Best Muni Heritage Weekend Ever!

It had more vintage vehicles, more riders, and more fun than ever. We’re talking about the sixth annual Muni Heritage Weekend September 9-10, 2017.

It also had some of the best photos we’ve seen over the years. The great one above, showing Martin (3) and Catherine (2) Andreev looking out the back window of 1950 trolley coach 776, is from Amy Osborne, part of a great photo essay she put together on sfgate.com.

Great news pieces from Sal Casteneda on KTVU-Fox 2, KGO 7, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez in the Examiner and Ida Mojadad in SF Weekly brought out lots of curious first-time visitors, especially families with young kids. We were ready for them, with a kids’ activity area, led by our board member Katie Haverkamp. (That’s Katie in the photo below, taken by fellow Board Member Paul Wells, instructing a guest how to “pin the part on the streetcar.”

This being the centennial year for Muni buses, the SFMTA folks outdid themselves to operate seven vintage coaches, built between 1938 and 1990. Additionally, the crackerjack maintenance team at Woods Motor Coach Division gave us a peek at the past-as-future by displaying 1956 Mack diesel coach 2230, gorgeously restored and operable but awaiting re-installation of its interior. It should be carrying passengers next year. (Our non-profit has helped SFMTA with the Mack, buying a set of new tires and other needs.)

Muni posed the Mack next to one of its newest hybrid-electric coaches, which carried a great display on the history of buses at Muni.

On the streetcar side, 1896 “dinky” 578 and 1934 Blackpool, England “boat” 228 packed them in all weekend shuttling between our museum and the Wharf, and vintage Muni Cars 1 and 130, along with PCCs 1051 and 1060, took turns recreating the original J-Church line out Market and down through Noe Valley, helping celebrate its centennial. Both days, 1929 Melbourne W2 tram 496 ran the E-line in regular service.

On the cable car side, venerable O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde line 42 brought its gorgeous self to the California line again, gripped ever so lovingly by Val Lupiz! (This photo, by member Todd Glickman, who came out from Boston for the event, shows the 42 next to 1990 Orion coach 9010, signed for a never-launched California-Hyde cable car line!)

There was much more, too. Our members will receive a complete report in our quarterly newsletter, Inside Track, due out in early October. You’ll see coverage of our special Operator’s Circle exclusive tour of Muni’s new LRVs, which we coupled with a twilight boat tram ride. If you’re not a member, join now!

Thanks to all the great team at SFMTA, led by Ed Reiskin and John Haley, with Communications led by Candace Sue and Janis Yuen, all the operators and maintainers and inspectors who made the weekend so great. And on the Market Street Railway side, special thanks to Alison Cant, our museum manager, and Katie Haverkamp, our celebration committee chair, along with all our wonderful volunteers.

Next year, we hope to combine Muni Heritage Weekend with Transit Week (upcoming at the end of September). We’ll let you know dates as soon as they’re set. See you then!

3 Comments on Best Muni Heritage Weekend Ever!
Share

Muni Bus Centennial Celebrated at Heritage Weekend

Muni Superintendent Fred Boeken poses with Muni’s first five motor coaches (White Motor Co.) outside Geary Division, 1918. Photo from SFMTA Archives.

Muni operated its first bus on September 1, 1917. Their ace archivist and photographer, Jeremy Menzies, put together a great post with lots of photos that’s definitely worth a look.

We got a bit of a head start on the Muni bus centennial with an exhibit we opened in March at our San Francisco Railway Museum, telling the story of how buses came to replace streetcars as the city’s dominant transit vehicle. It’s still up, and it’s one more reason to come down to the museum for Muni Heritage Weekend, September 9-10 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

But don’t just come down to look at the display. Come down to ride and view actual vintage buses, because they’re taking center stage this year in honor of their centennial at Muni. Both trolley coaches and motor coaches will be offering the public rides that Saturday and Sunday.

Muni’s oldest surviving bus, built in 1938 by White Motor Company and numbered 042, restored to its original orange and black paint scheme, will run from the museum to Levi’s Plaza and back, as will 1969 GMC “Fishbowl” 3287, painted in the new livery of that day, which was modeled on the maroon worn by the California Street Cable Cars.

