Trolleybuses in San Francisco

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San Francisco
trolleybus system
ETI trolleybus 5571 on steep section of Sacramento St west of Powell St, San Francisco (2007).jpg
An ETI 14TrSF trolley bus at Nob Hill,
climbing an approximately 17% grade
Locale San Francisco, California, United States
Open 1935 (1935)
Status Open
Operator(s) Market Street Railway
San Francisco Municipal Railway
Electrification 600 V DC
Stock approx. 300
Website San Francisco Municipal Railway

The San Francisco trolleybus system forms part of the public transportation network serving San Francisco, in the state of California, United States. Opened on October 6, 1935,[1] it presently comprises 14 lines, and is operated by the San Francisco Municipal Railway, commonly known as Muni (or the Muni), with around 300 trolleybuses – or trolley buses (two words), the common American English spelling of the term. In San Francisco, these vehicles are also known as "trolley coaches" (a term that was the most common name for the mode in the United States in the middle decades of the 20th Century).

One of only five such systems currently operating in the U.S.,[2] the Muni trolley bus system is the second-largest such system in the Western Hemisphere, after that of Mexico City. A particularly notable feature of its operations are very steep grades. The system includes the single steepest known grade on any existing trolley bus line in the world,[3][4][5] 22.8% in the block of Noe Street between Cesar Chavez Street and 26th Street on route 24-Divisadero,[3][6] and several other sections of Muni trolley bus routes are among the world's steepest.[7]

The Muni trolley bus system is complementary to the city's rail-bound Caltrain, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Muni Metro and cable car system. In addition, it shares some of its overhead wires with the F Market & Wharves streetcar line.


Muni trolleybus wires at McAllister & Divisadero streets.

Trolley buses currently operate the following Muni routes:[8]

01 Drumm Street – California Street – 33rd Avenue/Geary
03 Sutter Street – Jackson Street – Presidio Avenue
05 Transbay Terminal – Fulton Street – La Playa/Ocean Beach
06 Ferry Plaza – Parnassus Street – Quintara Street
14 Ferry Plaza – Mission Street – San Jose Avenue/Daly City
21 Ferry Plaza – Hayes Street – Stanyan/Fulton
22 3rd St./20th – Fillmore Street – Marina Boulevard
24 Jackson Street – Divisadero Street – Oakdale/Palou/3rd Street
30 Caltrain Depot – Stockton Street – Jefferson/Beach
31 Ferry Plaza – Balboa Street – La Playa/Ocean Beach
33 Maple Street – Stanyan Street – Potrero/25th Street
41 Main Street – Union Street – Lyon/Greenwich
45 Lyon Street – Union Street – Stockton Street – Caltrain Depot
49 North Point Street – Van Ness Avenue – Mission Street – City College

Line 41 operates only in rush hour. The San Jose Avenue terminal of line 14 is in the neighboring municipality of Daly City.

Current fleet[edit]

An ETI 15TrSF, on Van Ness Avenue at Geary Street, on route 49.

As of 2010, the exclusively high-floor Muni trolley bus fleet included 313 serviceable vehicles, comprising three different types, of which 240 were conventional length (two-axle) buses and 73 articulated buses.[8][9] However, 12 of the latter were retired in early 2013,[10] reducing the overall fleet size to 301. The articulated trolley buses are used on lines 14, 41 and 49.

Fleet numbers Quantity Manufacturer Electrical
Model No. Configuration Year built
5401–5640 239 Electric Transit, Inc. (ETI)
(Škoda/AAI Corp.)
Vossloh Kiepe 14TrSF Conventional 1999–2003
7001–7059, with gaps 27 New Flyer General Electric E60 Articulated 1993–1994
7101–7133 33 Electric Transit Inc. (ETI) Vossloh Kiepe 15TrSF Articulated 2003

The suffix SF in the two ETI model numbers stands for San Francisco. These two types were specially derived from the standard series Škoda 14Tr for use on the Muni system. The New Flyer E60 series originally comprised 60 units; 20 have been withdrawn from service.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "History of Trolley Buses in San Francisco". Muni website. San Francisco Municipal Railway. Retrieved August 5, 2011. 
  2. ^ Webb, Mary (ed.) (2010). Jane's Urban Transport Systems 2010-2011, pp. "[23]" and "[24]" (in foreword). Coulsdon, Surrey (UK): Jane's Information Group. ISBN 978-0-7106-2915-9.
  3. ^ a b Perles, Anthony (1984). Tours of Discovery: A San Francisco Muni Album. Interurban Press. p. 127. ISBN 0-916374-60-2. 
  4. ^ Box, Roland (May–June 1989). "San Francisco Looks Ahead". Trolleybus Magazine No. 165, pp. 50–56. National Trolleybus Association (UK).
  5. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 195 (May–June 1994), p. 83.
  6. ^ "General Information About Transit". San Francisco MTA. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  7. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 259 (January–February 2005), p. 23.
  8. ^ a b "Trolleybus city : San Francisco USA". TrolleyMotion website. TrolleyMotion. Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  9. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 293 (September–October 2010), p. 116. National Trolleybus Association (UK). ISSN 0266-7452.
  10. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 309 (May–June 2013), p. 82.


  • Perles, Anthony; with John McKane, Tom Matoff, and Peter Straus (1981). The People's Railway: The History of the Municipal Railway in San Francisco. Glendale: Interurban Press. ISBN 0-916374-42-4. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Trolleybuses in San Francisco at Wikimedia Commons