Around 1907, the private United Railroads (URR) opened its Parkside Shuttle line, which split from the #17 line on 20th Avenue and ran along Taraval Street, 33rd Avenue, Vicente Street, and 35th Avenue. This trackage, which saw irregular passenger service, formed a barrier to continued expansion of the city-owned Municipal Railway into the Parkside district. On November 25, 1918, the city and the private URR signed the "Parkside Agreements", which allowed Muni streetcars to use URR trackage on Taraval Street and on Ocean Avenue in exchange for a cash payment and shared maintenance costs.:74
Muni's L Taraval line opened as a shuttle from West Portal to 33rd Avenue (on rebuilt URR trackage west of 20th Avenue) on April 12, 1919. It was extended along Taraval to 48th Avenue at Ocean Beach on January 14, 1923; that October 15, the shuttle service was replaced with larger streetcars running through to the Ferry Building.:75 The URR discontinued their Parkside Shuttle in late 1927. The L Taraval was subsequently extended south (turning off Taraval at 46th) to the San Francisco Zoo, the line's current outer terminus, on September 15, 1937. Every other streetcar was routed to the new Transbay Terminal on January 15, 1939; they were rerouted back to the Ferry Building on January 1, 1941, but the Transbay Terminal became the inner terminal for all streetcars on June 6, 1948.
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. Preliminary stop elimination occurred on February 25, 2017, though some plans were amended due to community backlash.
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 bus line, which is part of the All Nighter network. 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. On June 15, 2019, the L Owl route was extended along The Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf.
Station and stop listing
|Notes and connections|
|Embarcadero||Financial District|| F Market & Wharves; BART|
Serves ⛴ Ferry Building
|Civic Center/UN Plaza||Civic Center and Tenderloin|
|Forest Hill||Forest Hill and Laguna Honda|
|West Portal||West Portal|
|Ulloa and Forest Side||Parkside|
|Taraval and 15th Avenue|
|Taraval and 17th Avenue (inbound)|
|Taraval and 19th Avenue|
| Taraval and 22nd Avenue (inbound)
Taraval and 23rd Avenue (outbound)
|Merged from separate 22nd Avenue and 24th Avenue stops in 2017|
|Taraval and 26th Avenue|
|Taraval and 30th Avenue|
|Taraval and 32nd Avenue|
|Taraval and Sunset|
|Taraval and 40th Avenue|
|Taraval and 42nd Avenue|
|Taraval and 44th Avenue|
|46th Avenue and Taraval (inbound)
Taraval and 46th Avenue (outbound)
|46th Avenue and Ulloa|
|46th Avenue and Vicente|
|46th Avenue and Wawona||Serves San Francisco Zoo|
- "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. Archived from the original (pdf) on November 4, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- Chevalier, August (1911). "The "Chevalier" Map of San Francisco" – via David Rumsey Map Collection.
- Perles, Anthony (1981). The People's Railway: The History of the Municipal Railway of San Francisco. Interurban Press. ISBN 0916374424.
- Stindt, Fred A. (October 1990). San Francisco's Century of Street Cars. p. 119, 192. ISBN 0961546514.
- 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.
- Rodriguez, Joe Fitzgerald (26 January 2018). "SFMTA no longer plans to remove 17th Avenue Safeway stop". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
- "Twin Peaks Tunnel Improvements". San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. June 25, 2018. Archived from the original on June 26, 2018.
- Barnett, Benjamin (June 10, 2019). "Hoot Hoot – Muni to Provide Additional Nighttime Service" (Press release). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
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