Labor of Love

On this Labor Day, we honor all vintage transit operators in San Francisco by sharing this story from our Member magazine, Inside Track, published in early 2020. Our nonprofit continues to advocate for more F-line service and restoration of the E-Embarcadero line, along with resumed service by vintage streetcars including the Melbourne and Brussels/Zurich trams pictured here.

Operating transit vehicles is a challenging job, in any environment. Right now, it’s more challenging than ever in San Francisco, given justified concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus along with all the other issues they encounter every day.  So, as part of our year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of the permanent F-line, we’d like to give a shout out to three current E- and F-line operators, some of the many who show love for the vintage streetcars and offer their riders great service.

ALEENA GALLOWAY

Aleena joined Muni in 1995, the year the permanent F-line opened, so she’s celebrating her 25th anniversary this year too. She’s passionate about the historic streetcars in general and the E-line, her current route, in particular. Her favorite car to operate, by far: Melbourne 496. Whenever she can get a conductor, she brings the Australian car from Cameron Beach Yard to the waterfront to delight riders. “It’s very durable, number one. It does what you tell it to do. I like the woodwork inside the car, the fact that it’s open and breezy, I like talking to people about the car,” she says. “I’m a people person, so I like being the conductor as well as the motorman. When I’m in a chilling mood, I’m driving, when I’m in a talkative mood, I’m in the back with my megaphone,” she adds with a laugh.

 A native San Franciscan, she applied for several civil service positions out of school, passing tests for the police, sheriff’s and fire departments, “but Muni came through first”, she recalls. She first became enamored of trolley coaches, “because they don’t pollute the air,” and operated them for 20 years before moving over to the vintage streetcars. She has been an official of Transport Workers Union Local 250A and continues to serve on safety committees.

Aleena is known for giving detailed announcements to her riders, especially important on the E-line because many riders who board at the Wharf end of the line aren’t aware E cars don’t go up Market Street. On a recent trip aboard one of the double-end PCCs, she gave very clear and cheerful instructions to riders as the car approached the Ferry Building stop, about how to catch an F-line car up Market, and where her car was headed.“Communication is the key for passengers to get from point A to B, and it’s also the key to making the system work, when you’re talking to supervisors or managers. It’s very important, and people tend to forget that. And how you talk to people is very important.” she notes. 

Aleena pointed out several areas where the E-line could be improved. For example, she reminded us how long it has taken to get informational signage on the N/T line high platforms south of Market, telling people where to go to catch the E. “I see people waving at me from the high platform, wanting to go up toward the Wharf, but I’m already past the E-line stop.  All I can do is just point them in the right direction and tell them to wait for the next E.” (We have been trying to get that signage up for four years, and a test sign recently went up at the Caltrain N-line platform, but Aleena inspired us to follow up, once again, directly with Jeff Tumlin and Julie Kirschbaum. Literally the next day, temporary E-line directional signs appeared on the other high-level platforms along The Embarcadero.”) She made several other practical observations, which we are following up on.

Aleena believes the E-line is extra special: “One other thing I like about the vintage cars is getting to go along the waterfront. It’s just so calming; every day, I’m like ‘I get to do this?’ I just love it.”

MIKE DELIA

In his always-impeccable uniform and a variety of hats to match the weather, Mike Delia makes the PCC he operates look even more like a time machine. And he went out of his way to make that happen. “I’m from Boston; I was a transit operator there, and I moved here to work for Muni,” he says. “I wanted to drive all the ‘old stuff’ and I’m happy that I landed here and Muni gave me the chance to do it.” He put in his time on buses to gain adequate seniority, “and now I’m on the F-line every day, and I’m thankful for that. It’s unique. I wouldn’t drive anything else at this this point.”

