The wait was worth it. Thirty months of pandemic, service shutdowns, and struggles to get F-line and cable car service going again. After all that, it was time for a celebration. Thousands of San Franciscans and visitors agreed, coming out on June 4 to ride or watch vintage streetcars, unique cable cars, and Muni buses spanning 60 years of service.
Ride Muni’s very first streetcar, built in 1912. Ride an even older streetcar that looks like a cable car, built in 1896. Ride two unique cable cars, from lines that disappeared in 1942 and 1954. Ride Muni’s brand-newest cable car, an incredible piece of the carpenter’s art. Ride a 1928 tram from Melbourne, the 88-year old open-top “boat tram” from England, a 1950s “EuroPCC”. And, for the first time since the pandemic started, a popular tram from Milan will operate. All on Muni’s own tracks.
San Francisco has been a magnet for travelers for 170 years. The beauty of its setting on one of the world’s great natural harbors is unquestioned. Yet San Francisco’s front door once was ugly.
For 149 years, San Francisco’s cable cars have been exemplars of craft, sculptures in wood and metal reflecting the talents of carpenters, metal workers, painters, electricians, and others. They absorb the jolts and lurches inherent in their daily operation, carrying millions of passengers over decades of daily service before their joints finally loosen and rot and rust take a big enough toll to require rebuilding.
By Bruce L. Battles, Market Street Railway Member
March 18 is Transit Driver Appreciation Day. Operating transit vehicles is a challenging job, in any environment. The past two years, it has been more challenging than ever in San Francisco, given justified concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus along with all the other issues they encounter every day. In our member magazine, Inside Track, we gave a shout out in 2020 to three vintage streetcar operators, emblematic of the many who show love for San Francisco’s historic transit vehicles and offer their riders great service.
Visitors to San Francisco today frequently comment on the multi-colored fleet of streetcars on Market Street. But it’s not the first time that’s happened.
We have received this notice from Muni: “The SFMTA, in partnership with the Department of Public Works, will be substituting motorized buses for the full F Market & Wharves historic streetcar route for three weeks, starting Feb. 22 through March 12. During this time, F Line service will be modified to accommodate construction activities for the Upper Market Safety Project as well as other essential track repair and maintenance elsewhere on the rail corridor.”
Our nonprofit started up in 1977 to preserve a Muni trolley bus. Buses are a very important part of San Francisco transit history, too, and we now have a section of our website devoted to them, including an overview of bus history in the city, and profiles of the most historic buses in Muni’s vintage fleet (several of which we reacquired for Muni). Check it out!
Final installment of our six part series on Muni’s birth and first century.
Archive: All Posts