“Best Heritage Weekend Ever”

Sacramento-Clay Cable Car 19 (originally built in 1883) meets O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car 42 at California and Hyde Streets during Heritage Weekend. It’s the first time ever that cable cars from two disappeared lines operated together in service. Dave Longa photo.

We heard those words over and over the past two days. It was the best Muni Heritage Weekend ever. The biggest crowds (people queued up for an hour or more on Sunday to get a Boat Tram ride), the most kids (a new generation of public transit fans being created), the widest variety of vehicles (debut of Sacramento-Clay cable car 19 and Melbourne tram 916), BOTH boats out on Saturday, BOTH Melbourne trams out on Sunday, plus five vintage buses, the always popular 1896 “Dinky” streetcar, and even the Brussels/Zurich “EuroPCC” in regular service both days to Castro on the F-line. All that, plus big crowds at our San Francisco Railway Museum, center of all the action.

1929 Melbourne tram 496 meets younger sibling 916 (born in 1946) by the Ferry Building. It’s the first time Muni’s two Melbourne trams operated side-by-side in service. Adolfo Echeverry photo.

The single disappointment of the weekend was a compressor failure on Muni Car 1 that kept it out of action, but it should certainly be fixed for next year.

The wait for the boat tram was long on Sunday, but…

…once on board, smiles for miles!

We’re sharing a few photos here. We’ll have a full wrap-up in the next issue of our quarterly member newsletter, Inside Track.

EuroPCC 737 (1952) passes 1938 White Motor Company coach, Muni’s oldest surviving bus, on Steuart Street. Rick Laubscher photo.

The 1896 Dinky drew crowds all weekend, as it always does…people keep thinking it’s a cable car…until it rockets down The Embarcadero, bouncing along on its single truck! Rick Laubscher photo.

Thanks to everyone who made the weekend a success, led by MSR Board Chair Carmen Clark and Vice Chair Tony Sabella, President Rick Laubscher, and Museum Manager Alison Cant, plus many great volunteers, including our board members Ian Dailey, Chris Arvin, Kat Siegal, Katie Haverkamp, Paul Wells, Paul Lucas, Will Flynn, and Ron Fisher. And at SFMTA/Muni, Katy Guyon, who did a great job organizing the information stations on the plaza, and Jonathan Kibrick, who kept the vintage vehicles moving. Special thanks to MSR members Steve Souza and Jeremy Whiteman for providing pizza and water to the vehicle operators and plaza volunteers all weekend, and of course great thanks to all the operators and maintainers who got the vehicles ready and took them through their paces. The smiles of riders and onlookers lit up the scene everywhere the vehicles went.

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Heritage Weekend Halftime Report

Families and fans lined up to ride 1896 “Dinky” Streetcar 578 outside our museum, as they did for the two boat trams that operated on Saturday, but everyone got a ride.

Great first day for Muni Heritage Weekend. Most diverse group of vintage transit vehicles ever; biggest crowds ever; most visitors to our San Francisco Railway Museum ever.

We’ll post most of the photos after Sunday’s action, but we want to make sure you see a few shots, and more importantly, these links:

1938 White Motor Coach 042, Muni’s oldest surviving bus, a prime subject of Steve Rubenstein’s Chronicle story, linked below.

The Chronicle’s Steve Rubenstein looks at the first day’s action, with a focus on buses.

And the Chron’s venerable “Native Son”, columnist Carl Nolte, pens a paean to Sacramento-Clay Cable Car “Big 19” as it made its public debut on Saturday.

“Big 19”, originally built in 1883 and the oldest operable cable car in the world, waits its turn at the California and Market terminal with 1907 O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde line CABLE CAR 42 right behind.

If you’re reading this Sunday morning in San Francisco, drop what you’re doing and head down to 77 Steuart Street, across from the Ferry Building, where the action continues from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday.

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Great Kickoff to Heritage Weekend

Mayor London Breed (Center, in blue) leads the ribbon cutting that returned cable car “Big 19”, originally built in 1883, back to Muni’s active fleet after a hiatus of 77 years. She was joined by SFMTA Board Vice Chair Gwyneth Borden (second from right) and the team from Cable Car Division responsible for this miraculous resurrection.

