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San Francisco Municipal Railway

401 Van Ness Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94102

Robert Caliwell, Communications Director

(415) 923 616 


When the famous cable cars were rehabilitated between 1982 and 1984, San Francisco realized it needed an attraction to help to replace them. Thus the annual Trolley Festivals were instituted. These were extremely popular, and led to the creation of the vintage trolley “F” Line, which was built in four separate stages between 1988 and 1995. In 2000, the line was extended to the Fisherman’s Wharf area, and there are plans for additional service.


Twenty-four rehabilitated streetcars (17 Art-Deco Presidents Conference Committee cars and 7 older cars imported from Milan) operate over a route that is 10.2 miles ling round trip, or a bit over five miles one-way. Two additional cars are currently being restored, and the Muni Railway has about 10 cars in its historic fleet from the former Trolley Festivals, some of which may be chartered for special occasions. The tracks are in the center of Market Street, and share the lanes with other vehicular traffic for the most part. For the reach from Market Street to Fisherman's Wharf, the lane is in a reserved right of way in the middle of the Embarcadero. Stations along Market Street are on safety islands on the right side of the trolleys, and vehicular traffic lanes move to the right to go around these islands. Stations are located approximately every block, and most are fully accessible by means of either ramps or lifts. The cars are powered by 600-volt overhead wire, like almost all vintage trolley systems.  The line serves residential, commercial, retail, governmental, and entertainment venues. Market Street has traditionally been the principal arterial of San Francisco, and indeed, two levels of subway run under it for the five Muni Metro light rail lines and the regional Bay Area Rapid Transit system.


The line operates seven days per week from 5:00 AM until 1:00 AM. Weekday service is provided every 6 to 7 minutes in the peak hours, every 8 minutes during the day, and every 15 minutes in the evening hours. Saturday and Sunday cars run every 8 minutes during the day, and every 15 minutes in the evening. Fare is $1.00 for adults, and $0.35 for seniors and youth. For 1999, ridership on the “F” line along Market Street is about 9800 on weekdays and 5900 on weekend days. The Embarcadero extension is quite new, and ridership data is not currently available.


The line is operated as part of the San Francisco Municipal Railway, which provides transit service to the entire city.

Operating Costs and Funding:

Both the Market Street and the Embarcadero lines are operated as part of the Municipal Railway system, and operating costs are not available separately.

Capital Costs and Funding:

Capital costs were funded by the Municipal Railway as part of its transit improvement program. An interesting feature of San Francisco is the Transit Impact Development Fee. When a new building is constructed, the developer is assessed a fee which goes into the Municipal Railway general fund for transit improvements and services,

System Benefits:

The two lines provide a needed and well-used transportation facility for the city. The line is used by visitors and tourists, but is also well patronized by residents. The vehicles are painted in bright and distinctive color schemes, and add to the cosmopolitan and “fun” image of the city. Like the cable cars, the line is an additional attraction for visitors, although it is not commonly the sole reason for their visit. The “F” line along Market Street replaced a bus line, and the current ridership is about 65% higher than the former line.

System Problems and Issues:

Before the line was built, there was some concern from the gay population in the Castro District that tourists would come to “gawk” at them. This has not been an issue. There was also some concern regarding the overhead wire along the Embarcadero. Lining the median right of way with palm trees has helped to mitigate this issue.


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