Another Rebuilt PCC Enters Service

The seventh PCC streetcar from the original 1995 F-line fleet reentered passenger service on this drizzly January 10, 2018, after successfully completing 1,000 miles of testing, It was then formally accepted by Muni from the restoration vendor, Brookville Equipment Company of Pennsylvania.

Car 1055, like the other 12 single-end PCCs in the contract, came to Muni from Philadelphia, where it operated for almost a half-century. While the other PCCs in that group are painted in tribute to some of the other 32 North American cities that once ran PCCs, 1055 wears its own “as-delivered” 1948 green livery with cream and red trim. It’s even adorned with an authentic decal near the front door, instructing boarding passengers to “Please move to rear to speed your ride”, donated courtesy of Harry Donohue of the Friends of the Philadelphia Trolleys and applied by the Muni shops before the car entered service. Thanks to Ken Kwong of our Facebook group for the photo.

Meanwhile, the ninth car in the contract, 1050, arrived safely at Muni Metro East following the long journey from Brookville and will soon enter testing. It now wears the red and cream livery of St. Louis Public Service Company, one of the largest operators of PCCs back in the day. Allen Chan posted the photo below of 1050 arriving at MME on January 7.

Sandwiched in between those two cars, in order of delivery, is Car 1063, painted in tribute to Baltimore Transit Company. On New Year’s day, just a couple weeks after reentering regular service, it was badly damaged in an accident on Third Street.

According to Muni statements, the driver of a box truck swerved from the right hand southbound lane on Third Street against the left turn signal directly into the path of the streetcar, which was operating below the 25 mile per hour limit on that stretch of road. We are told video footage from the streetcar itself shows all this. We do not know if the truck driver was charged by police or whether the truck is insured.

The repairs to Car 1063 will be very expensive because the right front corner of the car, where the worst damage occurred, houses much of the streetcar’s electrical control equipment. We will let you know when a final decision has been made on whether the car would be repaired in-house or sent out on a contract. If the latter, it would likely have to be a separate contract from the Brookville renovation contract that refurbished the car in the first place. Muni had accepted the car, relieving Brookville of all liability for it, and the renovation contract does not include repairs. Scoping and bidding a separate contract would likely take many months.

Currently under reconstruction at Brookville: Cars 1052, 1053, and 1061. The next car slated to go to Brookville is 1015, the first of three-double end cars to be covered under the Brookville contract. It is still at MME while discussions between Muni and Brookville continue about whether to substitute two ex-Red Arrow double-end cars (with PCC bodies) for two of the cars covered by the contract. We’ve covered this story for our Members in our quarterly magazine, Inside Track, and will have an update in our next issue. Join Market Street Railway now and don’t miss out!

 

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Rebuilt PCC 1050 Heads to SF, Honoring St. Louis

 

Our “spies” are everywhere, as evidenced by this photo posted by Jim Kulczyk in a Facebook group called “Civil Defense Fire Vehicles.” He writes: “My sister is a truck driver somewhere in [Southwest Pennsylvania] and caught this electric trolley being transported on a flat bed. Couldn’t help but notice the CD insignia. Looks to be in great museum condition.”

Well, yes, but more than that it should be in great OPERATING condition because it has just finished being thoroughly rebuilt at Brookville Equipment Company, the eighth of 16 vehicles in Muni’s current contract with Brookville. Car 1050 returns to San Francisco wearing the livery of one of the largest PCC operators ever, St. Louis Public Service Company (SLPS). We are delighted to see a PCC car in SLPS livery. Muni bought 70 PCCs second-hand from SLPS between 1957 and 1962, and one of those cars ran here in St. Louis livery during the Trolley Festivals of the 1980s.

Muni retains that car (renumbered to its original SLPS 1704) as one of about a dozen non-operational cars of this class, which have now been in dead storage for 30 or more years. None is currently slated for rebuilding, though some may be put back into service sometime in the future if demand warrants. But since no one knows when that might be, Market Street Railway encouraged Muni to repaint the 1050 into St. Louis colors as an overdue honor to that great system.

About that Civil Defense decal near the front door that caught Mr. Kulczyk’s attention: Market Street Railway suggested that be included, based on historic photographs that showed it to be common on SLPS cars during the era when that CD sign was common. (Muni streetcars had them on their windshields for a time as well, though it was unclear exactly where the streetcars could take you that represented an improvement over anyplace else on the streetcar system in case of a dire emergency. We like to see details gotten right where we can do so, though, so there it is.

