F Market & Wharves

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F Market & Wharves
Car 1015 (Illinois Terminal) on Market Street.jpg
Car 1015, one of San Francisco's original double-ended PCC streetcars, on Market Street near the Ferry Building, painted in the colors of the Illinois Terminal Railroad (St. Louis)
TypeHeritage streetcar
SystemSan Francisco Municipal Railway
LocaleSan Francisco, California
TerminiJones and Beach
Fort Mason (planned)
17th Street and Castro
Daily ridership23,208 (2013)[1]
Opened1983–1987 (Trolley Festivals)
September 1, 1995; 23 years ago (1995-09-01) (revenue service)
OwnerSan Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
Operator(s)San Francisco Municipal Railway
CharacterAt grade, street running
Rolling stockHistoric Muni streetcars:
1, 130, 162, 578
PCC streetcars:
Muni, SEPTA, NJ Transit
Other historic streetcars:
New Orleans, Blackpool, Melbourne, Milan, Zurich
Additional unrestored streetcars
Line length6 mi (9.7 km)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in or 1,435 mm standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead lines, 600 V DC
Highest elevationAt-grade, street-level
Route map

Fort Mason Extension
proposed extension
Fort Mason
Van Ness
Hyde and Beach
Jones and Beach
Jefferson and Taylor
Beach and Mason
Jefferson and Powell
Pier 41
Beach and Stockton
Jefferson and The Embarcadero
Bay and The Embarcadero
Chestnut and The Embarcadero
Greenwich and The Embarcadero
Green and The Embarcadero
Broadway and The Embarcadero
Washington and The Embarcadero
Ferry Building
San Francisco Ferry Building
E Embarcadero
Don Chee Way and Steuart
Market and Main /
Market and Drumm
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Bay Area Rapid Transit
Transbay Terminal
c. 2000
Market and 1st Street / Market and Battery
Market and 2nd Street /
Market and New Montgomery
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Bay Area Rapid Transit
Market and 3rd Street / Market and Kearny
Market and 4th Street /
Market and Stockton
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Bay Area Rapid Transit
Market and 5th Street
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Bay Area Rapid Transit
Market and 6th Street / Market and Taylor
Market and 7th Street
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Bay Area Rapid Transit
Market and 8th Street /
Market and Hyde
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Bay Area Rapid Transit
Market and 9th Street / Market and Larkin
11th Street wye
Van Ness
Market and Gough
Market and Guerrero / Market and Laguna
David Pharr Restoration Facility
Market and Dolores / Market and Buchanan
N Judah
Market and Church
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg
J Church
Market and Sanchez
Market and Noe
17th Street and Castro
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg

F Market & Wharves map

The F Market & Wharves line is one of several light rail lines in San Francisco, California. Unlike most other lines in the system, the F line runs as a heritage streetcar service, almost exclusively using historic equipment both from San Francisco's retired fleet as well as from cities around the world (although busses are added during peak commute hours). While the F line is operated by the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), its operation is supported by Market Street Railway, a nonprofit organization of streetcar enthusiasts which raises funds and helps to restore vintage streetcars.

Despite its heritage status, the F Market & Wharves line is an integral part of Muni's intermodal urban transport network, operating at frequent intervals for 20 hours a day, seven days a week. It carries local commuters and tourists alike, linking residential, business and leisure oriented areas of the city. Unlike the San Francisco cable car system, the cheaper standard Muni fare system applies.


Previous F-Line[edit]

Cable car operations along Market Street began in 1888. Service was electrified 1906.[2]

In 1915, the San Francisco Municipal Railway started the F-Stockton route, which ran from Laguna (later Scott) and Chestnut Streets in the Marina down Stockton Street to 4th and Market Streets near Union Square, later extended to the Southern Pacific Depot (currently the Caltrain Depot) in 1947. The streetcar line was discontinued in 1951 and was replaced by the 30-Stockton route, which still runs today.

The F-line designation was therefore available for use by the current line, although that service is over a completely different route from the F-line of 1915 to 1951.

Previous lines on Market Street[edit]

A PCC streetcar on the K Ingleside route on Market Street in 1967

Market Street is a major transit artery for the city of San Francisco, and has carried in turn horse-drawn streetcars, cable cars and electric streetcars. In the 1960s construction began on the Market Street Subway, which would carry BART's trains on its lower level. All streetcar lines currently operating in the subway previously ran on the surface of Market Street, and were eventually diverted into the upper level of the tunnel. This diversion, together with the provision of new light rail cars, resulted in today's Muni Metro system.

