The other day, we showed you derelict PCC No. 1009, off for a total rebuilding as part of Muni’s contract with Brookville Equipment. Five PCCs, all original Muni vehicles, are getting that complete restoration. Another 11 PCCs that have been partly restored are part of the contract as well, getting completely rewired.
In the past couple of weeks, two of those 11 cars changed places. Their paint schemes look different, but both represent a controversial company. Starting shortly before World War II, a company named National City Lines (NCL) started buying up privately owned streetcar systems around the country and converted them to buses. NCL was financed by giant companies that made buses, tires, and fuel. They were convicted of conspiracy charges in Federal court but got off with a slap on the wrist.
(It must be said that most streetcar infrastructure, including cars, track, and power systems, was completely shot at that time, and rising costs had deprived private system owners of the capital to rebuild, but that’s a separate story for another time.)
PCC No. 1080, back in San Francisco from the Pennsylvania contractor with new wiring, is painted in tribute to Los Angeles Transit Lines, renamed from Los Angeles Railway when NCL bought it in 1945. Unlike most of its other properties, though, NCL actually bought *new* streetcars in Los Angeles, identical to this body style, for its very busy Pico line in 1948.
This yellow green and white scheme was NCL’s standard. It was also applied to the operation they renamed El Paso City Lines, with streetcars that actually crossed the border into Juarez, Mexico. In the 1950s, though, these cars were repainted into a pea green and red scheme which is seen on Muni PCC No. 1073. This car recently left for Brookville for its rewiring. This leaves only three of the 1070-class streetcars operating in San Francisco, Nos. 1075, 1076, and 1077.
No. 1080 will soon enter testing, joining No. 1071 as the first rewired cars to return to San Francisco from Brookville. Muni is looking closely at the new door mechanisms in particular to ensure that the cars will hold up to heavy F-line service before accepting them from the contractor. No date is yet set for either 1071 or 1080 to enter passenger service.
National City Lines may not be a happy part of U.S. streetcar history, but it’s a significant part, and by next year we should see both examples of it on the streets of San Francisco.