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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E-Line Finally Budgeted…For 2016!


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It’s going to take even longer before you see this sight every day. E-line service won’t be full-time until 2016.

As the old saying goes, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news is the SFMTA Board of Directors has approved funding to start regular E-line service.
The bad news is that full-time E-line service isn’t funded until the spring of 2016, with weekend service (11 a.m.-7 p.m.) okayed to start in the summer of 2015. The schedule was contained in the Transit Effectiveness Program adopted by the SFMTA Board last Friday.
Market Street Railway and numerous community and business groups along the E-line route have been advocating that SFMTA budget E-line operating funds earlier in the next two-year budget cycle, which begins July 1, 2014. We pressed our case with SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, who acknowledged the importance of the line, but stated that other priorities, such as increased bus service in the Mission Street corridor, ranked even higher. Reiskin also indicated that a shortage of training staff and rail operators would have precluded start-up of E-line service this summer in any event.
This was presented to us as a fait accompli, with no consultation, discussion, or community outreach, a far cry from the process SFMTA followed with changes to existing lines. When outreach was conducted on existing routes, several proposals were changed by SFMTA staff in response to community concerns.
Reiskin and service planning director Julie Kirschbaum pointed out that there is going to be increased vintage streetcar service within a month or two: new schedules for the F-line reduce headways from six minutes between streetcars to five minutes at some times of the day. This may help alleviate some of the crowding on the line.
While appreciative that some funding has finally come through for E-line operation, Market Street Railway believes that weekend-only service is not a good idea (except for a brief period to gain operational experience for Muni staff working and managing the line). The need for the E-line service is there seven days a week, not two. Irregular operation will likely prove confusing to prospective passengers and lead to disappointment and disillusionment. For this reason, we will continue to advocate for accelerated startup of the E-line.
We will also advocate for the earliest possible extension of the E-line south through Mission Bay to Dogpatch. Looping the cars through Muni Metro East, using a convenient track at the western edge of the yard (adjacent to Illinois Street between 25th Street and Cesar Chavez Street) would allow all vintage streetcars to serve the E-line, providing Muni with great operating flexibility.
The Phase One plan, terminating at the existing stub end tracks in the King Street median next to Caltrain, restricts the E-line to double-ended streetcars, which comprise only about 20 percent of the active vintage fleet. (And for those who wonder, the Breda LRVs are not an option. Muni often doesn’t have enough for its regular LRV lines and there is not enough electrical capacity on north of the Ferry Building to accommodate more than a handful of LRVs anyway.)
We are urging SFMTA to make the minor platform modifications along Third Street to allow E-line vintage streetcars to pick up and drop off passengers through Mission Bay and Dogpatch. These could be in place by the adopted Spring 2016 start-up for the E-line. We hope our advocacy, combined with that of neighborhood and business groups in that area, pays off.

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Our E-line Vision Gaining Attention

In the wake of several successful weekends of vintage streetcar service the length of The Embarcadero on the E-line, the Curbed website posted a story on our vision for an extended E-line service today. That, in turn, spawned a post on SFist.
Curbed drew on the document we’ve been distributing around town, which you can download here.

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Recently restored E-line PCC streetcar No. 1008 switches off the F-line tracks onto the connector track that will take it the rest of the way on The Embarcadero during America’s Cup service August 25, 2013. The special E-line connector track has been in place almost a decade, waiting for the full-time startup of the line. Refurbishment of this car and others allows for full time E-line service to begin as soon as Muni funds it. Brian Leadingham photo.

The downloadable document goes into detail about the many benefits we believe an extended E-line will bring to the city, especially that of augmenting transit service for the city’s fast growing Eastern Neighborhoods, while alleviating some of the overcrowding on the Embarcadero section of the F-line. (See the note below about our revised proposal for an extension all the way through Dogpatch.)
Market Street Railway envisions continuous vintage streetcar service from Fort Mason past Ghirardelli Square and Aquatic Park, then sharing existing F-line tracks through Fisherman’s Wharf and along The Embarcadero to the Ferry Building. The E-line then uses its own tracks, already in place, for three blocks until it joins the N- and T-line tracks at Folsom. Stops along this portion of The Embarcadero have already been constructed for the vintage streetcars and used successfully during the America’s Cup Service.
Then, after passing the Giants’ ballpark, the E-line would follow the current T-line tracks to serve all of Mission Bay and Dogpatch before terminating at Muni’s existing light rail facility at Illinois and Cesar Chavez Streets, just north of Islais Creek. (Note: the downloadable document shows our proposed E-line southern terminal near Pier 70, but since it was published, Dogpatch neighborhood and business leaders have urged us to advocate a longer extension to serve their entire community. We’re joining them in supporting this longer extension, noting that no additional track is needed for the E-line to reach the Cesar Chavez terminal, as it would loop along the western edge of the existing light rail yard.)
The best part about the longer E-line extension through Mission Bay and Dogpatch is that by taking advantage of an existing track turnaround loop, any of the almost 50 vintage streetcars in the operating fleet today could carry passengers on the E-line. Right now, the southern terminal Muni’s using for America’s Cup E-line service, on King Street next to the Caltrain depot, can only be served by streetcars than can operate from either end, like the one pictured above. Double ended vintage streetcars comprise only about 20% of the fleet. There are enough vintage streetcars available for both the E- and F-lines right now, if single-end streetcars could be used on the E.
In an era when projects costing hundreds of millions, even billions for relatively short distances are being built or bandied about, we think a Muni line using its most popular vehicles to serve San Francisco’s fastest growing residential area (Mission Bay/Dogpatch) where all the needed track is already in place is a pretty good idea. Download our vision paper, read through the details, and see what you think.

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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 and locomotives they build or renovate, so for railfans with wideranging interests, you might want to watch the whole thing.
Thanks to Jeff Marinoff for flagging this one,

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Streetcar Found at Lost Hills!

PCC No. 1008 on Interstate 5 at Lost Hills, CA, en route to San Francisco, July 20, 2012. Paul Lucas photo. Well, we guessed wrong on the route the first restored double-end PCC would follow to get back to Muni from Pennsylvania. Our volunteer charter coordinator, Paul Lucas, was surpri…wait, we’ll let him tell it (from our Facebook Group). > “I’m driving down to LA on I-5 and pull off to grab some food. While walking back to my car,… — 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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