Thursday, March 08, 2007

A lost trolley?????

I just happened to run into this trolley this morning on Market Street in San Francisco.
The City of San Francisco runs a vintage streetcar line down Market Street that then continues to Fisherman's Wharf and each car is painted with another city's transit colors. Car 1059 is painted to look like a car from the mid 1940's when the Boston system was known as the Boston Elevated Railway.
A dreamer like myself would love to see a vintage streetcar line connecting North and South Stations with stops along Atlantic Avenue but I doubt we will ever see anything like this in Boston.
For more info on the San Francisco vintage streetcar line CLICK HERE


Anne-Marie said...

Seeing a Boston trolley in San Francisco must have been very strange indeed

Patrick said...

So is this one of the cars that used to make up what is now the Orange Line, back in the day?

That's really neat.

And actually, I have a question that probably doesn't merit an e-mail since it's not service-related...

Last week at one point I was taking the Orange Line home to Oak Grove from Downtown Crossing. When we stopped at Wellington, I looked out the doors and across the platform I swear I saw a Blue Line train. It was dark, but I'm reasonably sure it was painted blue. Had I not needed to make a bus connection at Malden, I would have gotten out and looked at it.

My question is: assuming I'm not insane, what was it doing at Wellington? I thought the Blue/Red/Orange Line cars were mutually incompatible with one another, despite looking similar. Are there special T maintenance/training trains that are painted a different shade that might look blue for some reason? It had no passengers, it was parked with lights on inside and I could see a few T workers walking around by it.

Epsilon said...

That's not an Orange Line train- those would have run on what's now the Green Line, and the large parts of the bus system that were once trolleys in the BERy days. The BERy used an Orange livery on all of its trains.

Anonymous said...

The Blue Line car you saw in the wellington carhouse was one of the prototypes of the new blue line cars undergoing testing. If I remember correctly blue line cars can physically run on the orange line but there are certain issues with platform heights. Orange line can't run on the blue line due to not being able to use catenary lines and being too long for the Bodowin loop.

uberholt said...

I saw the blue line cars too...

Photos here. They look nice and clean.

Gerry said...

San Francisco has done a great job with the "F" line (and with their Breda
cars, which are high floor off-the-shelf models modified to MUNI's specs.
They, like the MBTA suffered in the LRV debacle and got rid of them many
years ago, while Boston actually had a number which gave reliable service
for many years (after a major rebuilding). The Breda order here, was an
attempt to fit a low floor design into the confines of the Tremont St.
Subway with its sharp curves and frequent grade changes. Breda's design uses
stub axles and a long wheelbase, and these items are the major source of the
car's problems. The Type 7 cars were a solution to the LRV's design failures
30 years ago. We can only wonder what might have happened if Kinki had
underbid Breda on this order.

MUNI was the very first public transit agency in 1912, and operated in
competition with the Market St. Ry. Co. and its predecessors for many years.
The private company sold out to MUNI in 1942 and much of its infrastructure
was demolished as it was worn out. A woman named Klussman took on the public
agency and managed to prevent the destruction of the cable cars, now a solid
tourist attraction. When the MUNI Metro was opened in the 1980s streetcars
were abandoned on Market St. but the tracks were never paved over. The
experimental Trolley Festivals of the 1980s, were popular during a period
when the cable car infrastructure was being rebuilt, When the cable cars
resumed service the idea of the F line was born and today is a resounding
success, carrying more passengers than the any of the 5 underground lines
and taking strain off the cable cars by serving Fisherman's Wharf. A
non-profit outfit known as Market St. Ry. was formed to raise funds for the
vintage trolleys, and works closely with MUNI to insure that the cars are
treated as the antiques they are. San Francisco was ahead of its time in
1912, in the 1950s, and in the 1990s. Its trackless trolley system continues
to expand as well, while Boston's, once larger, is a mere shadow of its
former self.

As far as a vintage line in the city is concerned, the chances are slim.
Boston eliminated streetcars from downtown by making the car lines connect
with rapid transit routes by the 1910s, or by routing them through the
Tremont St. Subway. There was no desire for such operations at any time
since. The 1945 era PCC's on Mattapan-Ashmont are probably the closest we
will come. Unlike San Francisco the paint is the correct shade of orange!
(SF has several orange cars and for economic reasons had to compromise on
the paint.)


Anonymous said...

So, how are they going to get the new Blue Line cars from Wellington over to the Blue Line tracks? Are the lines connected by a rail link, or will they have to load the cars onto trucks?

Just wondering.

Ron Newman said...

Definitely trucks. There is no rail connection between the Blue and Orange Lines.

Anonymous said...

I thought the cars in San Fran were actually old cars from the different cities. Not the case?

Alex said...

@Gerry: if you think that MUNI has done a great job with their Breda cars, you must be a glass half-full kinda guy. MUNI has probably done the best they can (which isn't saying much) with some of the shoddiest LRVs out there. As someone who was born and raised in the Bay Area, and takes MUNI on a daily basis... the only good thing I can say about the Breda cars is that they're not the Boeing ones. Hell, if the Breda cars were supposed to be fully delivered to Boston by 1998, that would certainly predate MUNI delivery of these horrid vehicles. By 1998 MUNI had already wrecked at least one of the Breda cars because three of them jumped the tracks while trying to tow a disabled one.

Part of my frustration is due to dealing with the week long meltdown due to the addition of a new rail line. Part if of the frustration is due to having to take another Breda car that broke down on my way to work today, and yet another Breda car (with one of its excessively loud HVAC units not working) home.

@Anon: Yes, the cars on the F-Market line do indeed come from other cities (or other countries). They're absolutely fantastic. The various PCC cars are quieter, smoother, and more comfortable than the Breda (and the vintage Italian) cars.