This is a spot of good news in the wake of the collision on New Year’s Day evening that seriously damaged the most recent PCC in this contract to return to regular service, Car 1063, honoring Baltimore. We will provide updates on that event, and on 1050’s arrival in San Francisco, as we learn of them. When 1050 arrives in San Francisco, it is expected that the first of three-double end PCCs covered by the contract, Car 1015, will depart for Brookville and its complete rebuilding.

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“Newest” PCC Streetcar Collides with Truck

Around 8:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day, the newest PCC streetcar to reenter regular service following a complete rebuilding collided with a large box truck while returning to the carbarn after completing its day’s work on the F-line. The impact knocked the streetcar, No. 1063 (painted to honor Baltimore Transit), off the track and turned the truck on its side. No injuries had been reported by the time this post was made. The streetcar had no passengers aboard at the time of the collision.

Car 1063 was southbound on Third Street, headed for Muni Metro East, its storage and maintenance base, when it collided with the truck at Mission Bay Boulevard South. The 1063 suffered extensive damage to its door side front corner. The driver’s side corner and the rest of the car appeared undamaged, though it is possible there could be frame damage underneath. Damage to the truck was also extensive.

Observations made at the scene seem to indicate that the truck was struck in the middle of its box behind the cab, with the force of the impact flipping the truck on its side and derailing the streetcar. The angle of impact suggests that the truck was turning left from southbound Third Street onto eastbound Mission Bay Boulevard South at the time of the collision. This was confirmed to news media by a Muni spokesperson.

The intersection is signalized for both streetcars and motor vehicle traffic, with separate left turn signals that are interlocked with the streetcar signals so that only one or the other is given a signal to proceed at a given time. No information has been released regarding the setting of the signals at the time of the collision; however, we were told at the scene that there should be security camera footage from the streetcar and perhaps from surrounding buildings that could determine who was at fault.

Car 1063 had reentered regular service within the last month after being completely rebuilt by Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania, part of a contract covering 16 Muni PCCs. Like all streetcars going through the rebuilding program, Car 1063 had to successfully complete a 1,000-mile “burn in” period, during which all systems including propulsion and brakes had to be thoroughly tested and the car had to pass braking tests required by the California Public Utilities Commission before it was certified to carry passengers.

There have been several collisions involving T-line light rail vehicles on Third Street (which is used by F- and E-line streetcars on their way to and from the car barn). These have involved cars or trucks turning left in front of streetcars running in private rights-of-way, such as on The Embarcadero, King Street, and Third Street. In a collision almost exactly four years ago, a truck pulled in front of vintage streetcar 162 on January 4, 2014 at Bay Street and The Embarcadero, causing significant damage to the streetcar (which is currently being repaired in Southern California). The trucker was found at fault and Muni received a substantial insurance payment.

The Third Street tracks were blocked for several hours while the truck was righted, the streetcar re-railed, and the intersection cleared. Buses replaced LRVs on the T-line while Third Street was blocked.

The San Francisco Police Department is investigating the collision. A damage assessment on the streetcar will be made by Muni, but even a cursory visual inspection indicates Car 1063 will be out of service many months.

We will keep you up to date on developments on this story.

 

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Happy 2018 and Thanks!

We at Market Street Railway wish everyone a happy and healthy 2018. We want to take the opportunity to thank all our members and donors, including the many who joined, renewed, or contributed in the past week.

We ourselves were deluged with repeated solicitations from all kinds of worthy organizations in the past month, the same or similar appeals coming over and over both in email and snail mail. We elected instead to send out just one email request to our members and friends to consider a year-end donation, and we’re pleased with the response. We try to respect your time and do as much as we can to keep historical tidbits coming your way even as we continue our advocacy for streetcar extensions, restorations, and service improvements.

We couldn’t do any of this without you, and we just want to say thanks!

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Happy 105th Birthday, Muni!

