The very popular annual Muni Heritage Weekend is being postponed at least into spring of 2021. No exact date has yet been sent for the rescheduled event.
The postponement has seemed inevitable for weeks, given the course of Covid-19 through San Francisco, and the enduring shelter-in-place orders. SFMTA and Market Street Railway, which co-sponsor the event, agreed this week that it was not feasible to hold it on August 22-23, its scheduled 2020 dates. As a result, we’ve jointly set a goal of holding the event next spring on a weekend to be determined.
These levels of service restoration would be implemented in concert with improved public health and business conditions, which will drive service demand. Rail service is scheduled to resume in Level 4, coincident with “Schools Open” among other milestones. That won’t happen before August. The final level, 6, occurs with “end of crisis; large events and tourism returns; increased demand for travel to downtown”. Again, no date on this.
Social distancing guidelines on Muni transit vehicles are very likely to still be in place this August, as are prohibitions of gatherings of 50 or more people. Even if the virus were to fade faster than currently anticipated, it would take longer than the three months between now and August 22-23 for Muni to properly organize and staff for the event.
While the postponement of Heritage Weekend is disappointing to all, it is in tune with the cancellation of myriad events that attract crowds. In a way, it may present an opportunity at the same time.
It has been harder to find workable dates for Heritage Weekend the past few years, as special events in the fall have proliferated, putting more demands on Muni to provide operators and work around street closures for races, Giants games, and the like. We (Market Street Railway) have been contemplating whether spring would be a better time. This looks like a chance to find out.
Meanwhile, streetcars continue to pop up periodically on the streets, either on operator training or testing missions. Pat Garvey posted the photo above to our Market Street Railway Facebook group the other day, with PCC “Green Hornet” 1058 out for exercise on Market Street, passing two masked bicyclists.
Market Street Railway will continue to press for the earliest feasible return to the streets for San Francisco’s historic streetcars and cable cars, consistent with operator and passenger safety. And we will be working with SFMTA to make the next Muni Heritage Weekend the best ever.
We heard those words over and over the past two days. It was the best Muni Heritage Weekend ever. The biggest crowds (people queued up for an hour or more on Sunday to get a Boat Tram ride), the most kids (a new generation of public transit fans being created), the widest variety of vehicles (debut of Sacramento-Clay cable car 19 and Melbourne tram 916), BOTH boats out on Saturday, BOTH Melbourne trams out on Sunday, plus five vintage buses, the always popular 1896 “Dinky” streetcar, and even the Brussels/Zurich “EuroPCC” in regular service both days to Castro on the F-line. All that, plus big crowds at our San Francisco Railway Museum, center of all the action.
The single disappointment of the weekend was a compressor failure on Muni Car 1 that kept it out of action, but it should certainly be fixed for next year.
We’re sharing a few photos here. We’ll have a full wrap-up in the next issue of our quarterly member newsletter, Inside Track.
Thanks to everyone who made the weekend a success, led by MSR Board Chair Carmen Clark and Vice Chair Tony Sabella, President Rick Laubscher, and Museum Manager Alison Cant, plus many great volunteers, including our board members Ian Dailey, Chris Arvin, Kat Siegal, Katie Haverkamp, Paul Wells, Paul Lucas, Will Flynn, and Ron Fisher. And at SFMTA/Muni, Katy Guyon, who did a great job organizing the information stations on the plaza, and Jonathan Kibrick, who kept the vintage vehicles moving. Special thanks to MSR members Steve Souza and Jeremy Whiteman for providing pizza and water to the vehicle operators and plaza volunteers all weekend, and of course great thanks to all the operators and maintainers who got the vehicles ready and took them through their paces. The smiles of riders and onlookers lit up the scene everywhere the vehicles went.
Muni Heritage Weekend, September 7 and 8, is the best two days of the year when it comes to riding a wide range of vintage transit vehicles — streetcars, cable cars, trolley buses, and motor buses — ranging in age from 44 to 136 years! You literally cannot do that anywhere else in the world, at any time.
