Switch to Cameron Beach Goes Smoothly

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The historic streetcars are snug as a bug in a rug during this first rain of the season, now that they’re back at Cameron Beach Yard, their longtime (and we hope future) home during the current shutdown of the connection to the Muni Metro East storage yard.

The historic cars’ trips going in and out of service again follow the J-Church line tracks from Balboa Park to 17th and Church. Ace photographer Curley Reed captured some great shots of the old cars on the J the past few days.12188898_10207801209850910_8799061263723279591_n

With El Nino on the way (so they say), Market Street Railway wants to see the streetcar fleet protected from the drenching overnight rains. Without overhead cover, which already exists at Cameron Beach but not at Muni Metro East, when streetcars are sitting still overnight, heavy rain can work its way into the cars and cause rust and rot to begin.  Leaving the historic cars uncovered for decades before the canopy was built at Cameron Beach caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to Muni’s own most historic streetcars, such as Car 1 (now rebuilt) and Car 130 (still running, but very rusty).

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Soon, the LRVs that have been taking the historic cars place at Cameron Beach Yard during the reconstruction of Green Light Rail Division yard across the street will be able to return to Green. As soon as possible, for the long-term protection of San Francisco’s historic streetcar fleet, the vintage cars need to return to Cameron Beach Yard permanently.

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E-line Opening Now August 1

PCC Streetcar No. 1006, training on the E-line June 30, 2015, joins the light rail tracks that emerge from the Market Street Subway at Folsom Street.

PCC Streetcar No. 1006, training on the E-line June 30, 2015, joins the light rail tracks that emerge from the Market Street Subway at Folsom Street.

The opening of weekend service on the E-Embarcadero line has been rescheduled for Saturday, August 1, one week later than originally planned.

At a meeting between SFMTA and Market Street Railway representatives on Thursday, July 1, it was agreed that the San Francisco Marathon, which will clog the entire Embarcadero on Sunday, July 26, made it prudent to defer the E-line opening.

SFMTA had decided to substitute buses for streetcars on the F-line on Marathon day already, due to the difficulty of keeping schedules.

“We support the new August 1 opening date,” said Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher. “The rollout will go smoother for operators, inspectors, and riders if they don’t have to deal with the extreme circumstances caused by the Marathon.”

Besides the start date, the meeting focused on creating clear signage for the cars and stops to explain the difference between the E-line and the F-line to unfamiliar riders.  The two lines run together from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Ferry Building, but while the F-line turns inland and heads out Market Street to Castro, the E-line will continue along The Embarcadero and King Street to AT&T Park and the Caltrain Depot.  It will share tracks with the N- and T-line light rail vehicles south of Folsom Street, and has its own low-level boarding platforms and accessibility ramps at one end of each light rail station.

Market Street Railway is looking for volunteer docents to be stationed at key stops along the E-line during its 10 a.m.-7 p.m. operating hours during the first several weekends, starting August 1-2.  Shifts will run about two hours. You’ll help guide riders to the correct location, hand out brochures explaining the E-line, and answer questions. You can sign up by emailing volunteer@streetcar.org.

Seven-day service on the E-line is still slated for early 2016.

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Training for E-line Under Way

Vintage 1948 double-end PCC streetcars Nos. 1006 (left) and 1011 pass just south of the Ferry Building during E-line training, July 1, 2015

Vintage 1948 double-end PCC streetcars Nos. 1006 (left) and 1011 pass just south of the Ferry Building during E-line training, July 1, 2015

Think of it as a dress rehearsal: double-ended historic streetcars cruising the length of The Embarcadero, running along both the F-line tracks (from the Wharf to the Ferry Building) and the N- and T-line tracks (from Folsom Street past AT&T Park and on to the Caltrain Depot at Fourth and King Streets.

With only an operator and Muni training staff on board.

These streetcars are getting ready for the formal launch of the long-awaited E-Embarcadero vintage streetcar line, which begins weekend operation on Saturday, July 25 August 1, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.  Seven-day operation will follow early in 2016.