The operator known to many peers and riders as “Mr. Boston” knows his adopted city well. “This is Kearny and Geary and Third Street. Buses to Chinatown and the Avenues,” Mike calls out over the car’s public address system. One thing that distinguishes Mike is his stop announcements, made in his native BAH-stin accent. “The thing about the automated announcement is that every intersection on Market Street is three streets, but they only call out two streets, and they don’t call out transfers, or points of interest, so it helps to have that added information, I think,” he says. (It’s worth noting that Mike’s Boston pronunciation of MAH-kit Street matches the way it was pronounced 80-100 years ago here, possibly because of the large Irish immigrant population in each city then.)He calls himself fortunate to have a lot of regular riders on his run, and enjoys interacting with them, even though at times it’s a “mixed blessing”. “There’s always going to be some of them that love ya; there’s always going to be some that can’t stand ya. But I’m thankful and blessed to have a good following. Your passengers can look out for you. And they do.”

Mike is aware of the importance of the F-line to businesses along the route. “I have a special fondness for the Castro neighborhood because I’m friendly with quite a few of the business owners there. Like the coffee shops, the deli, I go in there every day, so they’re like fixtures to me. And the residents of the Castro, they certainly appreciate the F-line and what it does, so I’m thankful for that, too.” Mike has also developed a rapport with the beat cops that walk the Castro, who have offered him assistance on a few occasions. “I’m pleased to say we look out for each other, and that’s a step in the right direction – one civil servant helping another.”

Mike loves greeting visitors from other cities, especially railfans. “You can tell what a railfan looks like, right? I’ll ask them, where are you from, you got any questions about the cars, and I thought I knew a lot, some of them know a lot more than me. You try to make it fun for them, the kids especially. Little kids love trains, and if we’re stopped somewhere in a safe location, I might ask them, ‘Hey you want to ring the bell?’ That always makes a little kid’s day.”

Perhaps his greatest experience with a kid came when a family boarded his car, obviously having a trying morning. Turns out they were in San Francisco from New Jersey on a Make-A-Wish Foundation trip for their son. By coincidence, Mike was operating Car 1070, an ex-Newark streetcar in its original livery. He pointed this out and they perked up. He let the boy ring the gong and open the doors at several stops, and it made that family’s day.

Of course, he regularly meets riders from all over the world and often hears from Italians and Australians looking for their trams. “It can be culturally broadening to work on the F-line because you meet all these different people.” 

As might be guessed, his favorite PCC is Car 1059, wearing the tangerine and silver Boston Elevated Railway livery. And discreetly tucked away on that car’s interior is a little sticker, saying “Boston Strong!”  Just like “Mr. Boston”. 

DAVID GUNTER

            David has been with Muni 21 years. Another native San Franciscan and resident, he loves operating the Brussels car.  “It’s very smooth. It’s like a Cadillac instead of a Volkswagen. It’s a unique piece of equipment. And I like the unusual. David’s seniority allows him to choose what was, at the time of the interview, the only pull-out, pull-in run on the F-line schedule, “so I get to operate the special equipment I’m qualified to do”.  (On this run, the same operator takes the car from the carbarn, operates it for their shift, and brings it back to the barn. Other F-line runs change operators in front of our museum during the day, allowing the car itself to stay on the line for two operator shifts. We’re told there will be more pull-in, pull-out runs coming to the F-line this summer.)   

“Most of your operators on the F-line are good operators. That’s the positive, because you’re working around people who enjoy what they do. They’re willing to work with each other and they’re willing to help each other. That makes you more at ease. And our support team, the mechanics, they’re willing to talk to you when you pull in, and when you’re out on the road, and that helps them repair things that we see as a constant problem every day.” David also gives a shout-out to our museum staff as a resource he can send his riders to with questions, and for the things they do to support the operators. He calls out the museum every time he announces the Steuart Street F-line stop.

Like the other operators we profile here, and the many we’ve talked with on the line, their personal security while operating is an issue to David. All would like to see a more visible presence from uniformed San Francisco Police officers, in exchange for the millions of dollars Muni pays the SFPD for security services every year.

