City to roll out historic buses, streetcars for ‘Muni Heritage Weekend’

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is kickin’ it old school this week, running its historic buses and streetcars in anticipation of Muni Heritage Weekend this Saturday and Sunday.

“San Francisco’s transit history stretches back well over a century,” says Rick Laubscher, President of the nonprofit preservation group Market Street Railway. “Clean, efficient transit built our neighborhoods and business districts. Muni Heritage Weekend gives us a chance to celebrate that past, even as all Muni’s new streetcars and buses set the stage for better service today and tomorrow.”

Streetcars and buses aplenty will be availble for riders to enjoy free near the ferry building on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

During the celebration Muni will run its historic streetcar No. 1, which in 1912 became the first publicly owned streetcar in the entire United States, according to Market Street Railway. SFMTA will also run its “boat cars,” open-air streetcars strung with lights and signs listing their destinations as “nowhere in particular.” And though streetcars are often a big draw for riders, SFMTA will run its historic buses too.

From the iconic maroon and yellow General Motors-made Muni fleet of the 1960s, to the two-toned orange and white New Flyer coaches of the mid-1970s, which ran until the 1990s, Muni buses from San Francisco’s past will run up and down Market Street.

That last bus — the iconic orange bus whose look was designed by industrial engineer Walter Landor — happens to be Mayor London Breed’s favorite Muni bus, though they’ve long since been discontinued.

“White and orange, really old school. Rememer how the doors crinkled open?” she said, when the San Francisco Examiner asked her about it outside a recent press conference. “I haven’t seen one” in a long time, she said.

When told the buses would run by the Ferry Building at 1 p.m., Breed, a San Francisco native who grew up in The City, replied “I’ve got to check it out. That probably was my favorite old school bus. Dang, I miss those buses.”

But when asked what her favorite memory aboard those 1975 Flyer buses, which no doubt rolled her down Van Ness Avenue or Fillmore Street to Galileo High School, once upon a time, Breed was coy.

“I can’t talk about those” memories, she said. “I’d get in trouble!”

The festivities begin at noon with a cable car bell ringing demonstration at the plaza on Steuart Street and Don Chee Way, from ten-time cable car bell ringing champion Carl Payne. Kids and “kids at heart” will have a chance to practice ringing an authentic cable car bell, according to SFMTA. Buses and streetcars begin running at 1 p.m.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez
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Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

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