Buses on F-line, No E-line Sunday, June 24

The Pride Parade has been San Francisco’s summer kickoff celebration for more than decades now, with huge throngs lining Market Street to watch almost 300 parade units go by.

Back in the 1980s, historic streetcars were actually part of the parade, shown here in 1983, as a Blackpool boat tram and Muni’s famed Car 1 participated. The boat tram’s authentic destination sign seemed particularly appropriate.

This year, though, streetcars will be completely absent from the parade route, not only for the duration of the event, but for the entire day and night of Sunday, June 24. Muni is operating substitute buses instead, via Mission Street.

The fact that the historic streetcar fleet has moved back to Cameron Beach Yard (across from the Balboa Park BART station) from its temporary home the past four years at Muni Metro East (in Dogpatch on the T-line), means E-Embarcadero line streetcars would have to head into service early and stay out until the parade route clears, since they must now use Market Street going into and out of service. Rather than do that, Muni Operations has cancelled E-line service altogether on Sunday.

 

So don’t look for any vintage streetcars on the street at all Sunday, June 24. No E-line service from the Ferry Building (shown above) to the Giants’ game, no streetcars to offer visitors to the city, or Pride Parade participants or spectators, a fun ride to Fisherman’s Wharf. As we have reported here before, any excuse to shut down or impede the E-line sounds like a good excuse to certain people in Muni Operations. (Important note: Muni has managed to operate streetcars along The Embarcadero on numerous occasions in the past when Market Street was blocked to transit. They know how to do it.)

By the way, June 23 marks the 35th anniversary of the opening of the first Historic Trolley Festival. We’ve found some never-before published photos of that memorable event that we’re publishing in the next issue of our member magazine, Inside Track, as part of a look back at the demonstration project that proved the value of historic streetcars as part of Muni’s daily operations. You can receive it by joining Market Street Railway.

 

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Opening Day, with Car 1!

In a welcome surprise, Muni Operations assigned its flagship streetcar, vintage 1912 Car 1, to regular E-line service today, the first time that has happened since the E-line opened for seven-day service two years ago.

It caught our usual coterie of fan-photographers off-guard, but we managed to catch a shot of it, above, pulling in to Muni Metro East at the end of the day.

The special appearance was probably because of the Giants’ home opener at AT&T Park on the E-line. The team is celebrating its 60th year in San Francisco. When the Giants arrived in 1958, Car 1 had already been retired from its first operating life for seven years and was sitting on a dark pier, its motors removed, marked for static display in a museum that never came to pass.

But Car 1 got a second life in 1962 when it was restored by Muni craftsworkers to commemorate Muni’s 50th anniversary. (That of course was the year that the Giants WOULDA won the World Series IF ONLY Willie McCovey had hit that line drive a foot higher or to the right of Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson in the ninth inning of Game 7 at Candlestick, but we digress.)

Today, as for the past two seasons, E-line cars like 1011 (above) carried lots of happy fans between Fisherman’s Wharf and the game. It and other Muni streetcars on the E-and F-lines carried special Giants’ 60th Anniversary flags today, supplied by our generous volunteer James Giraudo and installed at 2 a.m. by the dedicated Joe Hickey, who oversees our flag program. Like the rest of us, Joe didn’t know Car 1 was going into service, so it didn’t have the flags on it, but it hit a home run anyway. (So did two Giants, Joe Panik and Evan Longoria, but the home team lost anyway, 6-4 to Seattle.)

By the way, the Giants flags also appropriately appeared on Powell Cable Car 24, which is dedicated to the greatest Giant, Willie Mays. Val Lupiz did a dandy job decorating Car 24 with help from James Giraudo, Jeremy Whiteman, and Frank Zepeda!

Discussion at the ball park today centered around some major league “firsts” set over the weekend, which got us to wondering whether this was the first time in its 105-year life that Car 1 had carried fans to a baseball opening day. The answer? Probably.

In 1914, the San Francisco Seals moved to a brand new ball park, Ewing Field, on Masonic Avenue. Muni built a spur track from Geary Street along Masonic to serve the new ball park, and assigned some runs of the A-line to Ewing on game days. No run assignments survive from those days, but Car 1 was based at Geary Division, just three blocks away, in 1914, so it’s at least a possibility it served Ewing Field for that year’s opening game (which the Seals lost to Oakland, 3-0). The photo below shows a Muni streetcar of Car 1’s type (possibly Car 1 itself) on the A-line at the Ferry Building with a “Ball Park” designation on the dash. The “1915” on the Ferry Building tower signifies the upcoming Panama-Pacific International Exposition, but the photo was taken during the 1914 baseball season, and the “ball park” reference is to Ewing Field.

