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


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.


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.


Comments: 2

  1. This White bus really brings back memories. I grew up in the northern New Jersey suburbs of New York City and the Rockland Coach Company operated these white buses until the GMC “New Look” buses (aka Fishbowls) were introduced in the late 50s. These buses ran from Rockland County (NY) through Bergen County (NJ) and across the George Washington Bridge to a ground level terminal at 168th STreet and Broadway. The Whites have a very distinctive engine sound that reminded me of blocks of wood clonking otgether — I don’t know hwo else to explain their unique sound.
    Paul, NYC

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