The diversion of the Market Street streetcar lines into tunnel and the replacement of the existing streetcars with new light rail cars was completed by November 1982. However, the street trackage on Market Street was retained, and many of the old streetcars were still in storage.

Historic Trolley Festivals[edit]

Porto car 122 on Market Street in 1983, during the first Historic Trolley Festival

In 1982, San Francisco's cable car lines were shut down for almost two years to allow for a major rebuild. Temporary weekend historic streetcar service started on July 3, 1982 as part of 4th of July celebrations and ran until September of that year.[2] To provide a more regular alternative tourist attraction during this period, the San Francisco Historic Trolley Festivals began in 1983.[3][2] These summertime operations of vintage streetcars on Market Street were a joint project of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and Muni.[3]

The trolley festival route went from the Transbay Terminal at First and Mission Streets to Market, then up the retained Market Street tracks to Duboce Avenue. From there, it followed a 'temporary' streetcar detour built in the 1970s to bypass subway construction under Market: Duboce, Church Street, and 17th Street to Castro.

F-Market Line[edit]

Streetcar #1053 at 17th and Castro in 1999

The Trolley Festival proved so successful it was repeated every year until 1987. In that year, preparation began for the introduction of a permanent F line. After that year's festival finished, Muni replaced the old Market Street tracks with new ones, restoring tracks to upper Market Street and recreating a line to Castro. Different types of vintage streetcars were evaluated to provide the backbone of the F-line fleet, resulting in the decision to use the PCC car, due in part to its historic San Francisco transit use. Fourteen such cars were acquired second-hand from Philadelphia to add to three of Muni's own retired double-ended PCCs.[citation needed]

On September 1, 1995, the F line opened[4][5] with a parade of PCC cars, painted to represent some of the two dozen North American cities that this type of streetcar once served. Ridership exceeded expectations and the 8-Market was finally completely discontinued on December 29, 1995.[2] At that point in history, this was a rare instance in which a streetcar replaced a bus line in operation, rather than the other way around. The need for extra cars resulted in the acquisition of ten Peter Witt style cars just being retired in the city of Milan, Italy. These cars were built in the 1920s to a design once common in North American cities, and their sister cars are still widely used on the Milan tramway network.

Extension on the Embarcadero[edit]

An F Market & Wharves streetcar at Pier 39

The Embarcadero is the eastern waterfront roadway of San Francisco, along San Francisco Bay. At one time busy with port and ferry related traffic, it fell into decline as freight transferred to the container terminals of Oakland and the Bay Bridge replaced the ferries. In the 1960s the elevated Embarcadero Freeway was built above, dividing the city from the bay, but was condemned and demolished after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Proposals for streetcar service along The Embarcadero were put forward as early as 1974,[6] and historic streetcar service along The Embarcadero was first provided during the 1987 Trolley Festival, using existing Belt Railroad tracks on The Embarcadero and towed diesel generators to provide power.

With increasing development of the waterfront for leisure and tourist activities, and the existence of Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 at its northern end, it was decided to rebuild the Embarcadero as a tree-lined boulevard complete with a streetcar reservation. The section north of Market Street was to be served by an extension of the F line. Tracks were extended on the northern end of Market to connect with the Embarcadero tracks. In March 2000, service on the F line began along the new extension to Fisherman's Wharf.[7]

A month later, Muni dedicated a car to Herb Caen, the noted columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle perhaps most famous for coining the phrase Baghdad by the Bay to describe The City. The car, Streetcar No. 130, which was originally delivered in 1914, contains wood paneling and is decorated with many quotes from Caen.[8][9]

Better Market Street[edit]

The Better Market Street project, a streetscape project launched in the late 2000s to improve Market Street, has a transit component that aims to improve the operations of the F Line. The project would consolidate and eliminate some stops on Market Street and would also construct a new turn-around loop for the F Line at McAllister and 7th Streets.[10] The loop would allow increased service between Fisherman's Wharf and the Civic Center area, which is the section of the line with the highest ridership. Average headways under the service improvement would be 5 minutes instead of the current 7.5 minute scheduled headways.[11] The project is undergoing environmental review with construction projected to begin in 2020.[10]


The trolleys operate continuously, reversing direction via loops at the ends of the line. Although the cars are able to utilize the tunnels, the F-line operates on the street level. Along Market Street, trolleys stop at street level above nearby BART and Muni Metro stations located below street level. The stations and stops are as follows (connections to other routes are noted):

Except for the height of certain platforms (mostly on the T Third Street line), F Market & Wharves line cars are fully compatible with the rest of the Muni Metro system. Indeed, the cars can be privately chartered and are operated outside of tunneled sections of the system.

