This year’s San Francisco Fleet Week (October 7-14) saw more vintage streetcars participating than ever. It all came together quickly, once SFMTA (Muni) was able to sign up operators for overtime work.
Melbourne Tram 496, celebrating its 90th birthday, ran the E-Embarcadero line for several days, passing its country’s new destroyer HMAS Brisbane, berthed at Pier 17. And while there were no ships from the Swiss Navy in port this year for Fleet Week, “EuroPCC” 737, painted to honor San Francisco’s sister city Zurich, ran the full F-line a couple of days.
We will be working closely with Fleet Week leaders and SFMTA to try to make next year’s event even better, from a streetcar participation perspective. Thanks for this year’s help to Randy Catanach, SFMTA chief of rail maintenance; Craig Raphael of special transit operations, and Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum.
Take a quick ride on Blackpool Boat Tram 233 during San Francisco’s Fleet Week, where you’ll see a slightly newer boat, the US Navy’s first stealth destroyer, USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), and get the sights and sounds of this authentic 1934 streetcar from England on a perfect fall day. You can ride the boat until Sunday afternoon, October 13, at 6 p.m., as part of Muni’s tribute to Fleet Week. And it’s FREE!
The Boat to be used is Number 233, which Market Street Railway acquired for Muni in 2013. Most of this summer, the two-day-a-week Boat runs on the waterfront have been provided by twin Boat 228 (which, surprise, Market Street Railway acquired for Muni in 1984). That Boat got a little owie this past Tuesday, leading to a Boatless Wednesday, which was scheduled to be the last day of Boat service. But after we (Market Street Railway) were initially told by Muni operations staff that they were unable to put a boat out to delight the biggest crowds of San Francisco’s annual maritime celebration, Fleet Week — on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when ships are open to the public and the Navy’s Blue Angels fly — special efforts were made. Thanks to those efforts, the Boat will sail, sure to draw big crowds on what will almost certainly be the last public Boat service of 2019.
For 2020, SFMTA Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum has told us she plans to repeat this summer’s successful two-day-a-week boat service on The Embarcadero, and she has asked Randy’s maintenance team to take the off-season to do some needed work on 233 and repair 228 (minor issue) so both boats are ready for a busy 2020 summer. Thanks to Julie, Randy, and everyone at SFMTA who supports what are probably Muni’s most popular vehicles among San Franciscans.
You should be able to follow the Boat’s Fleet Week adventures (“Hi, Sailor!”) on its very own Twitter account as told to our Board Member, Chris Arvin. Chris has designed a Boat Tram pin to go with the wonderful streetcar icon stickers he created, which we sell at our museum and online store. We’ll let you know when the pin is available at our physical and online and on Chris’ personal site.
Now if we can just get a Friday picture of the Melbourne Tram filled with Aussie sailors from HMAS Brisbane, docked at Pier 15-17, near The Exploratorium. (That ship is open for tours Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Come say G’Day.)
SFMTA Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum has approved the extension of summer Blackpool Boat Tram service through Fleet Week in mid-October. The boat will continue to operate from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on The Embarcadero between our San Francisco Railway Museum and Pier 39 every Tuesday and Wednesday through October 9.
This is a welcome development, given the great popularity of the Boat Tram so far this summer. In last weekend’s Muni Heritage celebration, riders queued up for more than an hour to ride the Boat, but on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, there’s generally no waiting to ride.
The Boat Tram has gotten so popular, it now has its own Twitter account: @boattramsf. Well worth following; so much so that the San Francisco Chronicle just wrote a story about it, calling the Boat Tram “San Francisco’s Celebrity Trolley”. (Spoiler: our Board Member Chris Arvin is behind the Twitter account, and the cool logo above as well.
Pro tip: You can find the boat’s exact location when it’s out on our Live Streetcar Map. (You can access the map anytime on your phone or laptop by just typing in streetcar.live as the URL.)
And don’t forget, you can ride the boat along Market Street on its trips in and out of service at the beginning or ending of the day. The boat reaches Market and Church Streets on its way downtown around 10:30 a.m. The trip back up Market at the end of the day varies according to operations during the day, but it’s on our map.
Thanks to Julie Kirschbaum for extending the Boat’s voyage.
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,… — Read More
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: 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… — Read More
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… — Read More
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… — Read More
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
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
For the first time in 77 years today, the biggest cable car in San Francisco (or anywhere for that matter) climbed “halfway to the stars” and back down again under cable power, in regular service conditions. The cable car known as “Big 19” for its size (seven feet longer than Powell Street Cable Car 19, and four feet longer than the California Street cable cars, previously the longest in the fleet) has been on the streets twice before in recent… — Read More
Early this morning, a cable car originally constructed in 1883 became Muni’s oldest operating transit vehicle. Early this morning, Sacramento & Clay Sts. cable car 19 made a full trip on the California Street line pulled by the cable. It was the first time this cable car was pulled by a cable on the street in 77 years, since its retirement in 1942. This news, and these wonderful photos, come from Market Street Railway member Traci Cox who documented the… — Read More
Yesterday (July 25) was an action-packed day on the waterfront, and included an opportunity seized, and one missed. Here’s what went down. E-and F-line service north of the Ferry Building was disrupted by a power problem at the Wharf and a couple of streetcar breakdowns (not sure if they were related). This occurred around the time EuroPCC 737 arrived at Don Chee Way to go into service. Inspectors sent several cars south on the E-line to get out of the… — Read More
With Blackpool, England Boat Tram 228 pulling an temporary “Brexit” from this summer’s special waterfront streetcar service on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Muni Chief Julie Kirschbaum is sending in fun substitutes to fill in. The coming two Tuesdays and Wednesdays (July 23-24 and July 30-31), 1952 Euro PCC 737 (which operated in Brussels but is painted to honor San Francisco’s Sister City, Zurich, Switzerland) will be cruising the waterfront. As a bonus, it will also operate on Swiss National Day, Thursday,… — Read More
Note: A version of this article is contained in the current edition of the Market Street Railway magazine Inside Track, reaching mailboxes now. It has been updated here. By Carmen Clark, MSR Board Chair and Rick Laubscher, MSR President Edward D. Reiskin, Director of Transportation (the top executive) of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, is moving on from his post. His last day in the office was this week. We at Market Street Railway will greatly miss his… — Read More