avalability, the “People Plan” draft clearly states that the Breda LRVs cannot operate north of the Ferry Building because of overhead wire incompatibility. Actually, that’s technically not true. LRVs with pantographs CAN run on that trackage, but I have been told that the overall current capacity of the line north of the Ferry Building can only take a few LRVs at once because they draw so much more current than the historic streetcars. (It IS true, though that the overhead wires on Market Street cannot accommodate LRVs, since the F-line uses one of the two trolley bus wires and neither the wires nor the crossings will accommodate pantographs.

  4. Go to our original blog post, linked in the one you commented on. There, you’ll learn the route of the extension (NOT along the old freight tracks, but rather via Jefferson and Leavenworth to a double track (both direction) on Beach Street, then across the edge of Aquatic Park to the Fort Mason Tunnel. You’ll also see the two terminal options, both of which are INSIDE Fort Mason. NO option has tracks going onto neighborhood streets, whether around the Marina Safeway or anywhere else. The line ends inside Fort Mason.

  5. Speaking of running LRVs to Ft. Mason, I just saw a two car LRV train pulling in on the J line at 18th St. Obviously out-of-service, the rear car had “Fort Mason” on the roller sign.

  6. Question: What is the plan to turn the E-line cars around at, or near, the Caltran Depot? Is it going to be a loop, or a wye, and where will it be located?

  7. Initially, Muni plans to operate the E-line with double-end streetcars only, using the current N-line terminal at Caltrain. Several possible loops at the end of that track (near 6th and Berry Streets) were sketched out by Muni years ago, but they have never addressed the issue of LRV storage during ball games if the E-line terminates at that location. MSR advocates completing the half-done loop at 19th and Illinois instead, at the south end of Mission Bay, and using it for the southern E-line terminal. The service will be needed as Mission Bay continues to develop, and the terminal location, adjacent to Pier 70, could add more momentum to the restoration of that fabulous historic district. And that loop could easily be completed in time for America’s Cup since the switches, crossings, and wire for the T-line are already in.

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