On December 28, 1912, 50,000 people flooded Geary Street near Market. They were there to cheer a streetcar! More exactly, ten streetcars, lined up in numerical order pointed west, led by Car 1. It was the opening of the first publicly owned transit system in a major American city: the Municipal Railway of San Francisco. The new city-owned streetcar line on Geary was a product of the Progressive Era, which called for ownership of public utilities by the public, not… — Read More

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Santa Claus Was Coming to Town

One of the joys of the San Francisco holiday season 50 or 60 years ago was the arrival of Santa Claus. Not down the chimney on Christmas Eve, but weeks earlier, down Powell Street on a cable car. Along with thousands of San Franciscans of a certain age, I (Rick Laubscher, Market Street Railway president) remember it well. For many years after World War II, the Emporium chartered a cable car each year, decorated it, and carried Santa Claus downtown… — Read More

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Hail and Farewell, Mayor Ed Lee

In transit jargon, the trip to the carbarn after completing the day’s runs is the pull-in. A man who helped revitalize San Francisco’s transit system has unexpectedly — and very sadly — finished his runs, way too soon. Mayor Edwin Lee died suddenly of a heart attack in the early hours of December 12, 2017. He was just 65 years old. Pictured above on a boat tram at the opening of the E-Embarcadero vintage streetcar line in 2015 with then-Supervisor… — Read More

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Snow in San Francisco 85 years ago today

Yep. It happened on December 11, 1932 — one of the few snowfalls in the city proper that actually stuck to the ground, if only for a little while. According to the site “California History,” The City recorded its coldest temperature ever, 27 degrees fahrenheit, on this day. This photo from Charlie Smallwood’s definitive history of the Market Street Railway, The White Front Cars of San Francisco, shows Car 206 on the 1-line at Sutro Division, 32nd and Clement Streets, during a… — Read More

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Welcome Back, Cable Car 22!

The double-deuce hits the street Wednesday, November 29 after being out of service eight years! UPDATE 11/29: Turns out the November 29 runs were for advanced testing…stand by for an announcement on passenger service. Its failing frame and rotting wood were certainly entitled to take a few years off, for Car 22 (once 522) is one of the relatively few surviving original Ferries & Cliff House Railways Cars from 1887. It started on the vanished Sacramento-Clay line, but moved over to… — Read More

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Thanksgiving 2017

This Thanksgiving we’re grateful for all the workers at SFMTA (Muni) who operate the historic streetcars and cable cars and keep them on the streets and looking good. We’re grateful to the SFMTA Board of Directors and Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin for their strong support of historic transit in San Francisco, and to those on their staff who share their commitment. We’re especially grateful to our members and donors who make our advocacy possible. And we’re grateful to be… — Read More

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Perfect November Saturday on the Waterfront

On a picture-perfect November Saturday morning, we were at Aquatic Park shooting some photos for a forthcoming feature in the next issue of our member magazine, Inside Track, about an exciting updated vision for extending streetcar service to western Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Aquatic Park, Municipal Pier, and Fort Mason. (Not a Member?  Join now and get the scoop on this.) Anyway, riding back on the F-line, we hopped off at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market for some shopping. Saw an E-line… — Read More

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Positively (Twenty-)Fourth Street

Okay, the headline reference is anachronistic, because this shot goes WAY back beyond Dylan. So evocative, though, we couldn’t resist the reference. Few are still around who remember streetcars on 24th Street, now the cultural center of the City’s Latino community and known to many as Calle 24. But here we are in 1938 (based on the streetcar and the automobile license plate) looking east on 24th at York Street, staring at a 35-Howard line streetcar. It has just descended… — Read More

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Just Visiting

We stopped by Cameron Beach Yard this afternoon and what should be peeking out but the first of Muni’s new light rail vehicles, built by Siemens. Car 2001 was nestled in between 1914 Muni Car 130 (not visible, at right) and (visible to the left) 1952 Brussels, Belgium PCC 737. There are Bredas under the canopy as well, which Market Street Railway fought for ten years to have built to protect the most vulnerable historic streetcars, which were then based… — Read More

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Van Ness and McAllister, Nov. 1, 1917

This photo from the SFMTA Archive was taken exactly 100 years before the date of this post, on November 1, 1917. No streetcars in the picture, but we do see important infrastructure: the poles that hold up the wires that bring power to the streetcars. We’re at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street, looking northeast across Van Ness. City Hall, then new, sits on the southeast corner of this intersection. Across Van Ness, we see an apartment… — Read More

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Baltimore Blues

Of all the comments we’ve received about Muni’s restored PCC streetcars over the past 30 years, nothing comes close to carping about colors. “You’re half a shade off there, you know.” “I can’t believe you didn’t get that green right.” And on and on and on. Which is why you can call this a pre-emptive post. All you Baltimore Transit experts who look at the photos in this post with your fingers twitching to launch a tirade, step back from… — Read More

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