Muni Heritage Weekend drew thousands of San Franciscans and visitors to the Ferry Building area November 1-2, both for the rare opportunity to ride a mix of vintage streetcars, cable cars, and buses, and for a variety of other family-friendly attractions. The event was co-sponsored by Muni’s parent, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), and Market Street Railway.
The oldest vehicle operating for the weekend, 1896 streetcar No. 578, drew the most attention as it took happy passengers on 20-minute excursions from our San Francisco Railway Museum to Pier 39 and back.Sunday brought a surprise appearance by Muni’s “newest” historic streetcar, 1934 Blackpool, England boat tram No. 233, acquired for SFMTA by Market Street Railway last year. It made its debut at the 2013 Muni Heritage Weekend in its unrestored state and came back this year all but finished, looking gorgeous and drawing shutterbugs when it briefly posed next to its twin, No. 228 (acquired by Market Street Railway leaders for Muni back in the 1980s), which offered rides all weekend. (No. 233 is expected to enter service in the Spring; we’ll have a story on its restoration in the next issue of our Member newsletter, Inside Track.)There were hundreds of photographers out and about to capture the traction action, many of them our Members. At our Member reception Saturday night, we met dozens of Members who had traveled long distances just for this event, coming from as far away as Poland, Sweden, England, and Canada, as well as from New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada.The south end of Justin Herman Plaza, just across the F-line tracks from our museum, was a center of action as both SFMTA and Muni set up tents to display aspects of San Francisco’s transit history — and future — to attendees. Champion Cable Car bell ringers performed on Muni’s motorized cable car No. 62, and the late Maya Angelou, who was San Francisco’s first African-American female streetcar conductor before she gained world fame, was honored for her pioneering role in transit employment equality with readings by St. Ignatius College Prep Senior Johnnae D. Saunders (pictured above, center, during her Sunday performance).SFMTA’s exhibits included an invitation to visitors to express their views on the exterior appearance and interior passenger features of the forthcoming Siemens LRV fleet. (At the time of this post, you can still take that survey here.)No question, though, the stars of the show were the vintage buses, streetcars, and cable cars available to ride, including 1950 Marmon-Herrington trolley coach No. 776.The most popular bus of the weekend was Muni’s oldest, 1938 White motor coach No. 042, which families found particularly interesting.Some of the Muni team members who restored No. 042 so beautifully pose with the bus. Left to right, Tim Trickel, Woods Division Maintenance Superintendent Louis Guzzo, Anthony Gelardi, and Albert Mai.1969 GMC motor coach No. 3287, restored to its original “cable car” livery, made a trip signed for the old 32-Embarcadero line, which was replaced by a mix of the F-line historic streetcars and the Muni Metro Extension by 2000. (Next year, operation will begin on the “E-Embarcadero” historic streetcar line, which will almost perfectly follow the 32-line’s old route.Just a few of the combined team members from SFMTA and Market Street Railway who made Muni Heritage Weekend possible, under the leadership of SFMTA Communications Director Candace Sue (standing center, with orange scarf). Left to right, Mia Stragalis, Erin Halasz, Tam Tran, Candace Sue, MSR Education Committee Chair Alison Cant, Gary Fiset, Bob Strachan, and Nile Ledbetter.
Thanks to all the volunteers who contributed their time to make the weekend so special. And deep thanks to the sponsors who helped underwrite SFMTA’s costs for exhibits, including Pier 39, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, the Exploratorium, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers.