Sunday, August 27, 2017

San Francisco – Market Street Railway Streetcar Excursion: 27 August 2017

This was a twenty-five mile 4-hour excursion on San Francisco's F, J, K, L, and M streetcar lines. Destinations and sights included the San Francisco Ferry Building, Market Street, Civic Center, the San Francisco Mint, the Castro, Mission Dolores Park, Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, Glen Park, City College and St Francis Wood. Plus, the West Portal entrance to Twin Peaks Tunnel, the Great Highway, Stonestown, San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Zoo.

All Aboard! 

Click on an image to see the full-size photograph.

Like San Francisco, Melbourne, Australia utilized both cable cars and streetcars well into the twentieth century. Melbourne’s transit system was dominated by the W2-class streetcars. These streetcars were designed with closed sections at both ends of the streetcar; the middle section was used for boarding and disembarking. More than 750 W-class streetcars were built between 1923 and 1956. W-class streetcar # 496 was put into service in Melbourne on 18 February 1928.


In 1984, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency purchased streetcar # 496. With volunteer help from the Market Street Railway, streetcar # 496 has been cosmetically restored, made wheelchair-accessible, and provided with a GPS system. Otherwise, it’s mostly unchanged from its 56 years of service in Australia.


This is a view of streetcar # 496. It is idling on Steuart Street, close to Don Chee Way, the location from which we will board the streetcar.
This is streetcar # 1895.The second most common type of streetcar in Muni’s historic fleet is an American classic with an Italian accent. This streetcar, which was constructed in 1928, is named for Cleveland, Ohio's railway commissioner Peter Witt who designed it in 1915. His idea was to speed loading by putting the conductor in the middle of the car, letting crowds board through the front door and paying as they passed the conductor and then the passengers exited through the rear door.


Peter Witts” ran in 15 U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Los Angeles. The design was also exported to cities such as Toronto, Mexico City, Madrid, and three Italian cities, Naples, Turin, and Milan.
The city of Milan built approximately 500 "Peter Witts" streetcars starting in 1928, some of which are still operational in Milan. San Francisco's Muni now has ten "Peter Witts" Milan streetcars for use on the F-Market & Wharves streetcar line.

Streetcar # 1080 which was built in 1946, is painted in the colors of the Los Angeles Railway, which operated PCC streetcars after World War II. 


Los Angeles Railway was acquired in 1945 by National City LinesOperating as Los Angeles Transit Lines, National City Lines bought forty additional streetcars in 1948, to modernize the P-Pico streetcar line. The P-Pico streetcar line ran from the Pacific Ocean to downtown Los Angeles.
In 1958, the publicly owned Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority took over the Los Angeles Transit Line. There was a daily average ridership of 40,000 people on the P-Pico streetcar line. Which is approximately twice what the crowded F-Market & Wharves San Francisco streetcar line handles today. Despite the high ridership numbers, streetcars disappeared from Los Angeles in 1963. Automobile domination of the Los Angeles area was now complete. 
Rail transportation is now undergoing a renaissance in Los Angeles, with both heavy-rail subway and light rail lines slowly spreading across the region.
Streetcar # 496, was used for our excursion. It is pulling up to the passenger boarding platform sited on Don Chee Way, the location of the Market Street Railway Museum.
We are now heading outbound, going south on Market Street. Paul Lucas and Katie are the two Market Street Railway volunteers who guided us on this excursion. 
This is a view of Market Street from the rear of the streetcar; the Ferry Building is visible in the background. We are on the F-Market & Wharves streetcar line.
This is a view of the northern entryway to the Church Street Bypass. Mission Dolores Park is visible; we are traveling outbound on the J-Church light rail line. 
This is a view from within the Church Street Bypass.
Here is a view from San Jose Avenue. We are still on the J-Church light rail line, and we just exited the Bernal Cut (2)(3).
Ahead are San Francisco's Excelsior District and the Crocker-Amazon neighborhood. This view is looking south.
Emma and Nick are both transit drivers for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. For normal daily transportation, the majority of streetcars have only a single transit driver. Whenever a streetcar tour occurs, two transit drivers occupy each streetcar. Emma was the transit driver of Streetcar # 496 and Nick was the acting conductor. It was a pleasure to be on a streetcar under their control.
A view of Streetcar # 496; Emma is at the controls. Paul Lucas, a volunteer who expertly guided us on this adventure, is standing on the left. We are now on the M-Oceanview light rail line.
This is the western terminus of the L-Taraval light rail line. We are on Forty-seventh Avenue, adjacent to the San Francisco Zoo and one block from the Pacific Ocean.
Emma is standing proudly in front of streetcar # 496.
We are now at the Church Street Bypass and we are returning to the Ferry Building, the starting point of our ride.
The route: The distance traveled was approximately 25 miles (40.2 kilometers). The cumulative elevation gain was about 1,365 feet (416 meters). Mile markers are displayed on the GPS generated track. Click on the image to see the full-size map.
Go Here to view: The 100th anniversary of the J-Church streetcar line: 11 August 2017

Go Here to view: Market Street Heritage Weekend: 9 & 10 September 2017



“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lang 

Volume one of my San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view those photo galleries.

Thanks to Market Street Railway and all of its volunteers for helping to make this excursion a reality. I would also like to thank Rick Laubscher for authoring "OnTrack: A Field Guide to San Francisco's Streetcars and Cable Cars." The book is an excellent source of information about the historic streetcars and cable cars being used in San Francisco.

A Sony camera was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com