As for what David would like to see in the future? “More use of the cars we don’t get to see often. Bring back the historical operations we used to have where we had vintage cars on the E-line all day, like Car 1 and others.” 

We agree, David, and we’re working on it.

Thanks to all the operators who make Muni’s vintage streetcars and cable cars even more special. If you have a favorite operator, let us know at info@streetcar.org.

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“Better Market Street” keeps shrinking; less disruption likely for F-line

More than ten years ago, the City proposed a modest project to repave downtown Market Street. Planners got involved; advocacy groups pushed to add more features; city departments weighed in with wish lists, all saying, “If you’re going to that that, you should also do THIS.” The project metastasized into a full rebuilding of everything on and under the street from curb to curb, from the foot of Market to Octavia Street, more than two miles.

Every inch of the project area has F-line tracks. And the time those tracks would be torn up kept getting longer, cutting off businesses along Market Street from the riders the popular streetcars bring to them. It was looking like just the first phase of work – three blocks of Market – could sideline the F-line streetcars for up to four years; the whole project could impede F-line service on Market 15 years or even longer, effectively killing the F-line on Market Street for a generation.

F-line PCC 1061, honoring Southern California’s Pacific Electric, at Powell and Market, July 10, 2021. Chance Vonb photo from our Facebook Group.

But now, after community pushback organized by Market Street Railway, the project has been reduced in scope for the second time, bringing it back closer to that initial repaving job (which is desperately needed now). A key to the change of heart on city leaders’ part was their recognition that now is not a good time to completely tear up our main street just as businesses affected by the project are struggling to recover from the pandemic.

On July 13, the project’s manager, Cristina Olea of the Department of Public Works (DPW), told the City’s Board of Supervisors (acting in their role as the governing body of the County Transportation Authority) that the already-reduced scope of the project’s first phase (between Fifth and Eighth Streets), with up to four years of no F-line west of Powell Street, was now off the table. She said the leaders of the three agencies involved, DPW, SFMTA (Muni), and the Public Utilities Commission, had listened to community concerns and asked for alternatives with less disruption to the F-line and to businesses along the route.

Two alternatives were put forward as information, with a decision still to come. Alternative one, called “Safety, Accessibility & Streetscape”, shown below, makes various improvements to the street surface but does not replace the F-line tracks, which Market Street Railway believes still have 20+ years of useful life remaining. F-line disruptions would be limited to short periods, usually weekends, for repaving intersections and running conduit for new traffic signals. The 500-foot stretch between McAllister and Seventh Street, where the much-needed F-line loop to provide extra service will be constructed) is shown on the drawings as Phase 2, but Olea stated that SFMTA engineers are now proceeding with detailed design for the loop, and it is possible that part or even all of it could be built at the tail end of Phase 1, which she estimated would now take two years instead of the previously estimated four years.

The second alternative, estimated to cost $60 million, would add transit and utility upgrades between Seventh and Eighth Streets, including underground utility replacement, F-line track replacement, and new, longer and wider Muni boarding islands, with Muni buses currently using the curb lane relocated to share the track lane with the F-line streetcars in that block. This option would in fact require a shutdown of F-line streetcar service west of Powell for two years. The chair of the Transportation Authority, Sup. Rafael Mandelman, expressed skepticism at Alternative 2, below, suggesting city agencies rethink the whole project scope beyond the basic improvements of Alternative 1 given the impacts of the pandemic.

In response, SFMTA boss Jeff Tumlin said Alternative 2 would provide city agencies with a test bed to see how new curb lane treatments to improve bicycle safety and discourage (now illegal) private motor vehicle use might work. Tumlin said it would also give the city agencies a better idea of just how complex the replacement of water and sewer lines would be.