Newer buses running along with them on the Levi’s Plaza route will be 1975 AM General 4154 and 1990 Orion 9010.

But perhaps the most attention will go to Muni’s newest restored motor coach, 1956 Mack 2230. It will be on display in the plaza next to the museum. We won’t spoil the surprise with a photo of the restoration here (besides which, the Woods Division shops are still working on it) but here’s what it looked like during its first life. The Mack will sit side by side with a brand new Muni hybrid-electric motor coach, allowing visitors to compare 60 years of bus technology.

Two vintage trolley coaches will carry riders from the Museum to Washington Square in North Beach, including 67-year old Marmon-Herrington 776, which will be joined by 1975 Flyer 5300.

While the buses take a bow, there’s still a full slate of rail action. The J-Church line is celebrating its own centennial, so Muni’s very first streetcar, 1912 Car 1, will run from the Museum out Market and down the J-line to 30th Street on several trips each day, joined by a PCC streetcar of the type that ran the J for 30 years.

Additionally, the oldest surviving San Francisco streetcar, 578, built for the original Market Street Railway in 1896, will carry passengers from the museum to the Wharf and back, joined by one of the popular 1934 open-top “boat trams” from Blackpool, England. And 1929 Melbourne, Australia tram 496 will operate on the E-Embarcadero line.


Finally, the last surviving O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car to wear that line’s livery, Car 42 in its original 1906 livery, will be operating on the California Street cable car line, just two blocks from the museum, both days.

We’ll have a special sale of hard-to-find rail books and memorabilia both days, plus book signings on transit issues, including BART (by Mike Healy), the F-line (Peter Ehrlich), the Market Street Railway of 1893 (Emilio Echeverria) and the overall heritage operation (Rick Laubscher). We’ll post the schedule for these a few days before the weekend.

This is a Heritage Weekend you don’t want to miss!

6 Comments on Muni Bus Centennial Celebrated at Heritage Weekend
Share

84% Support Historic Streetcars

In the increasingly frothy world of online media, we’ve noticed a definite increase in stories designed to create a controversy where there really isn’t one. With today’s frantic competition for eyeballs, competitors will often build on each other’s story without doing any actual, you know, reporting. (Not that this is just an online media thing; who of a certain age can forget the Chronicle’s “crusade” against bad coffee half a century ago, under the unforgettable headline, “A Great City’s People Forced to Drink Swill.” But we digress.)

Recent case in point on the fake controversy front. The Examiner’s Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez ran a straightforward story on May 30 about SFMTA’s (Muni’s) application for a federal grant to fund the next steps in the proposed historic streetcar extension to Fort Mason. (Joe Fitz, as he’s widely known, routinely breaks good transportation stories through solid old fashioned reporting, only to have his work parroted, often with no credit, by numerous online sites.) This time, the site StreetsblogSF picked up Joe’s story (with full credit) but decided to spice it up with controversy by turning into a story that asked the question, “Is it Time to Modernize the F-line?” The story revived a post the site made back in 2009, asking the same question, that went nowhere. Both stories almost certainly were suggested to the editor by Tom Radulovich, executve director of Livable City, the non-profit associated with the blog. Tom’s a former BART board member and the primary proponent of replacing the F-line vintage streetcars with modern low-floor streetcars. (These would very likely require major track rebuilding wherever used because they would probably not clear crowns on the hills as is, but we’ll leave feasibility out of this discussion.) We’ve talked cordially with Tom on this topic numerous times and, in friendly terms, agreed to disagree.

Anyway, StreetsblogSF ran its story and the comments on the site were strongly in favor of keeping the old streetcars. Immediately though, other local online news sites jumped in to take advantage of the “controversy,” which wasn’t really that at all, just basically one guy’s opinion.

One of these sites, CurbedSF, which primarily covers real estate, jumped in a few days later and regurgitated the story (must have been a slow day in the development/property world). (Neither of these sites bothered calling us for our views before posting their initial story, by the way, though when we called them, CurbedSF did incorporate our comments in an update.)

