Muni’s PCC streetcars are painted in tribute to most of the 30+ North American cities that once operated them. Streetcars had disappeared long ago from all but seven of those PCC cities: Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, Newark, Pittsburgh, Shaker Heights, Ohio, and San Francisco itself. Now, though, there is a real renaissance of streetcar operation among former PCC cities. Enterprising preservationists in Dallas started the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority in 1983 and El Paso is now restoring PCCs for a downtown line. And there’s a spate of former PCC cities turning to modern streetcars to revitalize neighborhoods. MSR President Rick Laubscher was just in Cincinnati, where their new line is testing in advance of a planned September opening. (Note they kept a shade of yellow, as used on their PCCs, and they started numbering them from where their PCCs stopped.)
This renaissance of streetcars in PCC cities is a great story, and we’ll have it, with great details, exclusively for our Members in the next Inside Track, our quarterly member letter, due out in September. Join Market Street Railway now, and you’ll get our just-released newsletter with a colorful story on the vintage Powell Street cable car liveries, which we helped Muni bring back onto the line…and a story on a transformative time for transit in San Francisco 75 years ago, in 1941. If you’re intrigued by historic transit, you really need to join Market Street Railway.
Our San Francisco Railway Museum manager, Brian Leadingham, spotted this mystery PCC streetcar gliding by the museum the other day and snapped this quick shot. It’s No. 1056, which has been out of service for quite some time after cracks were found in the part of the frame that attaches the car to one of its trucks (wheel sets). The paint shop was taking the opportunity to repaint the car and had gotten the base coat of cream on when it was decided not to finish the repairs.
Reason: Muni is currently waiting for bids from contractors to renovate the original F-line fleet of 16 PCCs (Nos. 1050-1053, 1055-1063, 1007, 1010 and 1015). These streetcars have seen much heavier use than originally anticipated, due to the popularity of the F-line. The bodies will be fully cleared of rust (the original contractor did a poor job of this 20 years ago), the wiring will be updated, and they will gain the same new propulsion equipment, faithfully based on original PCC designs, that was installed in the last group of renovated streetcars (Nos. 1070-80, 1006, 1008, 1009, 1011, and 1040). This will make the PCC fleet closely standardized, based on equipment of the Westinghouse design, and thus easier to maintain.
Once the new renovation contract is finalized several months in the future, the 16 PCCs will probably be shipped to the contractor three at a time. Meanwhile, in the near-term, needed two good trucks to keep other PCCs running. So No. 1056 will temporarily become a “donor car”, giving up its trucks, which it will get back when it goes out for renovation (it will be one of the first group to go). The car was being moved by shop workers from Cam Beach Yard to Metro East for that purpose.