In public comments at the meeting, Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher expressed MSR’s preference for Alternative 1, involving the least disruption to the F-line. Regarding Alternative 2, he suggested that the block between Seventh and Eighth would not provide a true test of what it takes to replace the complex web of underground utilities beneath Market, because that block has a BART/Muni Metro station beneath the surface, meaning that all underground utilities in that block were replaced 50 years ago and are just half as old as those under the sections of Market Street where BART was tunneled rather than built from the surface down. Further, the location of the utilities above BART stations is well documented, unlike the parts of Market where BART construction didn’t affect existing utilities. If City leaders decide that a trial block of utility replacement is necessary, Laubscher suggested the block between Sixth and Seventh, with older underground utilities. The F-line loop switches and crossings on Market could be installed as part of the work on this block, eliminating the need for a separate shutdown to do that work later.

Hanging over the entire discussion: what many observers are calling “Van Mess” – a similar project to install bus rapid transit lanes and replace underground and above ground utilities along a two-mile stretch of Van Ness Avenue, which is about the same width as Market Street. The Van Ness project has gone way over schedule and budget. That project’s team has blamed the delay on finding unexpected utilities and other things underground, complicating utility replacement. The Van Ness project is still going on, and will end up taking twice as long as projected and costing tens of millions of dollars more. The ongoing delays caused several small businesses on Van Ness to go under, even before the pandemic.

One of the surprises found last month during construction of the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Project: the old crossing of Muni’s H-line streetcar on Van Ness with the California Street cable car, buried under pavement for more than 65 years. The segment at lower right has been preserved. Matt Lee photo.

But even though the utility problems under Van Ness were discovered at the beginning of that project, four years ago, the Market Street project team somehow waited until the last minute to translate those learnings into a greatly increased estimate of how long Market would take. And they still haven’t explained why it would take four years to do three blocks of Market when even with delays, they’re doing two miles of Van Ness – a project five times longer than those three blocks of Market – in not much more time than that.

We at Market Street Railway agree with those, including Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents mid-Market, that City agencies need to step back and consider a new vision for Market Street that recognizes the financial realities of the city and the impacts of travel and land use patterns altered by the effects of the pandemic. Even more important, we ask that city leaders study other cities with old utilities and surface streetcar tracks to identify faster and less disruptive ways to perform replacement projects. There are scores of cities in Europe alone that could provide good case studies, and Jeff Tumlin, as an experienced global transportation consultant with myriad connections in the industry, is the perfect leader to bring these lessons home to San Francisco.

The final decision on which alternative to pursue needs to be made in the next few weeks, according to project manager Cristina Olea, to keep some federal funding from expiring. The heads of SFMTA, DPW, and PUC will collectively make that decision, Olea told the Supervisors at the TA meeting, but SFCTA Chair Mandelman advised that they pay attention to community concerns about disruption. We at Market Street Railway believe that as our economy struggles to recover and attract visitor dollars back to San Francisco, it’s essential that the F-line keep running its whole route. We will keep you up to date on developments.

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Longer F-line hours start June 26, from 7 a.m.-10p.m.

F-line streetcars will operate almost twice as long every day, from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., starting Saturday, June 26.

This represents a huge expansion of the eight-hour-a-day service schedule implemented when the F-line returned to service on May 15, following a 13-month pandemic-caused absence.

The vintage streetcars have been very popular since their return, with service that started around midday and ended before sunset. The expanded hours will allow many more San Franciscans and visitors to enjoy the service between the Castro District and Fisherman’s Wharf via Market Street and The Embarcadero as they work, shop, dine, and play in our newly-reopened city.

“We salute SFMTA leadership for moving quickly to meet the clear demand for longer F-line service hours,” said Rick Laubscher, president of the nonprofit Market Street Railway, an advocacy and support group for the historic streetcars and cable cars. “They listened to merchants along the line, from Castro to the Wharf, saw the popularity of the streetcars as soon as they returned, and took decisive action, in time to serve the increasing numbers of visitors coming to town and San Franciscans resuming their daily routines. Well done.”

Muni chief Julie Kirschbaum made the announcement to a Muni youth advisory group on June 21.

