On this Thanksgiving weekend, we’d like to shout out thanks to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), Muni’s parent, for their continuing support of historic transit. There are few agencies in the country that meaningfully support their own legacies, and none that do so in four distinct vehicle modes. (Of course, no one else HAS four vehicle modes like Muni: streetcar/light rail, motor coach, trolley coach, and cable car).
Case in point: O'Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car No. 42, which carried delighted passengers on the California Street cable car line November 4 and 11 as part of this year’s Muni centennial celebrations. Muni’s cable car shop, which performed a mechanical restoration of the car in 2004-5 following a cosmetic restoration by our members, prepared and tested the unique car, while the operations side put it on the street without a hitch.
The special service drew the attention of Diane Harrigan of the website Postcards from San Francisco, who interviewed MSR President Rick Laubscher and created this great video of the day.
On the streetcar side, Operations made a special effort to get the city’s oldest streetcar, No. 578, out for special service on November 11, undertaking the special training of operatiors required. Again, riders were delighted. Robert Lewis sent us the narrated video below, showing a trip to Pier 39 and back. It also shows all the change along the waterfront enabled in part by the attractive, frequent F-line service.
By the way, on that trip we rode alongside perhaps the most knowledgeable living historian of the early years of San Francisco transit, Emiliano Echeverria. He told us with certainty that No. 578 was built in 1896, rather than 1895 as some reports have had it. In those days, he explained, each of the early streetcar lines had its own dedicated fleet, which was color-coded to make the cars easier to spot by intending riders. (The cable cars of this era operated by an early manifestation of our namesake, Market Street Railway Company, were operated and painted the same way.) Emiliano explained that the high number (the top number of this class was 580) indicates it was one of the extra cars bought when the Ellis and O'Farrell line was extended across Market Street to reach the Southern Pacific Peninsula train depot via Fourth Street. (That same route was taken over by Muni’s original F-Stockton line after World War II.) That dates 578 to 1896. (We’ve updated our own records.)
Among buses, the shops also returned 1950 Marmon-Herrington trolley coach to service and also ran 36-year old Flyer No. 5300 in its as-delivered Landor livery.
There’s more to come in the bus department in the coming month, which we’ll tell you about soon. For now, we hope you share our thanks to Muni’s team in bringing history to life.