And it’s also the best two days of the year to get your shopping done at our San Francisco Railway Museum, the center of all the Heritage Weekend action. That’s because Market Street Railway members AND all current SFMTA employees will receive a 20% discount on all of the merchandise in our museum store. That includes our 2020 calendar, our great selection of transit themed tee-shirts, hats, and other apparel, Muni logo gear, genuine cable car rail paperweights and plaques, books, a wide array of kids’ items, and more. Many of these items are not available online or in other stores.
Our museum store selection includes items specially for us by our board member Chris Arvin, a great designer recently featured here with his own great “merch”.
Get an early start on holiday shopping with many items you can’t find anywhere else. (The everyday discount for our members and for SFMTA employees is 10%. This special offer is for in-person purchases at the museum only, not in our online store. We’ll be offering our members who can’t come to Heritage Weekend a 20% discount period at our online store inn a few weeks.)
Not a current Market Street Railway member? We can fix that easily. For just $20, we’re offering a special six-month membership to introduce more people to our non-profit transit preservation organization. Sign up at our booth in the plaza across the tracks from the museum on Heritage Weekend and you’ll instantly be eligible for the 20% members discount in the museum. You’ll also receive the latest two issues of our quarterly member magazine, Inside Track, along with the next two in your six month membership.
But, as they say in infomercials, wait, there’s more. If you take the plunge on Heritage Weekend for a full year’s basic membership (at $45), we’ll add token of thanks, literally: a genuine Muni token, a little smaller than a dime, minted in the 1930s, and still valid for a single ride on a Muni bus or streetcar/LRV (a ride that now costs $3 in cash, by the way). We have a limited number of these, offered in person at Heritage Weekend only. And, if you choose our Conductor membership at $100 annually, you’ll get the token plus a 2020 calendar, a $14 value when you add in sales tax.
SFMTA employees don’t need to join Market Street Railway to receive the 20% discount on Heritage Weekend. The double discount (usually 10%) is our nonprofit’s way of saying thanks to the folks who keep San Francisco moving. But we hope that more SFMTA employees will join Market Street Railway for the other benefits of membership.
And because many SFMTA employees are at work during Heritage Weekend, we’re extending their 20% discount the following week, Transit Week, so it’s good for SFMTA employees through Friday, September 13.
But whether you take advantage of these special offers or not, come on down to Muni Heritage Weekend. It’s going to be the best one yet! If you absolutely can’t make it this year, you can still join Market Street Railway online, supporting our efforts that make events like Muni Heritage Weekend possible. All members, old and new, we’ll alert you in a few weeks to our 20% off online store sale, just for you.
September 7 and 8 are shaping up to be the best Muni Heritage Weekend ever! This year’s seventh annual event should feature two vintage rail vehicle debuts, plus a full roster of returning favorite streetcars, cable cars, and buses. All the action is centered at our San Francisco Railway Museum, 77 Steuart Street across from the Ferry Building at the F-line Steuart Street stop. (The one exception: the special cable cars, which will board one block away at California and Market Streets.)
Vintage vehicles will start operating at 11 a.m. both days, with the exception of the streetcar shuttles on The Embarcadero, which will start running around 12 noon because of the Giant Race, a waterfront footrace that was rescheduled to this date after we locked in Heritage Weekend dates. But there’ll still be plenty of time to get in your rides.
On the plaza opposite our museum, Muni’s motorized cable car 62 will be available for kids of all ages to ring their hearts out on. We’ll have a variety of kids’ games, a new selfie opportunity in front of a huge vintage colorized historic photo from 1947, book signings by Paul Bignardi of his brand new Muni Fleet History (available for the first time) and Emiliano Echeverria with his DVD book of our namesake, the Market Street Railway of 1893, our annual book and memorabilia sale, and much more. At the request of our out-of-town members, MSR President Rick Laubscher will repeat his interactive presentation of the narrated 1906 Trip Down Market Street film at the museum on Saturday at 5:45 p.m.
