Fabulous Fleet Week

The Navy’s Blue Angels were just a tad faster than the Boat Tram. Chris Arvin photo.

This year’s San Francisco Fleet Week (October 7-14) saw more vintage streetcars participating than ever. It all came together quickly, once SFMTA (Muni) was able to sign up operators for overtime work.

Muni’s 1934 Blackpool Boat Trams delighted riders with open-air rides in perfect weather past Navy Ships tied up along the Embarcadero. Some lucky riders, like our Board member Chris Arvin, got to see the Navy’s famed Blue Angels flight team streak by as they rumbled along the pavement on the Boat.

Melbourne Tram 496 patrolling the E-Embarcadero line serving all the Fleet Week ships. Steve Souza photo.

Melbourne Tram 496, celebrating its 90th birthday, ran the E-Embarcadero line for several days, passing its country’s new destroyer HMAS Brisbane, berthed at Pier 17. And while there were no ships from the Swiss Navy in port this year for Fleet Week, “EuroPCC” 737, painted to honor San Francisco’s sister city Zurich, ran the full F-line a couple of days.

“EuroPCC” 737 poses at the Ferry Building along with vintage streetcar trainer extraordinaire Robert Parks.

We will be working closely with Fleet Week leaders and SFMTA to try to make next year’s event even better, from a streetcar participation perspective. Thanks for this year’s help to Randy Catanach, SFMTA chief of rail maintenance; Craig Raphael of special transit operations, and Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum.

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Boat Cruising This Weekend!

In a welcomed decision, Muni has launched one of the 1934 Blackpool “boat trams” to help carry crowds along The Embarcadero enjoying Fleet Week 2017!

Open-topped boat Tram 228 will be shuttling between The Ferry Building and our San Francisco Railway Museum and Pier 39 Saturday and Sunday, October 7 and 8 from 11 am to 6 pm. Come out and enjoy a ride.

Thanks to Muni for operating it on one of the most warm and beautiful weekends of the year, and thanks to Matt Lee for the photo of the boat at the Ferry Building taken at the beginning of its weekend.

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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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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.

1008 E-line small.jpg

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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Photo of the Moment: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Click photo to enlarge The overcast seems like it’s been with us forever, but here’s a sight to brighten the scene: two of the brightest streetcars in the F-line fleet passing on The Embarcadero the other day. Milan tram No. 1811 wears the yellow and white livery this “Ventotto” class originally wore (“Ventotto”=28,for the year, 1928, when the first ones went into service). PCC No. 1076 evokes the tropics in its aqua and flamingo orange paint job, jarring for Washington… — Read More

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