The line commenced operation in 1919 and incorporated a previous streetcar line which had opened in about 1907, 20th Avenue – 30th Avenue. It was extended along Taraval to 48th in 1923, and subsequently extended south (turning off Taraval at 46th) to the San Francisco Zoo, the line's current outer terminus, on September 15, 1937. The L was partially converted to modern light rail operation as part of the opening of the Muni Metro system in 1980. While many streetcar lines were converted to buses after World War II, the L Taraval remained a streetcar line due to its use of the Twin Peaks Tunnel.
The L Taraval Rapid project was conceived to increase pedestrian safety and speed up trains. Nine stops will be eliminated, the roadway upon which the track is laid will be repainted as a transit-only lane, and concrete boarding islands will be installed at some stops. Stop elimination occurred on February 25, 2017.
The line runs from the Embarcadero Station in the Financial District to the 46th Avenue and Wawona Street, near the San Francisco Zoo in the Sunset District. The downtown portion of the line runs in the Market Street Subway, which is shared with six other Muni Metro lines. It continues through the much older Twin Peaks Tunnel, shared by the K Ingleside and M Ocean View lines, emerging at West Portal Station. Once out of the tunnel, the L begins street running operation. It takes Ulloa Street to 15th Avenue and then turns west onto Taraval Street. It then follows Taraval to 46th Avenue, where it turns south towards the Zoo. The end of the line loops around Vicente, 47th Avenue and Wawona with the terminal stop on Wawona between 46th and 47th Avenues.
Tracks on Taraval Street extend west from 46th Avenue to 48th Avenue (Great Highway), but they are not used in revenue service. However, chartered streetcars and LRVs can operate there if requested.
The L Taraval line stops at large stations for the downtown section of the route and at smaller stops on the rest of the line. Most of the smaller stops are nothing more than a sign on the side of the street designating a stop and a few others are concrete islands in the middle of the street next to the tracks that provide access for wheelchairs. Muni bus routes provide service to all stations and other systems with access to the stations are noted.
The L Taraval operates 7 days a week, primarily with train service beginning at 5 a.m. weekdays, 6 a.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. Sundays and running until 12:30 a.m. Frequency headways range from 7 to 10 minutes during the day, and 15 to 20 during nighttime service. Late-night service is provided by the L Owl diesel bus line. This line is generally the same as the daytime L Taraval line, except it follows surface streets instead of going through the streetcar-only Market Street Subway and Twin Peaks Tunnel. The line begins at Steuart Street and Market Street, near Embarcadero Station, and follows Market past all of the Market Street Subway's seven underground stations served by the daytime L Taraval line. West of Castro Street, it turns south on Market Street, which becomes Portola Drive. It follows Portola between the Diamond Heights neighborhood and Twin Peaks, turns onto Woodside and then Laguna Honda Boulevard, where it loops around at Forest Hill Station. It then backtracks on Laguna Honda Boulevard, Dewey, Claremont and Ulloa to West Portal Station, where it rejoins the daytime L line.
Station and stop listing
inbound to outbound
|Embarcadero||Financial District||Inbound terminus
Connects to F Market & Wharves and BART; within walking distance of E Embarcadero
Serves Ferry Building
|Montgomery Street||Connects to F Market & Wharves and BART|
|Powell Street||Connects to F Market & Wharves and BART|
|Civic Center/UN Plaza||Civic Center||Connects to F Market & Wharves and BART|
|Van Ness||Civic Center and Tenderloin||Connects to F Market & Wharves|
|Church Street||Duboce Triangle||*||*Connects with J Church on surface stop at 14th Street
Connects with F Market & Wharves streetcar
|Forest Hill||Forest Hill and Laguna Honda|
|West Portal||West Portal||Muni bus: 48, 57, 91 Owl|
|Ulloa and Forest Side||Parkside||Muni bus: 48|
|Taraval and 15th Avenue|
|Taraval and 17th Avenue||Inbound only|
|Taraval and 19th Avenue||Sunset District||Muni bus lines: 28, 28R, 91 Owl
Intersects with Highway 1 (19th Avenue locally)
| Taraval and 22nd Avenue (inbound)
Taraval and 23rd Avenue (outbound)
|Taraval and 26th Avenue|
|Taraval and 30th Avenue||Muni bus: 66|
|Taraval and 32nd Avenue|
|Taraval and 35th Avenue||Inbound only|
|Taraval and Sunset||Muni bus: 29|
|Taraval and 40th Avenue||Sunset District|
|Taraval and 42nd Avenue|
|Taraval and 44th Avenue|
|Taraval and 46th Avenue||Muni bus: 18|
|46th Avenue and Ulloa||Muni bus: 18|
|46th Avenue and Vicente||Muni bus: 18|
|46th Avenue and Wawona/Zoo||Outbound terminus
Serves San Francisco Zoo
Muni bus: 18
- "TEP Route Data & Proposed Changes". San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
- Demery, Jr., Leroy W. (November 2011). "U.S. Urban Rail Transit Lines Opened From 1980" (pdf). publictransit.us. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- McKane, John; Perles, Anthony (1982). Inside Muni: The Properties and Operations of the Municipal Railway of San Francisco. Glendale, CA (US): Interurban Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-916374-49-1.
- Rodriguez, Joe Fitzgerald (20 September 2016). "SFMTA approves controversial L-Taraval changes in name of safety". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
- Rodriguez, Joe Fitzgerald (19 September 2016). "Major L-Taraval changes up for vote Tuesday". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
- "Muni to launch next big shakeup Saturday, changing routes, stops, and more". SF Gate. 23 February 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
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