Vintage rail summer starts now!

This summer, Market Street Railway is joining with SFMTA/Muni to provide extra vintage rail service in The City, five days a week. It’s part of a wide-ranging effort by City agencies, business groups, and nonprofits like ours to remind San Franciscans of unique aspects of The City and attract more visitors from both near and far.

Starting May 30, there’ll be either special vintage cable car or streetcar service five days a week, Thursdays – Mondays, through October 14 (Fleet Week).

Hyde Ride Starts May 30

The Hyde Ride expands a successful once-a-month service operated at our suggestion for the 150th cable car anniversary, a round-trip run for a single $8 fare from Aquatic Park (Hyde and Beach Streets) up the Hyde hill, across Washington St. to Chinatown and right back again to Aquatic Park. This special 150th service featured 1907 O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde Cable Car 42 (brought back to San Francisco by MSR 20 years ago), operating on part of its original route.

This service proved very popular with riders only going as far as Chinatown, or just wanting a cable car ride for its own sake, so popular that Muni’s leader Julie Kirschbaum approved this service three days a week this summer, from 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

A spontaneous test of the service on May 11 drew full loads on Sacramento-Clay Cable Car “Big 19”, with MSR’s master docent (and newest Board member) Todd Glickman informing riders waiting in the long boarding queue of this shorter round-trip option. This also resulted in shorter waits for the majority of riders wanting to take the full Powell-Hyde route to Union Square and Market Street.

Big 19, which is scheduled to operate regularly on Fridays, will share the honors with two other very special cable cars. O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde Car 42, almost unaltered from its original configuration, will return to part of its original 1907-1954 Hyde Street route on the first Saturday of every month. It’s pictured below at Hyde and Greenwich, in a great Jeremy Whiteman shot.

Vintage rail summer starts now!

Thursdays are scheduled to regularly see Instagram-magnet Cable Car 53, the one dedicated to Tony Bennett this year, with its unique “Halfway to the Stars” ribbons on the ends, a phrase from Bennett’s signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”. Tony’s car and Big 19 will take turns on the Hyde Ride on the Saturdays that Car 42 is resting. Tony’s Car 53 will regularly appear on its home California line the other days of the week.

These three cars are double-ended and too long for the turntables on the Powell lines. They can use a switch at the Aquatic Park terminal to reverse, but cannot go downtown on Powell, where the terminal at Market Street lacks such a switch (which MSR continues to advocate for).

Since there are really no spare single-end Powell cable cars, this Hyde Ride is a great way to increase effective capacity (and revenue) of the cable car system during peak periods. The double end-cars have twice the outdoor seating of the single-end Powell cars, and the there-and-back route packs in the steepest hill and sharpest curves on the cable car system, coupled with incredible vistas as riders roll along.

Here’s the signage we created for Aquatic Park terminal. The first three days of operation, we are training volunteer ambassadors to explain the service to people waiting in the Aquatic Park queue and then ride the cars to answer questions.

Vintage rail summer starts now!

International Waterfront Streetcar Service Starts June 2

The Embarcadero takes on some international flavor this summer with a vintage tram at least 90 years old running from the Ferry Building to the Fisherman’s Wharf area starting Sunday, June 2, and then every Sunday and Monday through October 14 from 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., supplementing regular F-line service between the Wharf and Castro.

The first few weeks will see two 1928 trams from cities 10,000 miles apart taking turns: Melbourne 496, and Milan “Peter Witt” 1859 . As soon as Muni’s streetcar complete the required “burn-in” period to certify the newly rebuilt trucks of Blackpool Boat Tram 233 (which we acquired for Muni in 2014), it will join in the mix, wearing its original 1934 English livery, green and cream. (“Red Boat” 228, which ran last summer, is being prepared for its own overhaul and may not appear this year.)

Vintage rail summer starts now!
Blackpool Boat Tram 233 testing recently in Dolores Park. Robert Parks photo.

EXTRA SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY: All F-line streetcars, including the special vintage cars on Sundays and Mondays, are IN SERVICE (carrying passengers) during their trips between the car barn and the waterfront at the beginning and end of their service day. The special cars leave Cameron Beach Yard (across from Balboa Park BART Station at Geneva and San Jose Avenues) at 9:20 a.m. every Sunday and Monday until mid-October. You can get on at ANY J-line or F-line stop starting at Ocean and San Jose Avenues, a block east of Cameron Beach Yard. Make sure you signal the operator as the car approaches. Likewise, the last trip of the day, which leaves Pier 39 at 5:30 p.m. Sundays and Mondays, is IN SERVICE all the way to Balboa Park.

We’ve asked that Boat 233 operate on as many Sundays as possible to facilitate family outings.

Your chance to be a tour guide

We depend on volunteers for most of what we do: people who love historic transit and want to support it any way they can. Well, the special summer services provide ideal opportunities for YOU, if you fit that description.

We’re looking for additional volunteer ambassadors to ride along on the special service cars, answering riders’ questions, and pointing out interesting sights along the way. You’ll have one of our special jackets and ride the cars without charge. At the Aquatic Park boarding area, you’ll be expected to walk along the queue of waiting riders and invite those not going all the way downtown to take the Hyde Ride. Training will be provided.

You’ll be interacting with people from all over the world who have chosen to ride the cable cars or historic streetcars because they’ve been told how special the experience is. You can make it an even better experience as a friendly ambassador.


  • Friendly demeanor; ability to project your voice (no amplification available)
  • Working knowledge of how cable cars and streetcars work and basic history (study guide provided), enabling you to answer most common questions
  • Good interpersonal skills with Muni crew members and other employees, to whom you must always defer
  • Availability to work a minimum of four hours on a given day
  • Overall, ability to serve as a positive ambassador for MSR, Muni, and The City

If you feel you can meet these requirements, drop an email to that includes your phone number, days of the week and hours of the day you would be available, and whether you have a preference between the Sunday-Monday streetcar runs or the Thursday-Saturday Hyde Rides.  We’ll get back to you promptly.  

Come out and ride these special vintage services this summer…and take Muni to get there. Let’s all show our support for Muni as a budget crunch looms!


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