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
ETI 14TrSF trolley bus,
Sacramento & Powell Streets,
a 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][6] specifically 22.8% in the block of Noe Street between Cesar Chavez Street and 26th Street on route 24-Divisadero,[3][5][7] and several other sections of Muni trolley bus routes are among the world's steepest.[8]

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:[9]

1 California Drumm Street – California Street – 33rd Avenue/Geary
3 Jackson Sutter Street – Jackson Street – Presidio Avenue
5 Fulton Transbay Terminal – Fulton Street – La Playa/Ocean Beach
6 Haight-Parnassus Ferry Plaza – Parnassus Street – Quintara Street
14 Mission Ferry Plaza – Mission Street – San Jose Avenue/Daly City
21 Hayes Ferry Plaza – Hayes Street – Stanyan/Fulton
22 Fillmore 3rd St./20th – Fillmore Street – Marina Boulevard
24 Divisadero Jackson Street – Divisadero Street – Oakdale/Palou/3rd Street
30 Stockton Caltrain Depot – Stockton Street – Jefferson/Beach
31 Balboa Ferry Plaza – Balboa Street – La Playa/Ocean Beach
33 Ashbury-18th Street Maple Street – Stanyan Street – Potrero/25th Street
41 Union Main Street – Union Street – Lyon/Greenwich
45 Union-Stockton Lyon Street – Union Street – Stockton Street – Caltrain Depot
49 Van Ness-Mission 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.
The interior of ETI (Škoda) 14TrSF bus number 5538, on the 30 Stockton route.

As of January 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.[9][10] Of the latter, 40 were New Flyer E60 vehicles (built in 1993–94); 12 of these were retired in early 2013,[11] and the remaining 28 in early January 2015, leaving 33 younger articulated trolleybuses in service together with the 240 conventional units. The articulated trolley buses are used on the 14 and 49 lines.

Fleet numbers Quantity Manufacturer Propulsion Model Configuration Year built
5401–5640 240 Electric Transit, Inc. (ETI)
(Škoda/AAI Corp.)
Vossloh Kiepe 14TrSF Conventional 1999 (first two), 2001–2003
7101–7133 33 Electric Transit Inc. (ETI) Vossloh Kiepe 15TrSF Articulated 2000 (first one), 2002–2003

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.

Future Fleet[edit]

The SFMTA is currently procuring a one-for-one replacement of the existing trolley bus fleet in a joint order with King County Metro.[12]

Fleet numbers Quantity Manufacturer Propulsion Model Configuration Year built Notes Image
7201-7260 60 New Flyer Vossloh Kiepe XT60 Articulated, low floor 2015 Currently being produced SFMUNIXT60.jpg
5701-5940 240 New Flyer Vossloh Kiepe XT40 Conventional, low-floor 2016-2019 Option order
7301-7333? or 7261-7293? 33 New Flyer Vossloh Kiepe XT60 Articulated, low floor 2016? Option order

The model XT60 for New Flyer has prefixes X for Xcelsior and T for electric (trolleybus), and the suffix 60 for the 60-foot bus.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "History of Trolley Buses in San Francisco". San Francisco Municipal Railway. Archived from the original on December 18, 2011. Retrieved December 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ Webb, Mary (ed.) (2013). Jane's Urban Transport Systems 2013–2014, pp. "[23]" and "[24]" (in foreword). Coulsdon, Surrey (UK): Jane's Information Group. ISBN 978-0-7106-3080-3.
  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. ^ a b Trolleybus Magazine No. 261 (May–June 2005), p. 72.
  6. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 313 (January–February 2014), p. 27.
  7. ^ "General Information About Transit". San Francisco MTA. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  8. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 259 (January–February 2005), p. 23.
  9. ^ a b "Trolleybus city : San Francisco (USA)". TrolleyMotion. Retrieved December 24, 2014. 
  10. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 293 (September–October 2010), p. 116. National Trolleybus Association (UK). ISSN 0266-7452.
  11. ^ Trolleybus Magazine No. 309 (May–June 2013), p. 82.
  12. ^ Metro to partner with New Flyer on next generation of electric trolley buses


  • Perles, Anthony; with John McKane; Tom Matoff; 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