New Boat at E-line Ceremony July 31

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Muni’s new “boat tram,” Blackpool, England open-top Car No. 233, will officially debut on July 31 at the opening press event for the new E-Embarcadero line. The new boat tram, Muni’s second example of this popular 1934 design, was acquired for Muni by Market Street Railway in 2013, thanks to a very generous donation by the Thoresen Foundation, and ocean shipping subsidized by FedEx Trade Networks.  The boat, pictured above when on display during 2013’s Muni Heritage Weekend, has been out and about testing and training operators this week.

Photo seekers should be able to get excellent shots from the new Brannan Street Wharf on the Bay across from the Brannan Street Muni Metro Station.  The new boat, and PCC No. 1006 will pass by on E-line track about 10:30 a.m.  The two streetcars will proceed along the E-line right-of-way on The Embarcadero, branching off where the N- and T-line lines go into the subway at Folsom, and continuing north to Mission, where the press event will take place. We’ll be looking for one of these images for our 2017 Market Street Railway calendar, so please submit them to our Flickr group, tagged 2017msrcalendar.

You can also view the E-line press event at Mission and The Embarcadero, starting at 10:45 a.m. If you come, stop by our museum at the Steuart Street F-line stop, and be one of the first to pick up our new 2016 calendar, just delivered to us.

Remember, weekend E-line service starts this Saturday, August 1, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. between the Caltrain station at Fourth and King, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Streetcars will operate every 15 minutes.

IMPORTANT: Though boat tram No. 233 will be “christened” on July 31 as part of the E-line celebration, it will not actually operate on the E-line, nor will its twin, No. 228, because the E-line requires double-end streetcars. While the boats operated as double-enders in Blackpool, Muni needed to create a wheelchair space on board to conform to the Americans With Disabilities Act. This required the doors on one side to be blocked. So No. 223 is not expected to carry regular passengers on Friday. Market Street Railway is working with SFMTA to try to get both boats into regular service for a number of days on the F-line later this year, and we expect both to operate for Muni Heritage Weekend, September 26-27.

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Walgreen’s Invents New Transit Vehicle

Underneath the very intersection of historic transit in San Francisco, in the basement of the old Emporium (now a food court named — wait for it — the Food Emporium), is a shiny new Walgreen’s. Kind of a mini-Walgreen’s, actually. There are a couple of bigger ones within a block or two (are drug stores multiplying like Starbucks?)

Anyway, just so you don’t think you’re dealing with some kind of national chain or anything, they’ve got a sign saying they’ve been in San Francisco since 1937. And to PROVE it, they’ve got a drawing of a cable car. With a trolley pole on top. Wait. No, it’s a streetcar. Running on a cable car track. (Dear railfans, no lectures on Washington DC or Manhattan streetcar conduit systems, please. And no, we don’t think they intended to show the old Fillmore Hill counterbalance.)
Wait, maybe it’s a hybrid.
Or maybe it’s just a mistake.
Dear Walgreen’s-in-San Francisco-since-1937. Learn the difference between how streetcars and cable cars look and work. And oh, by the way, we’ve got a great field guide for you to carry in your Market Street stores. (Smile.)

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Warriors Arena in Mission Bay Boosts Importance of Extending the E-Line

The Warriors now say their future lies on the border of Mission Bay and Dogpatch, instead of a mile farther north on Piers 30-32. The 125-foot tall, 18,000-seat arena the basketball team proposed to build over the Bay along the southern Embarcadero is now slated for a site the Warriors just bought on the east side of Third Street, between South and 16th Streets.
Unlike the Pier 30-32 site, this site fits within current zoning and would need only a fraction of the approvals and reviews of the pier site. Prominent opponents of the pier site, including former Mayor Art Agnos and former Supervisor Aaron Peskin, are cheering the Warriors’ choice of the Mission Bay site, so while no proposed development ever encounters totally smooth sailing in San Francisco, this one looks to have a strong chance of actually getting built.


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A vintage PCC streetcar, in special service, pauses at the station on Third Street that would serve the new Warriors arena, as a T-line light rail vehicle heads in the other direction. Market Street Railway advocates permanent E-line vintage streetcar service through Mission Bay and Dogpatch by the time the Warriors arena opens, slated for 2018. Copyrighted photo by Kevin Sheridan.