This good news follows Mayor London Breed’s announcement that cable car service will resume in August with free rides on the Powell-Hyde line for those same service hours, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. The free service amounts to a “soft launch” of the cable cars following what will be a 16-month shutdown for them. Fares will be collected starting in September, and the other two lines, Powell-Mason and California Street, will resume service at a later date as operators and other resources become available.

These service expansions leave both the F-line and cable cars several hours short of their pre-pandemic daily operating hours. The hours and levels of cable car service were actually written into the City Charter by voters 50 years ago following persistent attempts to reduce service, but the emergency declaration under which city government is still operating allows this flexibility. F-line service hours and levels don’t have Charter protection and have always been set by rider demand, resource levels, and other operating considerations, the same as other Muni bus and light rail routes.

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Celebrating F-line enablers this Pride Month

There would be no F-line today without the concerted effort of a group of advocates and enablers in the early 1980s. Many of them were openly gay. No better time to celebrate their achievements than Pride Month.

That list simply has to start with Maurice Klebolt, a force of nature. Klebolt, who came to San Francisco from Chicago, ran a one-man travel agency, served as a part-time Muni operator, and cultivated elected officials on a single issue: operating historic streetcars on Market Street after regular streetcar service on the J, K, L, M, and N lines went underground with the opening of the Muni Metro Subway in the early 1980s. Others talked about it and began to plan for it, but Klebolt believed in actually DOING something instead. And did he ever. This story from the San Francisco Chronicle captures his activism perfectly.

Maurice Klebolt (left) with the Hamburg streetcar he brought to San Francisco, flanked by then-Muni General Manager Harold Geissenheimer in about 1984. MSR Archive

Klebolt and then-downtown business executive Rick Laubscher, who mobilized that community through the Chamber of Commerce, teamed up in something of a “Mr. Outside, Mr. Inside” pairing to win acceptance of a proof of concept in the form of a summer “Historic Trolley Festival” in 1983, which was renewed for a total of five seasons and built public support for the permanent F-line in 1995 and its extension to Fisherman’s Wharf in 2000.

Klebolt brought numerous international vintage streetcars to San Francisco for Muni’s fleet, and led the charge to grow the new, seven-member nonprofit known as Market Street Railway into a vibrant membership organization by personally shaking down – er, soliciting – everyone he know (and many he didn’t) for what were then $10 memberships. that remains in Muni’s fleet (and remains in need of restoration). Maury’s untimely death in 1988 at just 58 left a real void, but the success of the Trolley Festivals had put a permanent F-line squarely on City Hall’s agenda. Read our tribute to him here, with more hard-to-believe (but true) tales, including his personal version of Cold War-era glasnost.

“Streetcar Named Desire for Peace”, Moscow/Orel Car 106, brought to San Francisco by Maurice Klebolt, participated in a 1992 parade honoring San Francisco’s centennial of streetcars. MSR Archive

While Klebolt may have been the most visible openly gay man associated with the creation of the F-line, several others played very significant roles. The solid and enduring support of then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein was essential to the Trolley Festivals and permanent F-line, but the implementation of her wishes was carried out by her top transportation staff member, Alan Lubliner. Alan’s attention to detail and follow-through kept the project progressing, even when some inside Muni and other city agencies didn’t see the urgency of action. Alan went on to a very successful career in New York with the transportation consulting firm Parsons-Brinkerhoff (now WSP).

The city’s nonprofit partner in facilitating the first two Trolley Festivals was the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce (Market Street Railway took on that role starting in the third year). Lee Knight led the internal Chamber team that made dozens of arrangements on a faster schedule than the City’s procedures would allow. Lee later joined Muni’s then-parent, the city’s Public Utilities Commission as planning manager, before his life was tragically cut short by AIDS.

