Countless San Francisco commuters have probably taken a few moments to ponder this simple statement, which has been posted near the operator’s station of every Muni bus and streetcar since the early 1960s. The message is simultaneously friendly and forbidding, inviting yet indifferent, personable yet coldly professional.
And now, it takes on special meaning, since many health officials recommend you minimize your talking in public proximity to others. What could be better than this?
Today is Giving Tuesday, a day promoted around the world to focus people’s attention on the needs of many kinds addressed by nonprofits. We at Market Street Railway know full well, especially right now, that there are urgent needs everywhere. We hope you’ll be able to spare a little something for charities in San Francisco, or wherever you’re reading this, that are helping with the Covid-19 pandemic or other human needs.
We do want to let you know that Covid-19 is hurting our nonprofit in a big way as well. Our San Francisco Railway Museum has been closed for almost two months, and when it does reopen, we expect far fewer gift shop sales from reduced and social distanced visitation. More importantly for San Francisco, there is no date set yet to return the F-line and E-line vintage streetcars to service (Car 1015, shown above, has just returned from a complete rebuilding to better-than-new-in-1948 condition and is being tested on the empty tracks right now to be ready to carry passengers when it’s time). Nor is there a date for returning the National Historic Landmark cable cars to service.
We are focusing our efforts on urging and helping Muni to bring these vehicles back to the streets, in passenger service, just as soon as it is safe for both operators and riders. They are symbols of San Francisco and will be symbols of our city’s recovery.
So, as you give to nonprofits on this Giving Tuesday (or any day for that matter), we hope you will consider donating at least $10 to Market Street Railway, to help the cause of the historic streetcars and cable cars. You can donate here.
We’ve got a whole range of new merchandise you can’t find anywhere else, because we designed it ourselves in support of our mission to preserve and celebrate historic transit in San Francisco.
We’ve got four new 11-ounce mugs featuring images from our Vintage Travel Series — original art we commissioned in the style of classic travel posters celebrating destinations along the historic streetcar and cable car lines.
And for a laugh, we’ve even made it possible for you to turn Muni off (or on!) whenever you like with this cool light switch cover, one of two we offer. (Thanks to Jeremy Whiteman for the great photo of car 1040 we used, including the Z-Zoo route.)
So either come on down to the Museum at 77 Steuart Street (Steuart Street F-line stop), across from the Ferry Building, between 10 am and 5 pm from Tuesday through Sunday (we’re closed Mondays), or click here to shop online. Move quickly if you want to shop online though. We are unable to offer overnight delivery options so be sure you place your order in time to get it for the holidays. And we do have a wider selection of merchandise at the Museum than we’re able to offer online.
Muni unveiled sleek new buses yesterday, both motor coaches and trolley coaches. Their press release was full of positive stuff, and rightly so. Transit chief John Haley deserves credit for pulling strings to get new vehicles ordered and here much faster than used to be the case.
But, as the Chronicle story pointed out, there’s something a little historic missing from the new vehicles:
“some of the familiar signs, replaced mostly with visual images. That includes the classic Muni message: ‘Information Gladly Given But Safety Requires Avoiding Unnecessary Conversation.’ Haley said it’s part of a campaign to eradicate negative and threatening messaging from buses.’ That’s not the environment we want to create,’ he said.”
Well, since our non-profit’s mission is “Preserving Historic Transit in San Francisco,” we figure we’ve got to do something. So we’re not only going to continue to offer our tee shirt bearing that ironic (and now, iconic as well) slogan in the traditional gray, we’ve now added stylish black. (Scroll down the linked webpage to reach the shirt.) Gray or black, starting at $16.95 (members get 10% off!)
There’s no better conversation starter than this shirt, and as Muni excises the slogan from its new vehicles, it’s even more important to own one, to keep the slogan alive!
As mentioned, you can get this great shirt with its endangered slogan online, or at our San Francisco Railway Museum, where we’re rolling out a new shirt featuring a Milan tram as well! (That’ll hit our online store in a few days.)
When our friend Todd Lappin (the guiding light behind the fabulous Bernalwood blog) suggested this shirt to us, he described the slogan as “simultaneously friendly and forbidding, inviting yet indifferent, personable yet coldly professional.” Sums it up pretty well.
Still, it’s not as cheerless as the slogan it replaced: “Do Not Talk To Operator.”
But probably the all-time Muni passenger warning sign was this one, that used to be on the step-down-to-open rear doors of Muni buses in the 1950s and 1960s.
Or, “Don’t squish your kids.” Now that’s threatening!