That makes the extension of the E-Embarcadero historic streetcar line even more important. Muni’s parent, SFMTA, now says they’ll begin preliminary weekend service on the E-line next year, but only between the Caltrain Depot (Fourth and King Streets) and Fisherman’s Wharf. As our members and readers of this blog know well, Market Street Railway is joined by a growing number of neighborhood and business groups in advocating the extension of the E-line, west from the Wharf to Fort Mason on new track, and south from Caltrain along the existing T-line tracks on Third Street, terminating at Muni Metro East at Cesar Chavez and Illinois Streets.
This southern extension would connect the rapidly multiplying residential developments in Mission Bay and Dogpatch, the fast-growing UCSF Mission Bay campus, the Giants’ mixed-use development just south of China Basin and the large proposed developments at Pier 70 with all the waterfront attractions to the north, including the Ferry Building, the Exploratorium, and the Wharf area.
The E-line extension was already justified, in our view, by the existing and in-process developments alone. Add a new arena that will host in excess of 200 events a year, and an extended E-line becomes a necessity to avoid gridlock in the neighborhood.
Remember that the T-Third light rail line, which currently turns east at Fourth and King to follow the waterfront before dipping into the Market Street Subway, will be rerouted into the Central Subway when it’s finished in 2019. That’s great for those moving between the arena and Moscone Center, Powell Street BART, Union Square, and Chinatown, but it also means no more direct rail service from Mission Bay and Dogpatch to the southern Embarcadero. An extended E-line would provide that service and continue to popular destinations to the north, up to and including Fisherman’s Wharf. The E-line makes it easy to combine a day or meal at the Wharf with an evening event at the arena.
You can read about, and download our comprehensive vision for the E-line here. Note that since we published our vision last year, we’ve joined Dogpatch neighbors and businesses in advocating that the E-line extend farther south than shown in the document, all the way through Dogpatch.
We’ll continue to work with neighborhood and business groups along the E-line to make our vision a reality. It’s clearly needed more now than ever.

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E-Line Finally Budgeted…For 2016!


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It’s going to take even longer before you see this sight every day. E-line service won’t be full-time until 2016.

As the old saying goes, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news is the SFMTA Board of Directors has approved funding to start regular E-line service.
The bad news is that full-time E-line service isn’t funded until the spring of 2016, with weekend service (11 a.m.-7 p.m.) okayed to start in the summer of 2015. The schedule was contained in the Transit Effectiveness Program adopted by the SFMTA Board last Friday.
Market Street Railway and numerous community and business groups along the E-line route have been advocating that SFMTA budget E-line operating funds earlier in the next two-year budget cycle, which begins July 1, 2014. We pressed our case with SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, who acknowledged the importance of the line, but stated that other priorities, such as increased bus service in the Mission Street corridor, ranked even higher. Reiskin also indicated that a shortage of training staff and rail operators would have precluded start-up of E-line service this summer in any event.
This was presented to us as a fait accompli, with no consultation, discussion, or community outreach, a far cry from the process SFMTA followed with changes to existing lines. When outreach was conducted on existing routes, several proposals were changed by SFMTA staff in response to community concerns.
Reiskin and service planning director Julie Kirschbaum pointed out that there is going to be increased vintage streetcar service within a month or two: new schedules for the F-line reduce headways from six minutes between streetcars to five minutes at some times of the day. This may help alleviate some of the crowding on the line.
While appreciative that some funding has finally come through for E-line operation, Market Street Railway believes that weekend-only service is not a good idea (except for a brief period to gain operational experience for Muni staff working and managing the line). The need for the E-line service is there seven days a week, not two. Irregular operation will likely prove confusing to prospective passengers and lead to disappointment and disillusionment. For this reason, we will continue to advocate for accelerated startup of the E-line.
We will also advocate for the earliest possible extension of the E-line south through Mission Bay to Dogpatch. Looping the cars through Muni Metro East, using a convenient track at the western edge of the yard (adjacent to Illinois Street between 25th Street and Cesar Chavez Street) would allow all vintage streetcars to serve the E-line, providing Muni with great operating flexibility.
The Phase One plan, terminating at the existing stub end tracks in the King Street median next to Caltrain, restricts the E-line to double-ended streetcars, which comprise only about 20 percent of the active vintage fleet. (And for those who wonder, the Breda LRVs are not an option. Muni often doesn’t have enough for its regular LRV lines and there is not enough electrical capacity on north of the Ferry Building to accommodate more than a handful of LRVs anyway.)
We are urging SFMTA to make the minor platform modifications along Third Street to allow E-line vintage streetcars to pick up and drop off passengers through Mission Bay and Dogpatch. These could be in place by the adopted Spring 2016 start-up for the E-line. We hope our advocacy, combined with that of neighborhood and business groups in that area, pays off.

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Very Special Cable Car Rail Gifts

The cable cars are world famous historic artifacts, of course, but they couldn’t climb even a quarter-way to the stars without good rail underneath their wheels. Since the first cable car ran on Clay Street in 1873, different rail profiles have been used on different lines around the city. Now, we’re offering a pair of unique gifts at our San Francisco Railway Museum that show off the variety of historic cable car rail in the city. Years ago, we had… — Read More

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On Donner!