Car fleet[edit]

Muni owns a large selection of equipment for use on the F line, although not all of them are in service at the same time. The car fleet includes four sub-fleets: PCC streetcars, Peter Witt streetcars, pre-PCC veteran streetcars from San Francisco, and a diverse collection of 10 streetcars and trams from various overseas operators.[12]

The line is principally operated by a mixture of the PCC and Peter Witt cars, although other more unusual or historic cars are often in service (including the 913 and 952, iconic streetcars named Desire). Although the modern Muni LRVs are not compatible with F-line service because the overhead line is not compatible with pantograph operation, Boeing LRVs have operated down parts of Market Street one or more times.[13]

PCC fleet[edit]

Three streetcars – original Muni #1010, ex-Newark #1073, and ex-SEPTA #1059 – on Jefferson Street

A fleet of PCC streetcars from San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Newark, built between 1946 and 1948, operate on the line. As of August 2007, MUNI was operating 27 of these cars, restored to various states of service. Among the restored cars in service, three are original San Francisco double-ended PCC cars. Another 16 cars are single-ended cars acquired from SEPTA in Philadelphia in 1992 (which continues to operate another 18 cars today, retrofitted for ADA compliance), while the remaining 11 cars are single-ended cars acquired from New Jersey Transit in Newark in 2002.[14]

MUNI has another 30 unrestored PCC cars in long-term storage.[14] The unrestored cars include five additional San Francisco double-ended cars, 10 San Francisco single-ended cars, 12 single-ended cars acquired from St. Louis in 1957, two single-ended cars from Philadelphia, and two single-ended cars from Pittsburgh. A further previously restored car from Philadelphia was written off after a traffic accident in 2003.[15]

Many of the restored cars are painted in the color schemes of prominent past and present PCC streetcar operators, including Muni itself and other transit systems.[14]

Peter Witt fleet[edit]

Former Milan Peter Witt car carrying the two-tone green color scheme used by Milan in the 1930s.

Muni operates a fleet of Peter Witt streetcars on the line, acquired from Milan, Italy. There are 11 of these cars, all built in 1928 to an Italian derivative of a common streetcar design that operated in many US cities, although never previously in San Francisco.[16]

Most of San Francisco's Peter Witt cars are currently painted in the overall orange color scheme that they carried in Milan, although one has been repainted into its original livery of yellow and white with black trim, while another is in the two-tone green livery that the cars carried from the 1930s to the 1970s.[16]

San Francisco vintage fleet[edit]

Veteran San Francisco streetcar 130 was built for Muni in 1914, and operates in the livery it carried in 1939.

The F-Line fleet also includes a fleet of pre-PCC vintage cars built between 1895 and 1924 for use in San Francisco. Three passenger cars were built for Muni itself, and a further two for the independent Market Street Railway Company that ran competing streetcar services in San Francisco until acquired by Muni in 1944. The final car is a works flat car, built for Muni in 1916 and used for hauling rails, ties, and other materials needed to maintain a streetcar system.[17]

The cars carry a variety of former San Francisco streetcar color schemes.[17]

Worldwide fleet[edit]

"Boat car" #233 from Blackpool

The Muni's international fleet on the F-Line includes a diverse collection of 10 cars from various operators worldwide:[17]

All the cars carry the color schemes of their original operators, except for the Brussels car, which currently carries a color scheme paying tribute to San Francisco's twin city of Zürich in Switzerland (the streetcars actually in use in Zürich use meter-gauge and therefore cannot be moved to San Francisco). The Moscow trams had to be equipped with 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) trucks.[citation needed]

Fort Mason[edit]

The abandoned railway tunnel under Fort Mason would be part of a planned extension