Once in operation, the spirit of the Trolley Festival was definitively captured by the senior motorman operating the vintage streetcars, Jack Smith, the son of one of San Francisco’s first African-American streetcar operators. Jack literally learned the craft of piloting streetcars at his father’s knee. His encyclopedic knowledge of San Francisco transit history and his unquestioned expertise in streetcar operation was looked up to by the other operators and by management as well. After his retirement from Muni, he served on Market Street Railway’s board of directors with distinction for several years, and was a long-time volunteer on restoration activities of our organization, focused on original San Francisco streetcars. Here’s how we remembered him after his unexpected passing in 2004, at age 72.

Motorman extraordinaire Jack Smith (left), who could operate any streetcar (or cable car), including the complicated Russian Tram 106, at first sight, receives a mock “tribute” from Maurice Klebolt, who brought the tram from Russia, at 17th and Castro in 1987. MSR Archive

There were many other members of the LGBTQ community that played positive roles in the Trolley Festival, particularly residents and merchants the Castro’s District, whose embrace of the vintage streetcars were a significant boost to their success. The Festival streetcars had to go where tracks already were, making Castro Street the logical terminal. Several gay business groups came together to issue a guide to introduce streetcar riders to neighborhood businesses. A booster committee was formed, led by a gay man named Robert Hunter, who asked the Chamber if they could create their own poster. Of course, came the reply. We have recently been offered a mint-condition copy of this artifact and offer this rough photograph we’ve been sent here.

And speaking of posters, we celebrate John Wullbrandt, then a young San Francisco artist who had done whimsical posters of a PCC and a cable car when we approached him to create posters for the first two Trolley Festivals. John raised the money from two other gay men, Bob Campbell and Joe Caplett, and we gained wonderful promotional tools. John is now a renowned fine artist based near Santa Barbara. We offer John’s 1984 poster of famous San Franciscans riding the Boat Tram (shown below) in our online store and at our museum store. The Chamber of Commerce focused on patronizing LGBTQ businesses for the promotional services needed for the Trolley Festivals, including purchasing signage from a small business on Brady Street, Budget Signs, owned by a young gay man named Mark Leno, who went on to a very successful political career in San Francisco and Sacramento.

Beyond the openly LGBTQ people who helped enable the F-line to become reality, there were other prominent people involved who chose not to reveal their sexual orientation during their lifetimes, and we honor that choice. But their contributions are certainly remembered and appreciated. (Anytime one attempts recognizing people who contributed to a team effort, there is always the risk of missing someone. We apologize if so.)

The historic streetcars have always been wildly popular in the Castro District, from the first article we remember being written about them in a local gay publication (with the headline “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” from Judy Garland’s ‘Trolley Song’) to loud complaints from merchants and residents when F-line service was threatened with extended interruptions. On several occasions, vintage streetcars have taken pride of place in the annual Pride Parade, something we hope will happen again in the future.

During the Trolley Festival’s first year, 1983, both the Blackpool Boat Tram and Muni’s very first streetcar, Car 1, participated in the Pride Parade. MSR Archive

On a national and international level, many gay men took leadership roles in rescuing streetcars from the scrap heap starting after World War II, and in creating museums to operate them. They did this in an era when coming out was to risk severe professional and personal consequences, so they often did not reveal their preferences. But you can see their legacy in museums all over the world. Our nonprofit has likewise benefited by the work of openly gay folks who have served on our board, among them Maury, Jack, Steve Ferrario, and our longtime board member and secretary, Art Curtis, who worked his way up from PCC operator to Chief Inspector at Muni.

Today of course, Muni’s parent, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is headed by a gay man, Jeff Tumlin, a San Franciscan for 30 years and frequent F-line rider. Its board of directors currently includes out small business leader Manny Yekutiel and has had other prominent LGBTQ leaders in the recent past, including former State Senator and State Democratic Party Chair Art Torres, and long-time board Chair Tom Nolan, who was previously a San Mateo County Supervisor. Indeed, at all levels, from front line workers to leadership to governance, the LGBTQ community is extensively represented at SFMTA.

Happy Pride Month!