CurbedSF did add something new to the “controversy”, though, which is the point of this post.They asked their readers to vote on whether they wanted the historic streetcars to stay on Market Street and the Waterfront, or be replaced.

More than 260 readers responded to the question, “Is it time to get rid of the historic streetcars?” 16% said, “Yes,” while 84% — 5 out of every 6 respondents — said, “No.” San Franciscans know there’s almost nothing in this town that gets 84% agreement.

So maybe we can bid farewell, at least for awhile, to this manufactured “controversy”, and focus efforts on making the historic streetcar service run more efficiently, with cashless boarding (pre-paid fares on the busiest parts of the line), even more automobile traffic reduction on Market Street along with consolidated stops from Van Ness to the Ferry, better line management on both lines, but particularly the E-line, and other low-cost measures that Market Street Railway has been advocating for years.

This survey should erase any remaining doubt that the historic streetcars are highly valued by San Franciscans. Now’s the time to actually do something about helping their riders complete their trips faster.

2 Comments on 842 Support Historic Streetcars
Share

No F-line Streetcars on the 4th of July

We received this notification from Muni:

The F Market will be motorized all day and around 3PM, it will have a reroute short of Pier 39 at Bay Street given the street closures. The E line will operate with streetcars until about 2PM, when they will pull-in and be replaced by motorcoaches.

So Muni Operations has decided that E-line streetcars can run until 2 pm, but that F-line streetcars somehow cannot run at all on the 4th, even from Castro to the Ferry on Market, which as far as we know is not blocked or otherwise inaccessible to the streetcars.

This will no doubt disappoint lots of folks. We at Market Street Railway weren’t asked our opinion on this. If we were, we would have urged them to run the F-line with streetcars from Castro to the Wharf until things got too crowded there, and then turn the streetcars back at the Ferry loop, keeping streetcar service on Market.

Enjoy your streetcar-free 4th, folks. We hope Muni will reconsider this policy next year.

2 Comments on No F-line Streetcars on the 4th of July
Share

Pittsburgh in Nevada, Inbound

This photo just in from DF Baker in our Market Street Railway Facebook group shows the latest restored PCC from Brookville Equipment Company headed back to San Francisco. It’s Car 1062, freshly repainted to honor Pittsburgh Railways Company. (The PRC logo will be applied after it gets to San Francisco. The photo was taken at a truck stop Mill City, Nevada, between Winnemucca and Reno. The car could arrive in San Francisco Sunday. Once it’s unloaded, Car 1053 will be… — Read More

1 Comment on Pittsburgh in Nevada, Inbound
Share

Muni Heritage Weekend Confirmed for Sept. 9-10

  Mark it down in ink. Muni’s annual Heritage Weekend has now been confirmed for September 9-10, 2017. This year marks the centennial of Muni as a bus operator, and we will be working with Muni to showcase several of its historic buses, in addition to the usual array of special vintage streetcars and cable cars that will operate that weekend. Operating hours will be 10 a.m. until about 5 p.m.  The action will be centered again around our San… — Read More

1 Comment on Muni Heritage Weekend Confirmed for Sept. 9-10
Share

Welcome Back, Harvey Milk’s Streetcar!

The streetcar honoring Harvey Milk, civil rights icon and transit advocate, was rededicated in a ceremony at the Castro Street F-line terminal on Wednesday, March 15. Car 1051, looking factory fresh, was on display at the spare track next to Jane Warner Plaza while a parade of speakers, led by district Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, paid tribute to Harvey Milk — and to Muni’s parent, SFMTA, and Market Street Railway for their respective roles in keeping the F-line up to date.… — Read More

No Comments on Welcome Back, Harvey Milk’s Streetcar!
Share

First Rebuilt PCC, Honoring Harvey Milk, to be Welcomed Back March 15

  The first of 16 PCC streetcars to go back into service following a complete rebuilding at Brookville Equipment Corporation in Pennsylvania will be celebrated at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15 at the F-line terminal on 17th Street at Castro and Market. Streetcar 1051 will be rededicated to Harvey Milk, to whom it was originally dedicated in 2009. The streetcar contains informational displays, prepared by Market Street Railway, celebrating Harvey Milk not only as a pioneering openly gay elected official… — Read More

1 Comment on First Rebuilt PCC, Honoring Harvey Milk, to be Welcomed Back March 15
Share

“Service Improvement” on the F-line? You decide.

