Another Rebuilt PCC Enters Service

The seventh PCC streetcar from the original 1995 F-line fleet reentered passenger service on this drizzly January 10, 2018, after successfully completing 1,000 miles of testing, It was then formally accepted by Muni from the restoration vendor, Brookville Equipment Company of Pennsylvania.

Car 1055, like the other 12 single-end PCCs in the contract, came to Muni from Philadelphia, where it operated for almost a half-century. While the other PCCs in that group are painted in tribute to some of the other 32 North American cities that once ran PCCs, 1055 wears its own “as-delivered” 1948 green livery with cream and red trim. It’s even adorned with an authentic decal near the front door, instructing boarding passengers to “Please move to rear to speed your ride”, donated courtesy of Harry Donohue of the Friends of the Philadelphia Trolleys and applied by the Muni shops before the car entered service. Thanks to Ken Kwong of our Facebook group for the photo.

Meanwhile, the ninth car in the contract, 1050, arrived safely at Muni Metro East following the long journey from Brookville and will soon enter testing. It now wears the red and cream livery of St. Louis Public Service Company, one of the largest operators of PCCs back in the day. Allen Chan posted the photo below of 1050 arriving at MME on January 7.

Sandwiched in between those two cars, in order of delivery, is Car 1063, painted in tribute to Baltimore Transit Company. On New Year’s day, just a couple weeks after reentering regular service, it was badly damaged in an accident on Third Street.

According to Muni statements, the driver of a box truck swerved from the right hand southbound lane on Third Street against the left turn signal directly into the path of the streetcar, which was operating below the 25 mile per hour limit on that stretch of road. We are told video footage from the streetcar itself shows all this. We do not know if the truck driver was charged by police or whether the truck is insured.

The repairs to Car 1063 will be very expensive because the right front corner of the car, where the worst damage occurred, houses much of the streetcar’s electrical control equipment. We will let you know when a final decision has been made on whether the car would be repaired in-house or sent out on a contract. If the latter, it would likely have to be a separate contract from the Brookville renovation contract that refurbished the car in the first place. Muni had accepted the car, relieving Brookville of all liability for it, and the renovation contract does not include repairs. Scoping and bidding a separate contract would likely take many months.

Currently under reconstruction at Brookville: Cars 1052, 1053, and 1061. The next car slated to go to Brookville is 1015, the first of three-double end cars to be covered under the Brookville contract. It is still at MME while discussions between Muni and Brookville continue about whether to substitute two ex-Red Arrow double-end cars (with PCC bodies) for two of the cars covered by the contract. We’ve covered this story for our Members in our quarterly magazine, Inside Track, and will have an update in our next issue. Join Market Street Railway now and don’t miss out!

 

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The Lineup

Passing by Muni Metro East as today’s afternoon faded into evening, what should appear but a lineup representing 105 years of San Francisco transit history. Right to left, 1912 Car 1, the first publicly owned streetcar in America, getting ready to go out on a charter. Next to it, 1948 PCC 1015, signed for training duty. And then one of the new 2017 Siemens LRVs, number 2006, still being tested.

Not something you can see in any other US transit agency. But Muni makes it happen!

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E-line Problem Discourages Riders

A technical problem with a switch near the southern E-line terminal has forced certain streetcars to skip the final stop at Caltrain, discouraging some riders from using the service.

As it was explained to us by Muni management, two of the seven double-end PCC streetcars assigned to the E-line have problems reversing at the Sixth and King Streets terminal because of a fault in a switch. The other five PCCs are able to bypass the problem by cutting power and coasting through the switch, but Cars 1009 (above, photo by Paul Lucas) and 1015 (below) do not coast freely enough to reliably clear the switch. It is a very odd problem, like nothing we’ve heard before. Muni management claims they are working to diagnose the problem with the switch and fix it.

In the meantime, Muni maintenance has pulled out all the stops to keep those two cars off the E-line as much as they can, but it’s not always possible. Yesterday (February 1), both 1009 and 1015 were on the line, with blank destination signs when heading southbound, and cards in the windshield stating their final destination was the ballpark stop at Second and King Streets. The cars then turn left at Fourth Street onto the T-line and reverse at the crossover on Channel Street, across the Fourth Street Bridge (below).

