“Debut” of Muni’s Oldest Bus for Centennial Day


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1938 White motor coach No. 042 on display outside the San Francisco Railway Museum November 11, 2012. Brian Leadingham photo. Click to enlarge.

We just got word that Muni’s oldest surviving bus, a 1938 White model, will mark its return to the operating fleet on Centennial Day, December 28. Motor coach No. 042 will make at least one trip from our San Francisco Railway Museum to Coit Tower and back between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sorry, but we don’t have any more specific information than that to offer here, but we’ll have the latest information on site at the museum, located at the F-line Steuart Street stop.

The 74-year old bus will be wearing its original 1938 orange and black Muni livery for the first time since early in World War II, when the bus fleet was repainted blue and yellow. It’s also wearing its original number, 042, clearly establishing it as one of the first 50 buses Muni ever owned. After World War II, most of this group of buses was scrapped, but three were kept to work the 39-Coit route, which requires a tight turn around the tower parking lot. This coach was renumbered 062 at that time.

Following its retirement from regular service in 1975, the bus was painted into the 1950s green and cream “Wings” scheme and used in parades and other special events. Time finally took its toll on the engine and other components. Muni’s Woods Division team rebuilt the engine, resheeted some of the steel side panels, rebuilt the rusted out stepwells, and made many other repairs. In the process, the original paint scheme and number were restored to the bus. It was on display in November for one of the Sunday Centennial Celebration days, but was only cleared to carry passengers this week.

Also carrying passengers from 10-2 December 28: 1950 Marmon-Herrington trolley coach No. 776, a big hit on the November Centennial Sundays. It will depart from the Steuart Street bus stop next to the museum for short trips around downtown. All rides will be free on December 28 — in fact, the entire Muni system is free that day, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Muni’s very first day of operation, December 28, 1912.


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1950 Marmon-Herrington trolley coach No. 776 in service at Spear and Market Streets, November 4, 2012. Rick Laubscher photo. Click to enlarge.

These are just added attractions to the streetcars expected to carry passengers on the F-line, as explained in our last post. Note, too, that we will be offering our Members and volunteers refreshments at the museum starting at 2 p.m. to thank them for their support.

If you can’t make it down for Centennial Day tomorrow, note that Muni plans to continue to celebrate the centennial in 2013. We are working with them for more special operations of vintage streetcars and buses, this time with much more notice so our Members and friends can plan their trips to enjoy these great vehicles.

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A Trip to the Boneyard!


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1954 Hamburg, Germany tram No. 3557 (right) and two ex-Muni PCC streetcars are among the historic vehicles awaiting restoration at Muni’s "boneyard," as the streetcar storage facility is informally known. Todd Lappin photo.

Recently, a group of Market Street Railway board members joined a tour of Muni’s storage facility for streetcars awaiting restoration. This facility, near Islais Creek, exists in part because of our active advocacy, begun three decades ago, to preserve retired streetcars to meet possible future service needs. Already, several have been plucked from this purgatory and restored to service. We are working to see that more follow, as demand grows for additional service on the F-line and future E-line.
The photo above comes from Market Street Railway board member Todd Lappin, who tells all about the trip here, with many more photos. You can find more information on the tram on the right, from Hamburg, Germany, here.
The visit has also been chronicled by Market Street Railway board member Jeremy Whiteman, who co-chairs our calendar committee, and Jon Wollenhaupt. (Enjoy viewing these photos, but please respect the artists’ copyright rules as posted on their sites.)
As Todd points out, not all the streetcars in the “boneyard” will ultimately be restored. Some, with badly rusted or accident-damaged bodies, have already given up many parts needed to keep the current fleet running. We’re currently working with Muni to help determine the most viable candidates for restoration, to set priorities as the need comes up. You can see which streetcars are in storage and get a general idea of their condition by reviewing our complete streetcar roster.
As year-end approaches, it’s a good time to note that we depend entirely on memberships and donations to do what we do, along with thousands of hours of volunteer time and proceeds from gift sales at our San Francisco Railway Museum. Since you’re reading this post, you probably have some interest in our efforts, so please consider helping us. Thanks very much.

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Celebrating Civic Activism – With a Cable Car


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Powell cable car No. 26 reenters service in its 1947 livery, November 14, 2012. On the running board, from right to left: SFMTA Chair Tom Nolan, Vice Chair Cheryl Brinkman, Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, MSR President Rick Laubscher, MSR board member Bruce Agid. Frank Zepeda photo.