Market Street Railway Members will get 20% off all merchandise in the museum this weekend only (up from the normal 10%), as will employees of SFMTA, as our thanks for our productive partnership. AND, to introduce new people to Market Street Railway, we’ll be offering trial six-month memberships for just $20, which will include the last two issues of our Member magazine, Inside Track. So, this is the perfect opportunity to bring friends and relatives down for a great weekend of rare rides and shopping bargains.
Okay, now to the meat of the matter for many fans. We now have a semi-final vehicle lineup for Muni Heritage Weekend. Here it is:
Special cable cars operate at regular fares as part of regular California Street cable car service, between Market Street (one block from San Francisco Railway Museum) and Van Ness Avenue, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
1948 Muni PCCs 1006 and 1008, double-ended “torpedoes”. Operating on the E-line in regular service (Caltrain/Ballpark-Wharf), regular fares apply.
1952 “EuroPCC” 737 (Brussels, but wearing Zurich sister city livery). Operating on the F-line in regular service (Castro-Wharf), regular fares apply.
1952 Muni PCC 1040 – the last of almost 5,000 PCC streetcars built in North America. Operating on the F-line in regular service (Castro-Wharf), regular fares apply.
TROLLEY COACHES: (Begin operations at 11 a.m. both days)
Board on Steuart Street at Don Chee Way (next to the San Francisco Railway Museum). All rides are free. Stops only at terminals. One of the trolley coaches will leave Steuart Street approximately every 45 minutes.
1950 Marmon-Herrington trolley coach 776, painted in Muni’s famous green and cream “Wings” livery.
1975 Flyer Trolley Coach, painted in Muni’s “Landor” livery of orange, gold, and white.
SATURDAY TROLLEY COACH ROUTE: to Washington Square in North Beach via the 41-Union line through Embarcadero Center and Columbus Avenue.
SUNDAY TROLLEY COACH ROUTE: via Sutter and Mason Streets to connect with Tenderloin Sunday Streets activity, returning via Market from Mason.
MOTOR COACHES: (Begin operations at 11 a.m. both days)
Board on Steuart Street at Don Chee Way (next to the San Francisco Railway Museum). All rides are free. No pickups en route. One of the motor coaches should leave Steuart Street approximately every 30 minutes.
1938 White Company motor coach 042, which served as a Coit Tower bus for four decades; now repainted into its original Muni livery of orange and black.
1956 Mack motor coach 2230, fully restored to immaculate condition, wearing its original “Wings” livery.
1970 GMC “Fishbowl/New Look” motor coach 3287, wearing its original Muni maroon and cream “Cal Cable” livery.
SATURDAY MOTOR COACH ROUTE: via 82x route on Sansome and Battery Streets to reach Levi’s Plaza and the Cruise Ship Terminal (Pier 27).
SUNDAY MOTOR COACH ROUTE: same as trolley coaches (Market, Sutter, Mason, return via Market) to connect with Tenderloin Sunday Streets activity.
We will have one more update before Heritage Weekend on anticipated schedules, posted on this site; we’ll also have schedules for book signings and talks at the museum. Watch for it.
NOTE: Muni has a chronic operator shortage that has lingered, but shows some signs of easing. Only specially qualified operators can take the controls of the historic streetcars and buses, and they are generally working on their regular days off. The vehicles on the street obviously have to match operator availability on a given day; that’s why a couple of vehicles are only scheduled to be out one day–so that riders can get a greater variety over the weekend.
Also, while at this writing every vehicle mentioned here is operational, a couple are pending final go-aheads to enter service (Cable Car “Big 19” and Melbourne 916). We don’t anticipate problems, but mention this in full disclosure. Finally, of course, operational problems can always develop with any transit vehicle. But we know Muni’s maintenance teams are doing a great job in getting everything ready and want to show off their “babies”. They have a lot to be proud of; we hope you come and enjoy Muni Heritage Weekend.
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