NOTE: Streetcar/cable car charters are suspended for the duration of the Covid crisis.
Want a very special experience? Charter your own historic streetcar for birthday or anniversary celebrations, office parties, or just for the heck of it!
Market Street Railway does not operate the streetcars, though we do charter them regularly to provide excursions for our members and special guests. We will also arrange streetcar charters as part of a package for those holding special events at our museum.
Here’s a list of our currently scheduled excursions.
The San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), which owns and operates the historic streetcars, offers them for charter to groups or individuals. You and your guests have the whole streetcar to yourselves. They’re great for celebrations of all kinds. They also offer charters of the world-famous cable cars. Here’s a link to Muni’s charter page.
And here, we offer our own rundown of how this works, in the form of answers to frequently asked questions.
- Q: How do I charter a historic streetcar for my own group?
- A: Select which historic streetcar you would like to charter, the route you would like including the starting and ending locations, the date, the starting and ending times, and submit your request to Muni via email at least two months before your proposed charter date. After submission, Muni operations will review the request. You will be notified when the request has been approved. After approval, you will receive an invoice. (Again, the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)
- Q: Which historic streetcars can be chartered?
- A: Any in-service historic streetcar may be chartered. Click on the car number in the left column of the roster to see more information about a particular streetcar.
- Q: How much does it cost to charter a streetcar?
- A: Effective July 1, 2016, the fee will be $447.22 for a 2-hour minimum charter, then $189 for each additional hour. All streetcars have the same rate.
- Q: When does the “clock start ticking?”
- A: It starts when your group boards the streetcar and stops when your group disembarks.
- Q: How far in advance must a streetcar be chartered?
- A: Charters must be made through Muni at least two months in advance and payment must be received at least one week in advance.
- Q: What routes are there to choose from?
- A: Historic streetcars can be chartered to run on the F-Market, J-Church, K-Ingleside, L-Taraval, and M-Ocean View lines except in the subway. Historic streetcars can not currently be run on the N-Judah or T-Third Street lines (south of 25th Street). Generally, it is easier to get clearance to charter a streetcar on weekends or evenings than during weekdays. Trips can be either one-way or round-trip. Popular charter routes include:
- Balboa Park or Church & 30th Streets to The Ferry Building or Fisherman’s Wharf.
- 17th & Castro Streets to The Ferry Building or Fisherman’s Wharf.
- Balboa Park to the San Francisco Zoo (via West Portal).
- Q: How can I figure out how long various routes take?
- A: You can use the “Schedules & Route Maps” time-point tables to figure out approximately how long a particular route will take. For example, a Balboa Park to Fisherman’s Wharf round trip will take approximately 2.5 hours; a Castro to Fisherman’s Wharf round trip will take approximately 1.5 hours.
- Q: What payment methods are acceptable?
- A: Muni accepts only personal or certified checks or money orders; Muni does not accept credit cards.
- Q: Where must payment be sent and to whom must it be made payable?
- A: Please make checks or money orders payable to:
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni), Federal ID No. 94-1160893.Please remit payment to:
Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni)
Attn: Eloida Leonardo, Finance
1 South Van Ness Ave, 7th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103.
- Q: Since it’s a private charter, can food and beverages (even alcoholic beverages) be brought and consumed on board?
- A: Yes; however Muni requires you to clean up and remove any items you bring on board.
- Q: If members of my group are running late, can the start of the ride be delayed?
- A: In general, no. Once the streetcar arrives at the boarding location, your group must board. Muni can not hold up rail traffic behind the streetcar. However, the streetcar can wait off the main rail line at several possible starting points: the San Francisco Railway Museum across from the Ferry Building, Geneva Carhouse near the Balboa Park BART station, 17th and Castro Streets, Church and 30th Streets, or 11th and Market Streets. These make good starting points for your charter.
- Q. I’d like to take a special streetcar ride, but I don’t want to charter the whole car. Is there another option.
- A. Sure. Several times a year, Market Street Railway charters vintage streetcars itself and offers either guided tours by an expert historian, special itineraries on other parts of the streetcar system beyond the F-line, or both. Get the current schedule of these.