Ewing Field was a disaster for baseball, even foggier and windier than Candlestick was in later decades, so the Seals moved back to Recreation Park at 15th and Valencia Streets in 1915 (served by United Railroads/Market Street Railway streetcar lines, but not Muni lines). Muni’s investment in the Masonic Avenue spur turned out to be largely a waste, as it was never again used in revenue service and largely torn out by the late 1930s.

The Seals stayed at Recreation Park until 1931 when they moved to a new Seals Stadium at 16th and Bryant. Market Street Railway streetcars on the 22 and 25 lines served Seals Stadium directly, while Muni’s H-Potrero line was a block east. Car 1 operated on the H-line in the late 1910s and early 1920s out of Potrero Division, but it was back at Geary Division and usually assigned to the F-Stockton, D-Van Ness, or C-Geary-California, so it probably never made a Seals Stadium opening day. (The Giants played their first two seasons at Seals Stadium while Candlestick Park was being built. Millions of fans over Candlestick’s 40 year history as the home of the Giants took Muni diesel buses to the games.)

Market Street Railway is proud to count the San Francisco Giants as one of our business supporters. Play ball! Go Giants!

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Hail and Farewell, Mayor Ed Lee

In transit jargon, the trip to the carbarn after completing the day’s runs is the pull-in. A man who helped revitalize San Francisco’s transit system has unexpectedly — and very sadly — finished his runs, way too soon.

Mayor Edwin Lee died suddenly of a heart attack in the early hours of December 12, 2017. He was just 65 years old.

Pictured above on a boat tram at the opening of the E-Embarcadero vintage streetcar line in 2015 with then-Supervisor Julie Christensen, we will always remember Mayor Lee for his delight with the historic streetcars. But he meant far more to the city’s transportation system than that.

As Mayor, Ed Lee put a team in place at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, parent of Muni, that dramatically improved the condition of the vehicle fleet, replacing hundreds of buses (both trolley coaches and motor coaches) and began the replacement of the light rail vehicle fleet. Led by SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin and Director of Transit John Haley, the LRV procurement and bus replacement were carried out in a fraction of the time that previous fleet replacements took.

He appointed strong bicycle advocates, disabled advocates, and transit advocates to the SFMTA Board of Directors. The Board’s strongest bicycle advocate, Cheryl Brinkman, is now the Board Chair.  These appointments are part of an important legacy.

 

And we also remember how Mayor Lee took delight in Muni’s centennial celebration in 2012, even repeating what his predecessor “Sunny Jim” Rolph had done a century before — personally take the controls of Muni’s very first streetcar (yes, the very same streetcar) to kick off the celebration.

Two bells, Mayor Lee. Rest in Peace.

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More Muni Mismanagement of the E-line

PLEASE SEE JULY 11 UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.

Sunday, July 9, has been a gorgeous day in San Francisco, but not a good day (again) for the E-Embarcadero line, which again has been mismanaged, in this case by assigning a streetcar that should have been on the E-line to the F-line instead.

In the photo above, you see one of the seven double-end PCCs, the 1007, working the F-line to Castro, not the E. The double-end PCCs are required on the E-line because single-end streetcars (which are five times more plentiful than double-enders in Muni’s fleet) can’t turn around at the E-line terminal at Sixth and King Streets. Making the issue more critical: for technically complex reasons we won’t get into here, two of those seven double-ended PCCs can’t currently use the Sixth and King terminal and thus have to turn around short of it, skipping the Caltrain stop in both directions and screwing up E-line service along the whole line. So good management means minimizing the number of days those two double-ended PCCs (1009 and 1015) are assigned to the E-line for now. If they had assigned one of those two cars to the F-line, no problem. But assigning a “good” E-line car, 1007, to the F, meant that 1009 was running on the E-line, and skipping the Caltrain stop every time, screwing up the line.

Using a different terminal for the 1009 and 1015 on the E-line guarantees the operation will be thrown off for the entire line, and Muni management knows it.  Market Street Railway has made numerous recommendations to Muni management to try to make the E-line run more reliably, such as using vintage cars like Muni Car 1 or Melbourne 496, which can run the full E-line route without problems, to avoid ever putting those “bad” PCCs into the E-line mix. None of our suggestions has yet been put into effect.