Two beautiful sights in one: snow falling this morning on Donner Summit (keep it coming!) and PCC No. 1009, painted in tribute to Dallas, headed back to San Francisco. MSR Member James Giraudo caught this great action shot. No. 1009 arrived safely in the city this afternoon, completing its return trip to Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania for refitting of the traditional-style door motors that work better than the computerized ones installed during the recent overhaul program. No. 1009 should… — Read More

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Opposition Streams In to Higher F-line Fare

The proposal from SFMTA staff to consider a fare increase of either 50% or 300% for the F-line historic streetcar service is predictably being met with strong opposition. On his Facebook page, Supervisor Scott Weiner writes, “Muni is also considering raising the F line fare to $6, even though a lot of residents rely on this line and particularly so as an alternative when the subway melts down…tripling the fare on a line used by residents would show an agency… — Read More

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The “Euro-PCC” is Back in Action.

Photo by Brice Crandall, San Francisco Railway Museum. After an extended absence, the most exotic looking PCC streetcar in Muni’s fleet is carrying passengers again, working the F-line shuttle run from the Wharf to the Ferry Building yesterday (Saturday, February 15, 2014), after a prolonged absence waiting for some parts specific to the car, followed by operator training, led by Muni’s Robert Parks. You can read all about this streetcar here. The slender design (just 7’3″ wide, almost two feet… — Read More

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On the Good Ship Lollipop

Today, we bid a fond farewell to Shirley Temple Black, actress and diplomat, who passed away last night at her Peninsula home. She was 85. Shirley Temple is generally considered the most famous child star ever. In dozens of films during the 1930s, she lifted moviegoers’ spirits and touched their hearts with her upbeat persona and infectious dimpled smile. Some of her songs, such as “Good Ship Lollipop,” were hummed or whistled by people everywhere. In the depths of the… — Read More

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Brussels ‘Sprouts’ in the (Premature) Spring

Jeremy Whiteman photo. All rights reserved. Okay, enough with the bad puns. Point is that a historic streetcar long missing from the streets is running again. European PCC No. 737, which served Brussels, Belgium for a half-century, was out for testing last Saturday, while the rest of the historic streetcars took a break because of track construction on Market Street. The tram, confusingly painted to honor San Francisco’s sister city, Zurich, Switzerland at the request of then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, reportedly… — Read More

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No Way to Start Its Centennial Year!

Tim Jue photo via the Market Street Railway Facebook group. A collision involving historic streetcar No. 162 early Saturday afternoon (January 4) caused significant but hopefully largely cosmetic damage to the vintage vehicle, which had just begun its centennial year of service. In an article, the Chronicle grossly overstated the extent of the damage, describing the streetcar as “totaled,” which is simply wrong. Purchased by Muni in 1914 from the Jewett Car Company of Ohio, No. 162 was one of… — Read More

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Happy 101st, Muni!

December 28, 1912, Muni’s first 10 streetcars paraded out Geary Street from Kearny to the Richmond District, launching America’s first publicly owned big city transit system. Today, Muni turned 101 by turning in another regular day of service, carrying hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans and visitors around town safely. In other words, a quiet birthday, a far cry from the centennial activities last year. The closest thing to a celebration today was 1914 streetcar No. 130, acquired by Muni… — Read More

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Toy Train Layout?

Christmas is coming, which for many railfans means time to break out the train set and set it up under the tree. This shot looks a bit like that, but it’s actually the back of Cameron Beach Yard, where the ladder track (a series of switches connecting the various tracks in the shop building) is being replaced, part of Muni’s ongoing re-railing activities. The vintage streetcars aren’t much affected; they just back into the shop tracks from the other side.… — Read More

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Hot Holiday Gift Ideas at Our Museum

Hey, what if Mark Zuckerberg loved Muni? Hey, maybe he does. I mean, he now has a place on the J-Church! Well, maybe you can’t own Mark’s house, but you can own his hoodie — complete with historic Muni logo! $49.95 for most sizes; super big sizes a little more; all the details are on that link you just passed. The new hoodie, long requested, is just one of the latest additions to the gift offerings at our San Francisco… — Read More

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Muni Heritage Weekend: Same Time Next Year!

The past weekend’s Muni Heritage Weekend was so successful, Muni’s parent, SFMTA, and Market Street Railway has agreed to do it again next year, Saturday-Sunday, November 1-2 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mark your calendars now, and if you’re a ways from San Francisco, start making your travel plans. Here are some photos from the past weekend. All the vehicles that operated this year are expected back next year, with a couple of additional buses possible as well. And,… — Read More

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