What this means is that riders waiting for a Wharf-bound E-line car at the Caltrain stop face a double headway when these cars are in service, since they can’t make the Caltrain stop. Given the problems Muni has had keeping regular headways on the E-line anyway, this can mean a wait of up to an hour between Wharf-bound E-line trains for riders. Muni has put up signs at the Caltrain E-line stop alerting riders to this problem and suggesting they walk (or take an N-Judah) two blocks east to the Second and King stop instead.

Market Street Railway has strongly recommended that Muni address this problem by assigning double-end vintage cars to the E-line to provide steady, reliable service to all stops. Melbourne 496, New Orleans 952 (shown below in 2008), and Muni cars No. 1 and 130, all on the active roster, have all used the Sixth and King terminal during earlier E-line demonstration service without incident.

Muni, however, has responded to our recommendation by saying that because of its continuing shortage of qualified streetcar operators — a problem that has gone on for well over a year now — it is unable to supply the second crew member (a conductor) required on those particular streetcars. (Substituting buses for streetcars on the E-line is not an option because the right-of-way south of the Ferry Building is paved in a way that is rougher than the F-line right-of-way north of the Ferry Building, making bus operation unfeasible.)

While we appreciate that Muni didn’t cancel these E-line runs altogether, this erratic service pattern on the E-line discourages the growth of ridership, especially among residents along the line looking for a reliable service. We will keep you up to date on this problem.

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Postgame Parade

162-1015 N beach copy

The Super Bowl ended this football season, but we’ll go into overtime for a minute to share a special football-related photo. We’re at the end of the N-Judah line at Ocean Beach. Based on the clues in the photo, it’s between 1955 and 1957. PCC “torpedo” No. 1015 is about to take the loop and head inbound. It’s been converted from double-end to single-end operation, hence the blocked-off doors you see.

On the stub track sit two “B type” original Muni streetcars, built in 1914 but recently “modernized” with conductor-operated doors on their rear platforms. We can’t tell the number of the car, on the right, but the one closer to us is No. 162. We know why it and its sibling are laying over from the yellow dash sign saying “Football Today – Kezar Stadium.” It’s probably a 49ers game (city high school games were played there too). Muni banked a couple of cars on the N-line terminal spur for postgame pickups. Other cars would switch back near Kezar on Carl Street to take fans home.

As mentioned last week, we’ve captured this distinctive dash sign on a tee shirt which you can buy at our San Francisco Railway Museum.  They’ll be up on our online store next week. (By the way, “shortest route” dates back to the pre-1944 days when Muni competed with our namesake, Market Street Railway Company, whose service to Kezar ran via Haight Street instead of the N-line’s faster Sunset Tunnel route.)

Kezar Tee shirt

It’s amazing that at least two of the three streetcars pictured in this 60 year old photo are preserved (heck, could be all three if that other one is No. 130). Well, maybe not so amazing…our organization and its founders successfully championed the preservation of the rare double-end PCCs Muni owned, such that seven of the ten are in service today! And we brought No. 162 back from a museum and began its restoration. (Today, we’re working with SFMTA to get the damage it suffered in an accident two years ago repaired. It is a slow process, but we won’t rest until it’s back on the street.)

Your support is what makes our work possible. Please consider donating or joining, and visit our museum for great displays, vintage film and photos, and great gifts too!

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E-Line Startup Looks Set for July 25

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… — Read More

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Photos of the Moment: A Different View

The other day, we talked about helpful Muni operators on the Boat Tram. Here’s a different angle on that, literally. The cruise ship Crystal Symphony called at Pier 35 yesterday, with relatives on board. A tour gave us the chance to snap a few shots from a vantage point San Franciscans rarely experience. That includes sweeping views of the Wharf area with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, and, in this case, two F-line streetcars, No. 1053 (Brooklyn) approaching… — Read More

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