As is common on the E-line now, we saw two E-line cars running nose-to-tail today when they should’ve been 15 minutes apart. That means there is a 30-minute gap between E-line cars elsewhere on the line at that moment…sometimes worse if other factors come into play.

And decisions like the one made today, to put one of the good E-line cars on the F-line instead, only makes things worse.

 

UPDATE, July 11: Market Street Railway and SFMTA leaders held their monthly meeting today and spent most of their time on the issue. The streetcar pictured above has been reassigned to the E-line and from now on, Muni Operations will do everything they can to limit double-end PCCs on the F-line to those two cars (1009, 1015) that have trouble using the normal E-line southern terminal at Caltrain.

The current issue was not the fault of Muni Rail Maintenance, which put the two double-enders out on the F-line (mistakenly assigning one wrong car) because of an overall temporary streetcar shortage. This included delays in getting some of the new streetcars just returned from Brookville Equipment Company into revenue service because of a shortage of operators to “burn them in” quickly — accumulate the required 1,000 miles without passengers to test the system. One newly returned car is also out with warranty work while another, about to go into rehab at Brookville, was pulled from service when a crack in the bolster under the car was discovered (bolster strengthening is a key target of the rehabilitation process). This temporary single-end car shortage should pass within a couple of weeks.

We had a productive discussion at this meeting on other steps that might be taken in the short-term to try to improve service performance on the E-line, though no actions were clearly committed to by SFMTA. We appreciate the discussion and look forward to seeing concrete positive results soon.

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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… — Read More

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Fleet Weekend Service Adjustments on E, F

The weekend of Fleet Week (that’s Saturday-Sunday, October 8-9 this year) is one of the most crowded weekends along The Embarcadero with pedestrians, motorists, and transit riders all jamming in along the waterfront to see the Navy ships, the Blue Angels air show and more. This year, the Italian Heritage Parade takes place Sunday on top of it all, closing Jefferson Street (and the F-line route) through Fisherman’s Wharf for a time. Muni has just announced some service adjustments for… — Read More

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E-line NextBus Map Working!

NextBus, Muni’s vendor for live displays showing where every vehicle is on every route, has launched the full-time E-Embarcadero map. You can now see what’s on both the E- and F-lines by clicking here, then selecting the map you want: F-line only, E-line only, or a combination (as shown in the screenshot above). We thank NextBus (which labels its maps here “NextMuni”) for including the icons (which we supplied them) of the actual streetcars that are on the line, a… — Read More

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E-line Gets Going

The E-line had a successful first day of operation August 1. Five double-end PCC streetcars cruised the waterfront from Fisherman’s Wharf to Caltrain from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the standard weekend schedule that will be in place until full-time, seven-day-a-week service starts early next year. The stations south of Market Street were very well marked with clearly worded signs and banners in multiple languages, created by SFMTA’s Communications Division. The signs, on both the low-level E-line side platforms and… — Read More

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E-line Kickoff; Boat Tram Debuts

San Francisco’s newest transit line started operation this morning, August 1, 2015, after an enthusiastic kickoff event on The Embarcadero yesterday. This photo, by Scott Badovick, captures the instant when dignitaries led by Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisors Julie Christensen, Scott Wiener, and Jane Kim, SFTMA Board Chair Tom Nolan and Vice Chair Cheryl Brinkman, SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, and SFCTA Executive Director Tilly Chang, simultaneously snipped a red ribbon to mark the occasion. In the background, PCC No. 1006,… — Read More

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New Boat at E-line Ceremony July 31

Muni’s new “boat tram,” Blackpool, England open-top Car No. 233, will officially debut on July 31 at the opening press event for the new E-Embarcadero line. The new boat tram, Muni’s second example of this popular 1934 design, was acquired for Muni by Market Street Railway in 2013, thanks to a very generous donation by the Thoresen Foundation, and ocean shipping subsidized by FedEx Trade Networks.  The boat, pictured above when on display during 2013’s Muni Heritage Weekend, has been… — Read More

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E-line Opening Now August 1

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… — Read More

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Training for E-line Under Way

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… — Read More

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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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E-line Service Sunday, July 7

The special E-Embarcadero streetcar service was a big hit on July 4. It’s running again on Sunday, July 7, from the Caltrain Depot at Fourth and King Streets to Jones and Jefferson Streets in Fisherman’s Wharf. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The E-line service on July 4 drew big crowds, like this one at the Caltrain Depot. Bruce Agid photo. Service will be provided by double-end vintage streetcars, led by the restored 1948 PCC cars. The service is… — Read More

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