As we’ve seen in this series to date, there are many liveries (historic paint schemes) that could grace the three double-ended streetcars Muni is restoring for which final paint decisions haven’t yet been made. We’ve looked at possible liveries from cities that once ran double-end streamliner PCC streetcars, known at Muni as “torpedoes:” Dallas, Boston, the LA area, and San Francisco itself.
Pittsburgh’s “Mod Desire” livery, the word at the center of the cars is “trolley”
Now, we’re asking whether something completely different should be considered. Muni has painted all its streamliner PCCs so far to honor cities that once ran this most successful streetcar design. (They once ran in 30 cities in North America alone.) But there is also something of a tradition in the transit industry of painting a few cars in a fleet to be just plain attention-getters.
In the US, Pittsburgh did this, most famously with this car, which it dubbed “Mod Desire.” Painted in the 1970s, it sports a psychedelic rendition of the word “trolley” around the rear doors. It was part of an attempt to freshen up the PCC fleet with a variety of paint schemes (though none as wild as this one, which even drew attention from the New York Times.)
Another example: Melbourne, Australia, which commissioned artists to use a few of their W-class trams as canvasses in the 1970s. There was special interest in aboriginal and pop motifs in Melbourne, but the concept is a broad one, and could be extended to embrace a streetcar painted in a design created by a schoolkid, perhaps as a contest of some sort.
Alternatively, design professionals could be solicited for their visions of an “art streetcar,” on either a commission or contest basis.
If Black Rock City had a transit system we imagine it might look something like the Aboriginal design of this Melbourne tram.
Yet another approach would be to designate a streetcar to be painted in honor of Muni’s centennial in 2012 (the torpedoes should be back in San Francisco, fully restored, in 2011. This might include images or artistic impressions of key moments in San Francisco transit history. (Of course, this option might appear dated within a few years, but the car could be repainted into a conventional livery like Muni Wings then.
So those are some of the “completely different” concepts that would go beyond the “tribute liveries” that Muni has applied to its F-line PCC fleet to date. If you had the chance to do something completely different with a streetcar paint scheme, what would it be?
Because we’re talking “completely different,” please don’t use this comment space to rehash opinions about the alternatives discussed in parts 1-4 of this series. If you haven’t already shared your thoughts on those other alternatives, feel free to do so in the comment sections of those posts, rather than here.
We especially welcome comments from those we haven’t heard from yet.