PCC No. 1006 makes a practice stop at the low-level E-line platform at Harrison Street northbound, July 1, 2015

PCC No. 1006 makes a practice stop at the low-level E-line platform at Harrison Street northbound, July 1, 2015

So if you see these historic streetcars with the “Training Car” or “Not In Service” signs along The Embarcadero, now you know why.

Give them a friendly wave!

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E-Line Startup Looks Set for July 25

E-line car No. 1008 in 2013 Demonstration Service at its Caltrain Depot terminal.

E-line car No. 1008 in 2013 Demonstration Service at its Caltrain Depot terminal.

As readers of our member newsletter, Inside Track, learned last month, Muni’s second historic streetcar line, the long-awaited E-Embarcadero, now looks set to start up for initial weekend-only service on July 25.  Officials of SFMTA, Muni’s parent, were comfortable sharing that date with local blog Hoodline.

UPDATE: E-line startup moved to August 1.

The E-line, providing single-seat service the length of The Embarcadero, from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Giants ballpark and the Caltrain Depot, has been a goal of Market Street Railway and other advocates for more than 20 years.  It will share F-line boarding platforms between the Wharf and Ferry Building, and use separate low-level platforms and ADA ramps (built ten years ago) at the four N- and T-line stops from Folsom to Caltrain. All stops will be fully accessible.

The weekend-only service will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with E-line cars running every 20 minutes. It will acquaint operators with the route and optimize the sharing of the trackage with the other lines that use it, while providing time to train the additional operators needed for full-time service.  Full seven-day service is expected to begin in early 2016.

The E-line has operated in special demonstration service on numerous weekends over the past decade, most intensively during the America’s Cup races in 2013. Because there is no loop track at the south end to turn single-end streetcars around, the E will be restricted to double-end vintage streetcars only.  Muni has seven double-end PCC streamliners (Nos. 1006-1011 and 1015) as well as several older vintage cars that are expected to see service, including 1912 Muni Car No. 1, 1914 Muni Car No. 130, 1928 Melbourne tram No. 496, and 1923 New Orleans “Desire” streetcar No. 952.  (The popular Blackpool boat trams function as single-end streetcars after modifications to make them ADA-compliant, and so will not be seen on the E-line, though we are hopeful of having them operate some trips on the F-line this summer.)

Market Street Railway has pledged to assist SFMTA with signage and docents at key stops to acquaint riders with the new weekend E-line service. We welcome volunteers, so if you’re interested in helping us get the word out about this exciting new service, just email us at volunteer@streetcar.org to let us know and give us your contact information.

Market Street Railway’s non-stop advocacy played a big role in making the E-line a reality. We depend on memberships and donations to carry out our mission of Preserving Historic Transit in San Francisco.  Please consider supporting us.  Thanks.

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The Day the Streetcars (Almost) Died

It was 30 years ago today, September 17, 1982, that surface streetcars on Market Street were supposed to roll into history forever. As Market Street Railway member Bob Davis reminds us, that was expected to be the final day of operation of Muni’s streamlined PCC streetcars, with full seven-day operation in the Muni Metro Subway on all five lines (J,K,L,M,N) starting the next morning, using new Boeing light rail vehicles. When PCC No. 1108 took the N-Judah beach loop on… — Read More

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Inside Muni’s Streetcar Restoration Vendor

Muni’s current vendor for streetcar restoration, Brookville Equipment Corporation of Pennsylvania, has produced a promotional video about its services. It’s got several shots of newly restored PCC No. 1006 (or is it 1008? – they’re identical and not numbered in the shots) on the shop floor (starting at 0:47 on the video), along with a peek at their mate No. 1009, partially painted in its Dallas & Terminal Railway livery (at 1:38). Much of the footage covers the mining equipment… — Read More

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Keep an Eye Out on I-80 for a Streetcar

It looks like the first of the four restored double-end PCC streetcars needed to start up E-line service is finally on its way to San Francisco, albeit 16 months later than the restoration contract specified. Sources tell us that PCC 1008, pictured below at the Brookville Equipment facility in Pennsylvania, is due to arrive at Muni on Friday, putting it somewhere along Interstate 80 at the moment. We’re also told that the second of the four PCCs, No. 1006, painted… — Read More

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