Muni Heritage Weekend got off to a great start last night (Thursday), with a VIP reception at our San Francisco Railway Museum. Upwards of 70 invited business, neighborhood, and civic leaders heard Mayor London Breed extol San Francisco’s history and the role transit played in making the city what it is today. Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher paid tribute to transit pioneers through the decades, whom he described as “fighters for equality, for inclusion, for opportunity”, and lauded the team that brought Sacramento-Clay Cable Car 19 back to life. They include: Project Manager Arne Hansen, the shop superintendent; Electric Transit Mechanic Dave Kerrigan, who installed a complete braking system, Master Carpenter Antoni Cunha, who repaired and strengthened the running boards; Painters Danny Hicks and Henry Pegueros, who did a masterful job of painting, polishing the brass, and detailing the cable car.

Mayor Breed addressing the gathering at the museum. MSR Board Vice Chair Antone Sabella (just to her right) looks on.

That group, and the other guests, then processed from the museum two blocks to California and Market Streets, where “Big 19” was staged on the tail track of the California Street cable car line, ready to go. After a ribbon cutting, featuring Mayor Breed, SFMTA Vice Chair Gwyneth Borden, and the car’s restoration crew, Gripman Val Lupiz, whose personal enthusiasm for the project made a big difference in moving it forward, er, moved the car forward … up California Street, “halfway to the stars”, as the song lyric goes with the Mayor and a packed car of guests happily taking it in.

MSR Board Chair Carmen Clark stands in the grip man’s position aboard Big 19, with the restoration team in front of the car, along with MSR Board Member James Giraudo (far left), who contributed the accurate 46-star American flags for the car (commemorating the 1908 date it started working the Sacramento-Clay line), along with the two Cable Car Division superintendents who greenlighted the project: Brent Jones, now acting deputy director of transit for SFMTA, to the right of the shiny brass headlight, and Wes Valaris to the left of the headlight (in hat), current acting super at Cable Car.

Climbing Nob Hill with a crush load is just about the ultimate test for Big 19, and under Val’s expert hand, it went flawlessly. The Mayor had to disembark at Grace Cathedral for her next engagement…clearly reluctantly, asking to ride at least one more block…and the rest of the guests proceeded to Van Ness, where “Big 19” reversed smoothly.

Gripman Val Lupiz waits for a signal to change as Mayor Breed (over his shoulder) enjoys the ride. Former MSR Board Chair Bruce Agid looks toward the mayor from the far running board.

But then the Cable Car Gods said, “Not so fast”. One block into the return trip, another cable car hit a bumper bar on the California cable, causing the cable to automatically shut down. When this happens, the cable machinery crew carefully winds the entire cable all the way through its length, inspecting it as it goes through the winding machinery at the carbarn to ensure it wasn’t damaged. If it is, the line can be shut down for hours.

And so, guests on this memorable inaugural run of Big 19 got an unexpected experience: one of Muni’s brand new hybrid buses appeared to take them back to the museum, making them the first to make that round trip on transit vehicles built 136 apart.

One more shot of Val Lupiz, on his new favorite cable car. Those who are part of our Facebook group, (Market Street Railway) know Val as a devoted cable car historian whose dedication and enthusiasm has helped both Big 19 and O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde Car 42 spend time on the streets.

Later, the cable was found to be fine, and Big 19 returned to the Cable Car Barn without incident. It will be out and running on Heritage Weekend with a VERY special treat starting at 10 a.m. for those who show up at the Cable Car Barn at Washington and Mason Streets: on its pull-out trip, it will go down the Hyde Street Hill to Aquatic Park, then back up Hyde, around the Washington-Jackson loop, and then over to California Street to go into service. At Heritage Weekend Central Control (the plaza outside the museum), we’ll keep track of where Big 19 is, so visitors can catch one of its several trips from California and Market to Van Ness and back.