If you’re riding the F-line this sunny Saturday morning, you’ll find fewer streetcars out there, and longer wait times. But not to worry, it’s a “service improvement.”  Who says so? Muni. Muni’s parent, SFMTA, sent out a blog post entitled “More Muni Forward Service Improvements Roll Out”. The F-line is mentioned. But when you click through to the story, it’s, well, a different story. After listing other “improvements” (including cutting back a major crosstown bus line to eliminate transfers to the… — Read More

11 Comments on “Service Improvement” on the F-line? You decide.
Share

E-line Problem Discourages Riders

A technical problem with a switch near the southern E-line terminal has forced certain streetcars to skip the final stop at Caltrain, discouraging some riders from using the service. As it was explained to us by Muni management, two of the seven double-end PCC streetcars assigned to the E-line have problems reversing at the Sixth and King Streets terminal because of a fault in a switch. The other five PCCs are able to bypass the problem by cutting power and… — Read More

12 Comments on E-line Problem Discourages Riders
Share

NextMuni Predictions Seemingly Better for Streetcars Now

After a spell when GPS-based predictions of when the next streetcar would arrive at a particular stop on the E- and F-line had become wildly inaccurate (when they occurred at all), things seem to have improved. The historic streetcar fleet appears to have received new modems able to transmit location information to the NextMuni system. An excellent story by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez appears in the Examiner this morning. Muni’s rail fleet, including the LRVs, now seems to have returned to… — Read More

1 Comment on NextMuni Predictions Seemingly Better for Streetcars Now
Share

Muni Arrival Times Inaccurate Right Now

Don’t try to use the live E- and F-line maps linked to this website right now. This post from SFMTA (Muni) explains why. The maps we use, customized with icons of streetcars in the historic fleet, are really cool when they work, because they show you exactly which cars are on the line and where they are. We know people all over the world check in on these maps every day to follow their favorite vintage streetcars. The data that feeds… — Read More

1 Comment on Muni Arrival Times Inaccurate Right Now
Share

Fleet Weekend Service Adjustments on E, F

The weekend of Fleet Week (that’s Saturday-Sunday, October 8-9 this year) is one of the most crowded weekends along The Embarcadero with pedestrians, motorists, and transit riders all jamming in along the waterfront to see the Navy ships, the Blue Angels air show and more. This year, the Italian Heritage Parade takes place Sunday on top of it all, closing Jefferson Street (and the F-line route) through Fisherman’s Wharf for a time. Muni has just announced some service adjustments for… — Read More

No Comments on Fleet Weekend Service Adjustments on E, F
Share

Terrific Heritage Weekend

This year’s Muni Heritage Weekend was the best of the five that have taken place so far. Biggest crowds, more kids and families, more vintage vehicles operating, more variety in the routes operated. Kudos to everyone involved on Muni’s side — and there were dozens, operators, mechanics, supervisors, and more, directed by Ed Cobean. Here are a few shots of the action. The weekend started with a ceremonial run of O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car 42 over Hyde Street… — Read More

1 Comment on Terrific Heritage Weekend
Share

Here Comes Muni Heritage Weekend

This year’s Muni Heritage Weekend got off to a great start with a special reception, sponsored by Market Street Railway, honoring San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board Chair Tom Nolan, who just received a prestigious industry award. The universally-respected Nolan, a steady hand in leading SFMTA for many years, was just named board member of the year by the American Public Transportation Association. Following the invitation-only reception at our San Francisco Railway Museum, everyone hopped on 1934 Blackpool, England boat… — Read More

No Comments on Here Comes Muni Heritage Weekend
Share