Muni Promotes F-line at SFO

Milan SFO banner.jpg

When you’re asked to promote part of your transit service to visitors
arriving at SFO, what do you choose?  The “halfway to the stars” icons?
How about the F-line streetcars? There are several banners up at SFO with photos of Milan tram No. 1893 or San Diego PCC No. 1078, with the theme “Milan [or San Diego] on the outside; San Francisco from the inside.” The tag line: “When you’re in San Francisco, Muni gets you everywhere you want to go.”

It’s yet another example of how Muni uses the F-line to put its best public foot forward in a variety of situations. When you go to SFMTA Headquarters at 1 South Van Ness Avenue, you’ll see a disproportionate percentage of F-line images on the walls. If it’s presentations about SFMTA, reports, other documents, same thing.

And why not? The F is one of Muni’s most popular lines, because it’s fun to ride. And the great variety of liveries on the streetcars brings an extra dollop of color to Market Street and The Embarcadero.

In fact, the F-line streetcars are almost a flashback to the days of the 1906 Market Street film profiled last week on 60 Minutes. You can’t tell in the black and white film, but the cable cars on Market in those days were color coded, with a different bright color for each line (red for Haight, yellow for Valencia, white for Castro, etc.), providing a kaleidoscope of transit color then just as the F-line streetcars do today . (This kind of detail is included in our exclusive narrated version of the 1906 film, available here and at our San Francisco Railway Museum.)

If anyone has spotted different promotional banners like this in the other SFO terminals — or elsewhere — let us know with a comment.


Comments: 3

  1. The last sound you heard in that 60 minutes report was the distinctive gong, and bell-like rattling of track brakes on a PCC.
    At SFO’s international terminal, every pillar between the security check point and the last of the airline desks seemed to represent a different “F” line vehicle. I didn’t see any of the Iron Monsters, however.
    Moreover, the “F” line cars are showing up elsewhere, in all sorts of advertising, and even on building murals. It seems that the famously iconic cable cars have come to represent touristy San Francisco, while the “F” holds the distinction of being “cool local”.

  2. It makes me sad the the face of MUNI is decades-old technology that Milan scrapped in favor of modern cars that are easier to board (especially for wheelchairs and strollers), quieter, and more comfortable. I agree we’re making the best of decades-long chronic underfunding of infrastructure in the U.S. and that these cars are better than nothing. But remember that it’s not only tourists that ride these — I’ve packed into them regularly when the subway is down and they’re the only way to get down Market Street. I look forward to the day when they’re just one transit option among many.

  3. Some of the world’s classiest cities promote themselves regularly with trams and streetcars: think Melbourne, Hong Kong, and of course San Francisco. Think Strasbourg, Lisbon, and Swiss examples too numerous to mention. (Zurich is particularly proud of its absence of subways and plentiful blue trams). Every medium-sized city in France can’t wait to tell you about its brand-new trolley line(s).
    What do these cities have in common? Liveability. They’re a pleasure to visit, and for the most part a pleasure to live in. Their centers have “heart” and character.
    We’re lucky to live in or near cities like these!

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