Shoppers’ Shuttle

In the early 1950s, as tens of thousands of San Francisco families decamped for the new surrounding suburbs, merchants grew more and more anxious about getting customers into their stores. Muni’s response: a “Shoppers’ Shuttle” — actually two of them, one serving Market Street/Union Square and one the “Miracle Mile of Mission” between about 16th Street and Army Street (now Cesar Chavez Street).

When they started up in 1953 and 1954, the shuttles only charged a nickel (as opposed to the then-regular fare of 15 cents). The presumption, apparently, was that shoppers would be happy to save a dime on routes that duplicated numerous regular Muni lines on Market and Mission.

They ran weekdays midday only, which should have kept incremental operating costs to a minimum, since a few drivers could easily be diverted from regular lines to the shuttles between rush hours. Routes varied over the years. A third line was added in 1966 that generally went from Civic Center to the Second and Harrison Streets area (but what was there, then?).

In this shot from the SFMTA Archives, we see 1938 White motor coach 060 decked out for the “Mission Shuttle” with 5 cent flags and signs alerting intending riders to the bargain. It looks like it was taken around the rollout of Mission Shuttle service in November 1954 at Muni’s Ocean Division (where the Green light rail facility is now at Ocean and San Jose Avenues).

The shuttles did not generally do a booming business, despite the low fare. It was never clear how many non-shopper riders just hopped aboard because it was the first bus that came along while they were waiting, or who just like saving a dime (no Fast Pass or Clipper Card then!).

According to the definitive book on Muni operations, Inside Muni, all three of the Shoppers’ Shuttle routes were abandoned September 10, 1980. But this may have been just a technical route abandonment. The author of this post doesn’t recall seeing any Shoppers’ Shuttle buses after BART construction on Market and Mission began in the late 1960s. Perhaps readers can comment on their recollections of when the service ended.

This bus, however, would have only made a special guest appearance on the Shoppers’ Shuttle, in all likelihood. Because of its diminutive size (seven feet shorter than a standard White bus), it was regularly assigned to serve Telegraph Hill and North Beach riders on the 39-Coit line (because it could make the tight turn at the Coit Tower parking lot.) It lasted there until about 1974for another 20 years before being retired. It was subsequently purchased by a Muni employee and painted back into its original 1938 orange and black livery.

Its twin, 062, also a Coit Tower bus, has been restored by Muni to operating condition and is also painted in its as-delivered orange and black (no, it’s not for the Giants, nor for Halloween!). Unlike the 060, the 062 has been restored to its original fleet number, 042 (when Muni culled out the fleet of the “Baby Whites”, they renumbered the three survivors 060-062.

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Terrific Heritage Weekend

This year’s Muni Heritage Weekend was the best of the five that have taken place so far. Biggest crowds, more kids and families, more vintage vehicles operating, more variety in the routes operated. Kudos to everyone involved on Muni’s side — and there were dozens, operators, mechanics, supervisors, and more, directed by Ed Cobean. Here are a few shots of the action.

The weekend started with a ceremonial run of O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car 42 over Hyde Street trackage it hadn’t felt in 62 years. The car, under the command of ace grip Val Lupiz, operated like a charm. The old Hyde terminal was just a switch, because the cars were double ended. Val took the opportunity to put the car on the Turntable, using the switch at the terminal to change tracks first, so photographers could get the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. (No, it doesnimg_6380‘t fit on the turntable.)

 

Muni’s fabled streetcar number 1 was out and about, signed for its original route, the “A-Geary.” This weekend, it operated along Market to Castro on Saturday on the F-line and to Pier 39 on The Embarcadero on Sunday.

img_64142016 marks the 75th anniversary of Muni’s operation of trolley buses, the “Green Machines” that continued zero-emission operation of more than 20 Muni routes when they were converted from streetcars. To celebrate, one of Muni’s first 9 trolley coaches, the 506, from 1941, carried a great photographic display documenting trolley coach history at Muni. It doesn’t operate (though we hope it will again someday), but was a great centerpiece. But second generation Muni trolley coach 776, shown behind the 506, operated the pioneering R-Howard-South Van Ness line to 26th Street and back.

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From inside the 776 on Market, we see 1929 Melbourne 496 rolling by. It worked the F-line to Castro both days. (The trolley buses, including 1975 Flyer 5300, reached Howard by turning left off Market at Fourth, since the original wire on that part of Howard is gone.img_6475

A surprise participant was Muni’s oldest bus, the 042, built in 1938 by the White Motor Company. Its engine had given up the ghost, but the top-notch mechanics at Woods Motor Coach Division swapped it out for one in a White bus Market Street Railway’s Paul Wells located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and repatriated. The 042 operated like a dream looping around Union Square all weekend, as did 1970 GMC “fishbowl” 3287, shown behind it.

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The most popular vehicles, as always were 1896 “dinky” 578, Muni’s oldest streetcar, and one of Muni’s two Blackpool, England, “boat trams” from 1934. They were especially welcomed during a very hot weekend as they cruised The Embarcadero between Pier 39 and our museum. Here’s the 578 with its restored route lettering (courtesy Market Street Railway) taking a break on Mission.

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Your correspondent was under the weather this weekend and didn’t get very many good shots. So we’re asking your help. Please share your best photographs with us for possible use in the next issue of our newsletter Inside Track, or in our 2018 calendar now being prepared. You can share your photos here.  Thanks.

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