Happy 109th Birthday, Muni!

Happy 109th Birthday, Muni!
Mayor James Rolph, Jr. personally pilots Car No. 1 past Jones Street on Geary, December 28, 1912. San Francisco Public LIbrary photo.

As the photo makes plain, that was one wild first ride on Muni. Emblematic, we think, of the past 20 months, with constant adjustments made to Muni’s network during the pandemic to meet unprecedented challenges.

On this 109th anniversary of that first ride, we salute all those at SFMTA who have kept service operating. And we join them in hoping for a smoother ride in 2022 and beyond.

Happy 109th Birthday, Muni!

Meanwhile, it’s worth remembering that on this date in 1912, 50,000 San Franciscans (not a typo) came out to cheer “the People’s Road” as Mayor Rolph called it: the first publicly-owned big city transit system in America. And it’s worth celebrating the fact that Muni’s very first streetcar (at the front of the line in the photo, on Geary between Grant and Stockton) is still in Muni’s fleet, fully restored for the Railway’s 2012 centennial.

Want to learn more about Muni’s history, decade by decade? We’ll publish several articles as 2022 begins, one every week, to fill you in. So watch this space!

Happy New Year to everyone at SFMTA/Muni, and to our members, donors and friends around the world. IMPORTANT NOTE: Through December 31, donations you make to our nonprofit are matched dollar for dollar (up to $8.000 total) thanks to generous challenge grants from members of our board of directors and leadership. Donate here!

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Come take a cruise (or say G’Day)

Come take a cruise (or say G'Day)

The Blackpool Boat Tram and the Melbourne tram both cruised The Embarcadero to the delight of riders and onlookers on their initial day of Fleet Week service, Thursday, October 8. They’ll be out every day through Monday, October 11, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. between our San Francisco Railway Museum (across from the Ferry Building) and Pier 39.

Come take a cruise (or say G'Day)

Our museum will be open Friday, Saturday, and (just added) Sunday from 11-5.

Come take a cruise (or say G'Day)

Need additional incentive to come down? The boat and Melbourne rides are FREE!

Come take a cruise (or say G'Day)
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Sorrow and outrage

Sorrow and outrage

Transit workers are our nation’s frontline warriors for urban mobility. And their workplace can be dangerous, with maintenance workers handling heavy machinery and large moving vehicles and operators facing traffic and, increasingly, unhinged and sometimes violent passengers.

But what happened in San Jose yesterday morning at the Valley Transportation Authority light rail yard is another dimension entirely. Words fail us at the horror, so we will let President Biden say it for us.

There are at least eight families [now nine] who will never be whole again. There are children, parents, and spouses who are waiting to hear whether someone they love is ever going to come home. There are union brothers and sisters – good, honest, hardworking people – who are mourning their own. Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and we must, do more. God bless all those whose lives were lost today, and all those who loved them.

President Joe Biden, May 26, 2021

This happened literally just down the tracks from our city, home to two similar light rail yards plus several bus facilities. It has unnerved and outraged everyone who works in those facilities and their families and their friends, as it has transit workers across America. Our hearts are with them as well.

We at Market Street Railway mourn with all of the nation, especially those transit workers everywhere who give us freedom of movement, in the wake of this awful event.

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Streetcars bring smiles to the streets

Smiles are breaking out along the city’s waterfront and along Market Street, as Muni’s vintage streetcars are out in force for the first time in more than a year. The F-line is running a full test schedule, including pull-outs and pull-ins along the J-Church line, in advance of the official reopening of the line for passenger service on May 15. Initial service will run seven days a week, but just eight hours a day (11 am-7 pm) initially, running the whole route from Castro to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Streetcars bring smiles to the streets

EXTRA smiles popped out today with refresher training on two of Muni’s most popular vintage streetcars, including the oldest operating passenger streetcar in America, single-truck “Dinky” 578, which celebrates its 125th birthday at the end of the summer. The great shot above, on the Castro curve at 17th and Market, comes from Jeremy Whiteman.

Traci Cox, normally a master of the low-angle shot, checks in with an “above-it-all” shot of Boat Tram 228 cruising along Church behind a new Siemens LRV, with PCC 1071 in its yellow Minneapolis-St. Paul livery, headed toward its F-line test run.

Streetcars bring smiles to the streets

Here are some other great shots from today. It feels a lot different — and better — on the streets of San Francisco now. The colorful F-line cars make a huge difference.

Streetcars bring smiles to the streets
Cincinnati “Bumblebee” 1057 at the Castro terminal. Peter Straus photo
Streetcars bring smiles to the streets
Chicago “Green Hornet” 1058 on Upper Market. Peter Straus photo
Streetcars bring smiles to the streets
Boston PCC 1059 at Powell, with Cable Car 24 on display on Willie Mays’ 90th birthday. Val Lupiz photo
Streetcars bring smiles to the streets
Philadelphia “Cream Cheese” PCC 1060 at Westfield Centre. Val Lupiz photo

And to finish, c’mon, you know you want to see another boat photo. Here’s a great one to end with, another Traci Cox high angle shot on San Jose Avenue, as the boat tram headed back to Cameron Beach Yard today.

Streetcars bring smiles to the streets

And don’t forget you can vote for your favorite streetcar right now! Click here to learn more!

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Happy 108th Birthday, Muni!

December 28, 1912. Fifty thousand San Franciscans gathered at Market and Geary Streets. Was it a presidential visit? No, it was the transit equivalent of a late visit from Santa. It was a new streetcar line. But symbolically it was a lot more than that. For the ten locally-built gray and maroon streetcars that began running up and down the A-Geary line that day had letterboards on the side emblazoned in gold leaf “MUNICIPAL RAILWAY.” They were the first publicly… — Read More

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F-line’s 25th anniversary

On September 1, 1995, a parade of vintage streetcars rumbled westward on Market Street, led by the wildly popular Boat Tram 228, to officially inaugurate the permanent F-Market streetcar line (extended in 2000 to become the F-Market & Wharves).  Right from that opening day, the F-line, inspired by the success of the summer Trolley Festivals of the 1980s, opened, it was overwhelmed with riders, far outstripping Muni’s predictions. Many Upper Market residents preferred the clean, upholstered vintage PCC streetcars, with… — Read More

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Unhappy 147th birthday, cable cars

In the wee hours of August 2, 1873, Andrew Hallidie gripped the first street cable car in history over a precipice on Clay Street. Hallidie, a Scots immigrant who had extensive expertise in “wire rope” technology to move buckets of ore above ground in the state’s mining district, had applied his knowledge to pull people in little cars up hills that horses couldn’t climb. His franchise for the line had technically expired at midnight on August 1, but there were… — Read More

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Our 2021 Calendar is Here!

We’d advise ordering this beauty quickly, including any gifts you want to give; we produced fewer than last year because of the uncertainty of when our San Francisco Railway Museum will reopen, so for now it’s only available online. Here’s the link to our store, if you don’t need any convincing (and why would you, with 13 eye-popping color photos of Muni’s historic streetcars and cable cars in action on the streets of San Francisco!) (Tip: you can get it… — Read More

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Art Curtis, 1940-2020

Art Curtis passed away on June 20, 2020 at 11:11am. He fought a coura- geous fight with brain cancer, diagnosed in 2018. Art was given three months to live, but willed himself to reach his 80th birthday, and did on June 8! His niece, Kathleen Morelock, informed Art’s many friends of his passing, and shared a dream Art’s sister Kathie had the night before: “Uncle Art came to the bedroom door…took her hand, and they flew together throughout our beautiful… — Read More

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