Sunday Sightings

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Quite a lot to see downtown on Memorial Day Sunday. For starters, many of the F-line streetcars were flying new flags for the holiday. These come through the hard work of Joe Hickey, one of our members, who puts them up on the cars. For a number of years, purchase of the flags has come thanks to cash donations from member Dennis Frazier and in-kind donations by member Jim Giraudo. Thanks, guys!
Besides American flags on each car, we try to put the right state or city flag on each PCC (as shown on L.A. Railway car No. 1052 here. Not all the cars have flag holders; that’s another thing we’re working on for Muni’s centennial next year, when we hope to have special flags for all the cars. (If you’d like to donate for that, please feel free.)

Lots of folks downtown for the holiday weekend; great to see the stores crowded, not to mention the streets, sidewalks…and F-line boarding islands. Time to plug our advocacy efforts on Market Street. Specifically, at this boarding island at Fourth and Market, we’d like to see a wider (or relocated) island that can better handle the hordes that try to board the streetcar here, with a ticket machine and proper signage to cut down on the number of people queued up to try to feed their dollar bills into the farebox. The operator of this car was doing a great job of coaching, coming out of his seat to help riders get on board, but when his follower (PCC No. 1062) caught up to him, he finally closed the doors and took off (again, the right thing to do). He was at that one stop more than five minutes and if No. 1062 hadn’t arrived, it would’ve been ten. This is not an uncommon problem, and it’s solvable.

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A couple of blocks away on Powell, another mess. Muni’s parent agency, SFMTA, is diverting all traffic except buses and taxis off lower Stockton Street now so that Central Subway construction can begin. Great, except that much of that diverted traffic then turns onto Powell southbound, just looking for a way to get across Market.
Powell Street was completely jammed with automobiles from Sutter south to Ellis, where autos are forced to turn. They, in turn, were blocking that intersection, holding up cable cars departing the terminal. And cable cars coming south routinely took ten minutes or longer to go the four blocks between Sutter and the terminal. A few no left turn signs onto Powell and signage diverting autos to underused streets, like Mason or Jones, would get both the automobile users and the cable cars to their destinations faster and make one of what we call our “ambassador streets”, lower Powell, much more attractive for pedestrians, many of whom are here to spend their money (including sales taxes).