Buses & Streetcars: New Exhibit at SF Railway Museum

View Northeast on Market Street From 2nd Street | March 29, 1951. SFMTA Archives

This coming October marks 100 years since Muni ran its first buses. We chronicle a century of coexistence — and competition — between buses and streetcars in San Francisco in a new exhibit now open at our San Francisco Railway Museum.

Originally obtained to extend the reach of Muni’s streetcar lines, buses got bigger and more capable but still were relatively unimportant until World War II. Then, after the war, they sidetracked streetcars to become the dominant form of transit in the city.

Come see this free exhibit at the museum, 77 Steuart Street between Market and Mission, across from the Ferry Building, Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Oh, and come in soon: we’ve just put our great 2017 calendar on sale at the museum only, for just $5 (down from $12.95).)

Later this year, our members will be able to peruse an enhanced version of the exhibit in our quarterly newsletter, Inside Track.  Join now!

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Celebrating New Buses



Right up front, we’ll say this is an unusual post for us, since we are and will continue to be a historic preservation organization. But we are also strong supporters of delivering the best possible public transit in San Francisco. That’s why we want to take a minute to congratulate the leadership of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on their stunning bus modernization program.

Led by the SFMTA Board chaired by Tom Nolan, Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, and Director of Transit John Haley, the SFMTA has turned Muni’s bus fleet from an aging, scattered, and frankly ugly bunch of vehicles into a sleek, green, and homogeneous group of trolley coaches and motor coaches.

Historically, Muni procured buses in a disjointed manner, constrained by past practices and an overly complicated process that often included demands for custom features rather than proven design and technology. The current leadership team pushed hard to simplify and accelerate the procurement process, using innovative ideas such as “piggybacking” their order on another city’s (Seattle, in the case of trolley coaches) to get faster delivery and economies of scale.

All the new coaches come from New Flyer Industries of Winnipeg. The SFMTA board last week approved the purchase of 33 additional 60-foot articulated zero emission trolley coaches (shown above) to join 60 already here.  There are also 225 60-foot hybrid-electric motor coaches and 200 40-foot standard motor coaches already here or on order. Later this year, Muni will order 40-foot standard zero emission trolley coaches as well, completing the program.

The new buses are all over the city, further lowering Muni’s carbon footprint, already among the lowest of any major bus operator in North America.  A few of the 60-foot motor coaches even did recent emergency fill-in duty on the T-Third line briefly when LRV service was disrupted (below).


Kudos to the SFMTA leadership team for this dramatic overhaul of Muni’s bus fleet. (We now resume our regular historic programming. 🙂 )

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