Muni completed a technical feasibility study to extend the F-Line from the vicinity of the existing Jones Street terminal with the assistance of the National Park Service in December 2004. The extended line would extend westward alongside the San Francisco Maritime Museum and Aquatic Park and then through the historic (1914) but disused single-track Fort Mason Tunnel, formerly owned by the State Belt Railroad.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the extension, again led by the National Park Service, commenced in May 2006,[18] resulting in:

  • a draft conceptual engineering report, issued in January 2009[19]
  • a proposed transit operations plan, issued in July 2009[20]
  • a draft EIS, issued in March 2011[21]
  • the Final EIS, issued in February 2012[22]

The final document classified areas west of the Fort Mason Tunnel as having "inadequate regional transit access...limited transportation options for transit-dependent residents...[and] infrastructure constraints impacting effectiveness and operations of Fort Mason Center." The Final EIS named a double-tracked extension along Beach Street, a jog north to Aquatic Park, then across Van Ness Avenue to single-tracked service through a retrofitted Fort Mason Tunnel and to a terminus in the Fort Mason Center parking lot as the "preferred alternative".[22]

Fort Mason extension stations[edit]

Stop Outbound
(to Castro District)
(to Fort Mason)
Handicapped/disabled access Connections Notes
Fort Mason
Inbound terminus
Handicapped/disabled access
Van Ness
Handicapped/disabled access
Hyde & Beach
Handicapped/disabled access
Jones and Beach
Existing inbound terminus
Handicapped/disabled access

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "TEP Route Data & Proposed Changes". San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). 2013. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
  2. ^ a b c d Callwell, Robert (September 1999). "Transit in San Francisco: A Selected Chronology, 1850-1995" (PDF). San Francisco Municipal Railway.
  3. ^ a b Perles, Anthony (1984). "Chapter 9: The Trolley Festival". Tours of Discovery: A San Francisco Muni Album. Interurban Press. pp. 136–142. ISBN 0-916374-60-2.
  4. ^ Sebree, Mac (November 1995). "Kodachrome PCCs Roll Down Market Street". Pacific RailNews. Pentrex. p. 68. ISSN 8750-8486. Archived from the original on June 17, 2019.
  5. ^ Ehrlich, Peter. "PCCs by the Bay". Passenger Train Journal, June 1996 issue, pp. 24–31. Pentrex.
  6. ^ "Historic Streetcars". San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  7. ^ "A brief history of the F-line". Market Street Railway. Archived from the original on October 3, 2006. Retrieved March 20, 2006.
  8. ^ King, John (22 September 2005). "Take a trip with Herb Caen, who lives on in an F-Market streetcar". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  9. ^ Rose, Paul (29 October 2014). "SFMTA Announces Details of Muni Heritage Weekend" (PDF) (Press release). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  10. ^ a b Rudick, Roger (February 13, 2018). "Better Market Street Update". Streetsblog San Francisco. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  11. ^ Better Market Street Project EIR Volume I (PDF) (Report). San Francisco Planning Department. February 28, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  12. ^ "The historic streetcars of the F-line fleet". Market Street Railway. 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-14.
  13. ^ MUNI LRVs—1258 @ Market/Duboce
  14. ^ a b c "The PCC: A streetcar named success". Market Street Railway. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-14.
  15. ^ "F-line fleet operational status". Market Street Railway. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-14.
  16. ^ a b "The Milan 'Peter Witt' trams". Market Street Railway. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-14.
  17. ^ a b c "Muni's incomparable antique streetcars". Market Street Railway. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-14.
  18. ^ "Extension of F-Line Streetcar Service to Fort Mason Center". National Park Service. 15 March 2013. Archived from the original on 7 March 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  19. ^ URS Corporation (22 January 2009). DRAFT Conceptual Engineering Report (PDF) (Report). National Park Service – Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  20. ^ URS Corporation (July 2009). FINAL Task 10 Working Paper: Transit Operations Plan (PDF) (Report). National Park Service – Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  21. ^ Picavet, Alexandra; Cullivan, Lynn (18 March 2011). "Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Extension of F-Line Streetcar Service to Fort Mason Center Now Open for Comment" (Press release). San Francisco, California: National Park Service. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  22. ^ a b Final Environmental Impact Statement for Extension of F-Line Streetcar Service to Fort Mason Center (PDF) (Report). Golden Gate National Recreation Area: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. February 2012. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.

External links[edit]