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Streetcars bring smiles to the streets

Smiles are breaking out along the city’s waterfront and along Market Street, as Muni’s vintage streetcars are out in force for the first time in more than a year. The F-line is running a full test schedule, including pull-outs and pull-ins along the J-Church line, in advance of the official reopening of the line for passenger service on May 15. Initial service will run seven days a week, but just eight hours a day (11 am-7 pm) initially, running the… — Read More

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F-line to return in May, Hyde cable later this year!

Mayor London Breed told a group from Fisherman’s Wharf this morning that F-line vintage streetcar service will return to the full length of the route, from Castro to Fisherman’s Wharf, in May. Cable car service on the Powell-Hyde line (only, for now) will resume as early as mid-summer, but many details remain to be worked out and that date could change. There is no word at this point when service on the Powell-Mason or California lines might resume. It is… — Read More

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F-line 25th anniversary merch!

With San Francisco’s historic streetcars still shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we can’t take an actual ride to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the permanent F-Market line, but we can get some virtual thrills with these two new merchandise items, designed by Chris Arvin. Above, a poster with Chris’s iconic, er, icons that playfully visualize some of Muni’s historic streetcar fleet. Below, a pin featuring a PCC in original Muni livery. These and an ever growing number of… — Read More

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F-line’s 25th anniversary

On September 1, 1995, a parade of vintage streetcars rumbled westward on Market Street, led by the wildly popular Boat Tram 228, to officially inaugurate the permanent F-Market streetcar line (extended in 2000 to become the F-Market & Wharves).  Right from that opening day, the F-line, inspired by the success of the summer Trolley Festivals of the 1980s, opened, it was overwhelmed with riders, far outstripping Muni’s predictions. Many Upper Market residents preferred the clean, upholstered vintage PCC streetcars, with… — Read More

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When will the cable cars and streetcars return?

The short answer is: we don’t know; it’s up to the virus and what we all do together to shorten its grip on our society. But Muni can be ready for that day, and we’re encouraging them to do so. The San Francisco Chronicle reported the other day that cable car operations would likely not resume “until a coronavirus vaccine is widely available”, which health experts think could likely take a least a year, and possibly much longer, to create,… — Read More

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Giving Tuesday: can you help?

Today is Giving Tuesday, a day promoted around the world to focus people’s attention on the needs of many kinds addressed by nonprofits. We at Market Street Railway know full well, especially right now, that there are urgent needs everywhere. We hope you’ll be able to spare a little something for charities in San Francisco, or wherever you’re reading this, that are helping with the Covid-19 pandemic or other human needs. We do want to let you know that Covid-19… — Read More

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Status update, April 15, 2020

Muni has put into effect the dramatic service cuts we told you about in our last update. Muni is currently operating just 17 core routes (out of 87), all served by buses. No rail service of any kind currently. Given our focus, we won’t discuss details of that here, but if you read the public comments at the bottom of SFMA’s announcement, you’ll see a lively debate. The cable car machinery is completely shut down, though some cosmetic and restoration… — Read More

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Car-free Market Speeds Up F-line

A new study, plus research by our board member Chris Arvin, shows that the first month of the ban on private automobiles on Market Street is making Muni operations, including the F-line, faster, according to this story in the San Francisco Examiner. For the F streetcar, in particular, the impacts are “really noticeable,” Arvin said. Most morning commute streetcar trip from Ninth and Market streets to First and Market streets took more than 15 minutes. Since the car ban, about… — Read More

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Hear Mayor Art Agnos’ Inside Stories of Embarcadero Transformation March 21

Nothing has improved San Francisco more in the past 30 years than the transformation of its waterfront boulevard, The Embarcadero. The city’s mayor at the time, Art Agnos, bucked some strong special interests to achieve the removal of the double-deck Embarcadero Freeway in front of the Ferry Building, replacing it with a surface roadway, pedestrian promenade, and — of course — streetcar tracks. Mayor Agnos was aided in all this by his deputy mayor for transportation, the late Doug Wright… — Read More

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