Historic Buses in Spotlight November 1-2

P1050858Muni’s historic buses are featured in a great column by the Chronicle’s Carl Nolte.

We went out to Woods Division the other day with Carl and toured the historic bus fleet, including the three coaches pictured above, all scheduled to run for Muni Heritage Weekend, November 1-2, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  (Left to right, 1938 White Motor Coach No. 042; 1975 AM General No 4154; and 1969 GMC “New Look” No. 3287, being prepared by cleaning crews to go to work.)

The AM General coach, pictured in the middle, may seem too modern-looking to be “historic,” but it will turn 40 next year and is important in at least two respects.

First, it represents one of the first instances that Muni management allowed public concerns to influence its vehicle selection. The GMC buses, known internally as “Jimmys,” were noisy and too long for some neighborhood streets. Citizen complaints led to the smaller, quieter “Amys,” as the AM Generals were known by the shops. (Today, Muni’s parent, SFMTA, runs extensive community consultation programs, including one currently underway to advise management on appearance and passenger comfort details of the new Siemens LRV fleet.)

Second, the Amys were the first Muni fleet to be delivered in the livery designed by famed San Francisco industrial designer Walter Landor, featuring the now-familiar Muni “worm” logo and colors including “Sunset Glow” and “California Poppy Gold.”

Because of their smaller size and their parentage, American Motors, the 4100-class was also called “Gremlins,” after the unusual compact car the firm then made.) No. 4154 will be making its operating debut at Muni Heritage Weekend, sharing the same special route as the other historic motor coaches and trolley coaches (including 1950 Marmon-Herrington No. 776 and 1976 Flyer No. 5300): from outside our San Francisco Railway Museum on Steuart between Market and Mission, via Market, Sutter, Mason, Market, Spear, Mission, and Steuart).

Along with the historic buses, special streetcars and cable cars will operate on Muni Heritage weekend as well, and there’ll be a number of events in the plaza across from the museum: music from a Muni combo; young actress Johnnae Saunders as Maya Angelou, 16-year old San Francisco streetcar conductor; cable car bell ringing exhibitions; chances for kids to color their own historic streetcar and ring that actual cable car bell; special transportation book and memorabilia sales, and much more.

It’s going to be the best historic transit weekend yet. You don’t want to miss it.