The news media that covered the return of Powell cable car No. 26 to the fleet a few days ago missed a major point. To them, it was just another spruced-up cable car (about which, more below). But Market Street Railway’s point in recommending that the car be painted in this green and cream livery was to celebrate the civic activism that saved the Powell cable cars 65 years ago this month.
MSR has been working with Muni for almost 20 years to add both color and historic authenticity to the Powell Street cable car fleet by painting cars in different liveries they wore in past times. (Go here and scroll to the bottom of the page. You can see the story of each livery by clicking on a cable car.) The last major unrepresented era was the early Muni green and cream livery that was first applied after World War II and lasted into the 1960s, when it was slightly modified (as shown on Car No. 3).
In painting No. 26 into this livery, we honor the early days of civic activism in San Francisco. The power structure, led by Mayor Roger Lapham, had come together to plan the scrapping of the Powell cable lines in favor of buses in early 1947. But Friedel Klussmann, a Telegraph Hill resident active in women’s civic activities of the day (such as gardening), cried foul. She was ignored by the old boy network, but persevered and build a grassroots organization, largely of women, who beat back the proposal in that November’s election. The rest, as they say, is history.
While Friedel Klussmann already has a cable car dedicated to her (Powell No. 1, constructed in 1973 for the centennial of the invention of the cable car and now under renovation), No. 26 celebrates a broader movement — of San Franciscans who stand up and advocate for better transit in general.
The ceremony to welcome No. 26 back to the fleet also included a tribute to one of the cable car operation’s own: painter Efren Bernal, who did much of the work on No. 26. Diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer not long ago, he couldn’t be there personally, but his family came to represent him, and heard his work lauded by SFMTA leaders including Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin. His wife noted that Efren always signed his work, and showed us his name in tiny letters inside a yellow strip on the rear platform of No. 26, in about as inconspicuous a place as possible. That matched the Efren Bernal we got to know during the renovation of the car: modest, yet wanting to know everything he could about the original paint scheme, so he could get it right.
And so, this cable car honors Efren Bernal as well.

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Getting Ready for Centennial Celebrations

Muni teams have been working overtime to get vintage vehicles ready for special Sunday service tomorrow (November 4) and November 11.

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MSR member (and Muni operator) Tony Marquardt sent us the snaps in this post, representing the testing going on. Late Saturday morning (November 3), 1906 O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car No. 42, went out for line testing under the expert handling of gripman Val Lupiz. The shot above shows it turning onto California Street from Hyde (it’s ancestral stomping grounds until that line was ignominiously shuttered in 1954. The Sunday service, starting about 10 a.m. on the California Street cable line and running until about 4 p.m., will be the first opportunity the general public has had to ride this glorious cable car, which was restored by Market Street Railway volunteers and Muni craftsworkers to serve as a ceremonial car.

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Yesterday (Friday), Muni moved 1941 trolley coach No. 506 from its long-term storage location inside the old Geary carhouse to a service bay downstairs at Presidio Division. It’s not operational at this time (though Muni does not plan to make it so in the coming months) but it will be on static display on November 4 and 11 at the south end of Justin Herman Plaza, across from our San Francisco Railway Museum, where we’ll have special things going on (see below).

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Two other trolley coaches will be operational though, carrying people on a planned downtown loop from the stop adjacent to the museum on Steuart Street between Market and Mission via Market, Sutter, Mason to Market; returning by Market, Main, and Mission to Steuart. We’re told some trips might be a bit longer. The operating trolley coaches will be 1950 Marmon-Herrington No. 776 (above, being tested on the 31-line Thursday night) and 1976 Flyer No. 5300 (below, at the 6-line terminal in 2006).

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There probably won’t be any vintage motor coaches carrying passengers tomorrow, but at least one will be on display: 1969 GMC “Fishbowl” motor coach No. 3287. It may possibly be joined by Muni’s oldest motor coach, 1938 White No. 042 (restored to its original number from 062 and painted back in its as-delivered orange and black livery). Muni crews have been working on these buses right up to the last minute, and they might possibly carry passengers on November 11.

As far as vintage streetcars, Nos. 1, 162, 1006, 1008, and 1040 will all run out the J-line, Muni’s oldest surviving streetcar line. The first four, all double-ended, will operate to the original J-line terminal at 30th Street, while single-ended No. 1040 will continue on the J-line extension, opened in the 1990s, to Balboa Park and loop through Cameron Beach Yard. Riders may board the streetcars at any stop along the route.

We at Market Street Railway will have special Centennial merchandise on sale, including our brand new centennial mug with our own design: Car No. 1 and a Breda LRV symbolizing a century of Muni (We also have this design available in a bookmark; other items are on the way).

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We’ll also have a special sale of vintage books and selected transit artifacts that do not fit in with our mission of Preserving Historic Transit in San Francisco. Both Sundays will be great days for fans of streetcars, cable cars, buses, and San Francisco history. Please join us!

