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
So if you see these historic streetcars with the “Training Car” or “Not In Service” signs along The Embarcadero, now you know why.
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.
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 email@example.com to let us know and give us your contact information.
It seems forever ago that Muni awarded a contract to Brookville Equipment Company of Pennsylvania to renovate 16 streamliner PCC streetcars for Muni. Five of these were complete reconstructions, including four precious double-end cars (precious because only a handful of the 5,000 PCCs built in North America were double ended, and because only double-end cars will be able to serve the new E-Embarcadero line, at least at first).
The double-end cars were the last to get worked on and three of the four have been put into Muni service, although one of them, No. 1009, just got rear-ended by a private bus and will be out for repairs for awhile. (We’ve learned that Muni does intend to go after the bus company for the full cost, and that the damage, luckily, is almost exclusively cosmetic.)
PCC No. 1011, painted in the livery of our namesake, Muni’s erstwhile competitor Market Street Railway Company (which wanted, but could never afford PCCs), sits outside the Brookville Equipment Company shops in Pennsylvania. Copyright Peter Ehrlich.
However, one of the four double-enders, No. 1011, has lingered at Brookville’s facility for many months after the others were delivered. But there’s a good reason. As we’ve reported previously, the door systems put into these renovated cars haven’t worked very well. In what we consider a misguided attempt to “modernize” the cars with computer assisted door controls, Muni ended up with unreliable systems that led to excessive — and unneeded — breakdowns in service.
To their credit, Muni engineering came to recognize this and changed the specifications on No. 1011 to install more traditional PCC door motors (which were very hard to source when the contract was originally let). Getting that door system installed and working properly on No. 1011 is the reason for the delay in finishing it. But we hear it may finally make its way to San Francisco later this month.
By the way, Muni has a contractor installing the same new (but traditionally designed) door control system on PCC No. 1071 as a pilot test for the 11-car 1070 class. (No. 1076, which had a similar system installed several years ago, using used components, has worked reliably ever since.
This is good news, since correcting this deficiency will further increase the reliability of the historic PCCs.
We’ll let you know when No. 1011 is on the road.