The year 1917 was doubly important for the San Francisco Municipal Railway. It opened the J-Church streetcar line along a scenic route through Dolores Park and over the hill to Noe Valley, and it introduced its first motor buses, after five years of operating streetcars exclusively.
This year, for the sixth annual Muni Heritage Weekend, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which owns and operates Muni, and Market Street Railway, the SFMTA’s nonprofit preservation partner, are joining to celebrate these dual centennials, and mounting a variety of displays and related events to celebrate the positive ongoing role of public transit in the city.
“Public transportation is what has kept San Francisco moving and developing for well over a century, and is more important today than ever,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “Our displays will show just how important Muni has been not only to the city’s past and present, but will also show its vital importance to San Francisco’s future.”
On September 9 and 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., San Franciscans and visitors can celebrate this double centennial by riding vintage Muni streetcars from the F-line Steuart Street stop (just a few hundred feet from the original J-line Ferry Building terminal), out Market Street and Church Street to the J’s original outer terminal at 30th Street and Church. The line will feature Harvey Milk Streetcar PCC 1051. Riders will enjoy spectacular views of the city from the top of Dolores Park.
Vintage buses built from 1938 to 1990 will operate on two routes, both departing from Market Street Railway’s San Francisco Railway Museum on Steuart Street between Market and Mission across from the Ferry Building. Two trolley coaches, 1950 Marmon-Herrington 776 and 1975 Flyer 5300, will run the route of the 41-Union line to Washington Square in North Beach.
Several vintage motor coaches will take turns transporting riders along the approximate route of the 82x line to Levi’s Plaza near the Cruise Ship Terminal at Pier 27. These buses include vintage 1938 White Motor Company gasoline coach 042, which served Coit Tower on the 39-line for almost 40 years. It is one of the oldest buses owned by a U.S. transit agency and is restored to its original orange and black Muni paint. It will be joined by 1970 GMC diesel bus 3287, familiar to many long-time San Franciscans for its red and yellow paint scheme, modeled after the California Street Cable Car livery. AM General motor coach 4154, built in 1984 and wearing its original livery created by famed San Francisco industrial designer Walter Landor, will also be in service, along with 1990 Orion coach 9010.
The special streetcars in service on Muni Heritage Weekend won’t just be limited to the J-line. One of America’s oldest streetcars, the 1896 “dinky” numbered 578, which a Muni predecessor ran along Oak and Page Streets before the 1906 earthquake and fire, will shuttle passengers along The Embarcadero between the F-line Steuart Street stop and Pier 39. It will be joined on that route by 103-year old Muni Car 130, bought to take San Franciscans to the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and one of Muni’s popular 1934 vintage open-top “boat trams” acquired from Blackpool, England for Muni by Market Street Railway. Rides on these three streetcars will be free.
Additionally, 1929 Melbourne, Australia tram 496 will operate in regular service on the E-Embarcadero line between Caltrain and Fisherman’s Wharf. The restored 1907 cable car 42, the last surviving operational cable car to wear the livery of the O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde line, which disappeared in 1954, will operate in regular service on the California Street cable car line between Market and Van Ness. Regular Muni fares apply to these vehicles.
Besides the operating vehicles, several Muni vehicles will be on display next to the Railway Museum, in the plaza at Steuart Street and Don Chee Way. These include the latest restoration effort of Muni’s bus maintenance team, 1956 Mack motor coach 2230, newly rebuilt and painted in its original green and cream Muni “Wings” livery. The Mack fleet was the backbone of Muni’s bus operation throughout the 1960s and is well remembered by thousands of San Franciscans. Other vintage buses are being selected to join it in the plaza, along with one of Muni’s brand-new New Flyer motor coaches, celebrating SFMTA’s achievement of transforming its rubber-tired fleet from one of the oldest in the U.S. to one of the newest in the past five years.
The San Francisco Railway Museum will be hosting a special sale of transit books and memorabilia both days to benefit Muni’s non-profit preservation partner Market Street Railway. Talks on San Francisco’s transit history will be given at the museum at 2 p.m. both days and authors of local transit books will hold book signings. The schedule for these events is available at www.streetcar.org.
Visitors to the free museum can also see an exhibit on Muni’s transition from streetcars to buses and one on the role streetcars played in the daily lives of San Franciscans 80 years ago.
“San Francisco has been a great transit city for 150 years,” said Rick Laubscher, president of Market Street Railway. “We’re proud to support Muni Heritage Weekend to give the public a rare chance to actually ride the full array of our city’s historic transit vehicles, buses as well as streetcars and cable cars, all of them truly museums in motion.”