That’s just one aspect of what’s going to be a great Heritage Weekend. Don’t miss it.

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Ride, Join, and SHOP at Heritage Weekend

Muni Heritage Weekend, September 7 and 8, is the best two days of the year when it comes to riding a wide range of vintage transit vehicles — streetcars, cable cars, trolley buses, and motor buses — ranging in age from 44 to 136 years! You literally cannot do that anywhere else in the world, at any time.

And it’s also the best two days of the year to get your shopping done at our San Francisco Railway Museum, the center of all the Heritage Weekend action. That’s because Market Street Railway members AND all current SFMTA employees will receive a 20% discount on all of the merchandise in our museum store. That includes our 2020 calendar, our great selection of transit themed tee-shirts, hats, and other apparel, Muni logo gear, genuine cable car rail paperweights and plaques, books, a wide array of kids’ items, and more. Many of these items are not available online or in other stores.

Our museum store selection includes items specially for us by our board member Chris Arvin, a great designer recently featured here with his own great “merch”.

Get an early start on holiday shopping with many items you can’t find anywhere else. (The everyday discount for our members and for SFMTA employees is 10%. This special offer is for in-person purchases at the museum only, not in our online store. We’ll be offering our members who can’t come to Heritage Weekend a 20% discount period at our online store inn a few weeks.)

Not a current Market Street Railway member? We can fix that easily. For just $20, we’re offering a special six-month membership to introduce more people to our non-profit transit preservation organization. Sign up at our booth in the plaza across the tracks from the museum on Heritage Weekend and you’ll instantly be eligible for the 20% members discount in the museum. You’ll also receive the latest two issues of our quarterly member magazine, Inside Track, along with the next two in your six month membership.

But, as they say in infomercials, wait, there’s more. If you take the plunge on Heritage Weekend for a full year’s basic membership (at $45), we’ll add token of thanks, literally: a genuine Muni token, a little smaller than a dime, minted in the 1930s, and still valid for a single ride on a Muni bus or streetcar/LRV (a ride that now costs $3 in cash, by the way). We have a limited number of these, offered in person at Heritage Weekend only. And, if you choose our Conductor membership at $100 annually, you’ll get the token plus a 2020 calendar, a $14 value when you add in sales tax.

SFMTA employees don’t need to join Market Street Railway to receive the 20% discount on Heritage Weekend. The double discount (usually 10%) is our nonprofit’s way of saying thanks to the folks who keep San Francisco moving. But we hope that more SFMTA employees will join Market Street Railway for the other benefits of membership.

And because many SFMTA employees are at work during Heritage Weekend, we’re extending their 20% discount the following week, Transit Week, so it’s good for SFMTA employees through Friday, September 13.

But whether you take advantage of these special offers or not, come on down to Muni Heritage Weekend. It’s going to be the best one yet! If you absolutely can’t make it this year, you can still join Market Street Railway online, supporting our efforts that make events like Muni Heritage Weekend possible. All members, old and new, we’ll alert you in a few weeks to our 20% off online store sale, just for you.

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Sept. 7-8 Muni Heritage Weekend Details Here!

September 7 and 8 are shaping up to be the best Muni Heritage Weekend ever! This year’s seventh annual event should feature two vintage rail vehicle debuts, plus a full roster of returning favorite streetcars, cable cars, and buses. All the action is centered at our San Francisco Railway Museum, 77 Steuart Street across from the Ferry Building at the F-line Steuart Street stop. (The one exception: the special cable cars, which will board one block away at California and… — Read More

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Boat Tram Sails Again

Blackpool (England) Boat Tram 228 is scheduled to resume its special service on the waterfront Tuesday, August 13 at 11 a.m., following a time in “dry dock” for motor repairs. You can ride the boat Tuesdays and Wednesdays the rest of August and into September between our San Francisco Railway Museum (across from the Ferry Building) and Fisherman’s Wharf between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. While the Muni shops were fixing the motor problem, the shops also replaced the clouded… — Read More

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Muni Heritage Weekend Sept. 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… — Read More

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