Streetcar-cable car shutdown

Residents of six Bay Area counties have been ordered to stay in their homes, except to buy groceries or medicine or visit doctors, until at least April 7. They may take walks as long as they remain at least six feet away from people who are not members of their own household. This unprecedented action triggered ripple effects on public transit, including the shutdown of E- and F-line historic streetcars and all three cable car lines for the duration of the shelter-in-place order. 

Essential services, including police, fire, and enough transit for essential trips will continue to be provided.  The cable cars and a shortened F-line from the Wharf to the Ferry Building will be served by buses, while the E-Embarcadero line has been suspended altogether. Riders looking to go from the Wharf past the Ferry Building up Market will have to transfer to Muni Metro at Embarcadero Station or to a surface bus. 

Muni leadership said the bus substitution is being undertaken in part because the cable cars and historic streetcars have no partitions between operators and riders, unlike the light rail vehicle and most buses.  Market Street Railway agrees with the temporary substitution, as operator safety must come first.  Our San Francisco Railway Museum is also closed until the shelter-in-place order is lifted, as are all non-essential businesses in the Bay Area.

There is no point in speculating how long this shutdown will last. “At least through April 7” is the official language, but officials have made clear it could be longer if public health requires it. As you have certainly read by now, these measures are being taken to “flatten the curve” of infection – that is, keep the number of cases requiring treatment at any one time within the resource capabilities (beds, ventilators, etc.) of hospitals and clinics. This could mean that requiring people to self-isolate may go on for some time beyond April 7. We just don’t know.            

We salute the dedication of all transit operators at this time of extra challenges, including those who have been operating and will again operate Muni’s cable cars and historic streetcars. 

We will continue to report meaningful developments here. Be careful out there!

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