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The Day the Streetcars (Almost) Died

It was 30 years ago today, September 17, 1982, that surface streetcars on Market Street were supposed to roll into history forever. As Market Street Railway member Bob Davis reminds us, that was expected to be the final day of operation of Muni’s streamlined PCC streetcars, with full seven-day operation in the Muni Metro Subway on all five lines (J,K,L,M,N) starting the next morning, using new Boeing light rail vehicles. When PCC No. 1108 took the N-Judah beach loop on… — Read More

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First Double-End PCC in Testing

Muni PCC No. 1008 is back on the streets of San Francisco, equipped to carry passengers for the first time in a third of a century. The vintage 1948 streetcar, one of the largest PCC models ever built, has started its testing phase after arriving from Brookville Equipment Company of Pennsylvania, which completely rebuilt it. This streetcar was the very first one to run in the Muni Metro subway, using a specially fitted pantograph to test the overhead in the… — Read More

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Keep an Eye Out on I-80 for a Streetcar

It looks like the first of the four restored double-end PCC streetcars needed to start up E-line service is finally on its way to San Francisco, albeit 16 months later than the restoration contract specified. Sources tell us that PCC 1008, pictured below at the Brookville Equipment facility in Pennsylvania, is due to arrive at Muni on Friday, putting it somewhere along Interstate 80 at the moment. We’re also told that the second of the four PCCs, No. 1006, painted… — Read More

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Viva El Tranvia de Mexico!

PCC No. 1072, honoring Mexico City, on its first day of passenger service opposite the San Francisco Railway Museum, March 15, 2012. Another newly renovated PCC streamliner has started carrying passengers on the F-line, and it adds another touch of international flavor to the route. No. 1072, painted in tribute to Mexico City, made its revenue debut this morning in the rain. It is the sixth of 11 PCCs in the “1070 class” to enter service following complete rewiring and… — Read More

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“Last PCC” Back in Business!

Muni PCC No. 1040 at Van Ness Avenue March 12, 2012, on its first day back in passenger service. Matt Lee photo. The last of 5,000 streamlined PCC streetcars built in North America is carrying passengers again…on the F-line. Muni’s No. 1040, originally delivered in 1952, entered passenger service today a bit ahead of schedule. It had completed the minimum 1,000 of miles of testing after being completely rebuilt by Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania, but was waiting for a… — Read More

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When We Actually Built Our Own Transportation

An article on BART’s new cars stirred up a hornet’s nest of comments lamenting that we don’t build anything here any more — specifically transit vehicles. We’re not going to wade into that discussion (but feel free to clink the link and comment there). Coincidentally, though, that news story appeared the same day a reader in Idaho, Noel Anthony Cimino, submitted this photograph to us for publication. Here’s what he wrote: > “This is a photo of my dad, Joseph… — Read More

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Car 1040: Newest All Over Again

Restored Muni PCC No. 1040 at Muni Metro East, December 15, 2011. (Yes, it can run the outer end of the L-Taraval line, and others, too.) Click photos to enlarge. During its “first life” at Muni, PCC No. 1040 was always the kid, the youngest in the fleet. Indeed, it is historic for being the last of nearly 5,000 streetcars of this type built in the U.S., coming off the assembly line at St. Louis Car Company in 1952. Now,… — Read More

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Photo of the Moment: Tracking Testing and Training

In the gloaming on West Portal Avenue, PCCs honoring Toronto (1074) and Los Angeles (1080) are about to turn onto the L-Taraval line for testing and training, December 8, 2011. Photo copyright Jeremy Whiteman. One of our ace volunteer photographers, Jeremy Whiteman, is out and about these days west of Twin Peaks, tracking the moves of the PCCs in the 1070 class — the cars numbered between 1070 and 1080 recently returned from being rewired and having the door controls… — Read More

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Safe From the Weather At Last

Two vintage streetcars, one of them Market Street Railway’s highest restoration priority, are now safe from the elements after being moved this week to the new Cameron Beach Yard streetcar canopy. 1924 Market Street Railway Co. car No. 798, last of its kind, is backed into sheltered storage at Muni’s Cameron Beach Yard, November 1, 2011. Click on photo to enlarge. Market Street Railway Company streetcar No. 798, hand-built in 1924 by San Francisco crafts workers just across the street… — Read More

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Bus Museum Open House on Sunday

While we tend to talk most about streetcars and cable cars at Market Street Railway (because they’re operated daily by Muni), we’re interested in historic transit of all kinds, including buses. Our volunteers have done restoration work on both vintage trolley buses (including one of Muni’s first ten, built in 1941) and motor buses (including one of the gasoline buses Muni bought in 1947 for its aborted attempt to kill off the Powell Street cable cars). We have advocated with… — Read More

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“I’m Ugly Now, But Just Wait…”

The last of Muni’s precious fleet of double-end PCC streamliner streetcars is now on the road, headed for Broookville, Pennsylvania and complete rebuilding under Muni’s contract to bring 16 more fully restored PCCs to San Francisco’s streets. And boy, does this one need restoration.You could call it the ultimate test. Quick background: Of the almost 5,000 PCC streetcars manufactured in the U.S. between 1936 and 1952, only about one percent was double-ended: the operator can just switch ends and go… — Read More

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