Muni’s PCC streetcars are painted in tribute to most of the 30+ North American cities that once operated them. Streetcars had disappeared long ago from all but seven of those PCC cities: Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, Newark, Pittsburgh, Shaker Heights, Ohio, and San Francisco itself. Now, though, there is a real renaissance of streetcar operation among former PCC cities. Enterprising preservationists in Dallas started the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority in 1983 and El Paso is now restoring PCCs for a downtown line. And there’s a spate of former PCC cities turning to modern streetcars to revitalize neighborhoods. MSR President Rick Laubscher was just in Cincinnati, where their new line is testing in advance of a planned September opening. (Note they kept a shade of yellow, as used on their PCCs, and they started numbering them from where their PCCs stopped.)
This renaissance of streetcars in PCC cities is a great story, and we’ll have it, with great details, exclusively for our Members in the next Inside Track, our quarterly member letter, due out in September. Join Market Street Railway now, and you’ll get our just-released newsletter with a colorful story on the vintage Powell Street cable car liveries, which we helped Muni bring back onto the line…and a story on a transformative time for transit in San Francisco 75 years ago, in 1941. If you’re intrigued by historic transit, you really need to join Market Street Railway.
Did we mention that Muni’s Cincinnati tribute PCC, the 1057, known locally as “the bumblebee” for its stripes and yellow body, is one of the most photographed cars in the fleet? Join now!
Just wondering whether the PCC renaissance can continue indefinitely? From what I’ve heard from SEPTA, they are looking into replacing their entire fleet, both Kawasakis and PCCs with a yet to be defined modern type. Boston may also move to retire the PCCS from the Mattapan line. Obviously this is still in the future and we’re talking about a lead time of several years. But what then? Although this might be an opportunity (maybe even the last ever opportunity) for other heritage operations (including San Francisco) to pick up decent numbers of serviceable cars on the cheap, it would represent an overall shrinking of the base fleet with only San Francisco having any large numbers of operational cars left after that. What effect would this have on availability of parts or the preparedness of third parties to maunfacture or offer such parts?