Normally relegated to Market Street and The Embarcadero, historic streetcars will be a bit more visible around San Francisco next month, at least for one weekend.
To coincide with the America’s Cup events scheduled for Aug. 26 and 27, Muni will be introducing its E-Embarcadero line, an expansion of historic streetcar service down to the Caltrain station on Fourth and King streets.
For those two weekend days, Muni will have five extra historic streetcars in service, running the vintage vehicles eight hours a day from Pier 39 to the Caltrain station. The streetcars will run every 15 minutes to complement Muni’s existing F-Market service, which carries more than 18,000 passengers daily.
The America’s Cup, a prestigious sailing regatta, is expected to draw thousands of visitors to San Francisco during the last weekend of August for its World Series, preliminary races for the 2013 main event.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, still hasn’t determined how many people will ride the E-Embarcadero line or how much the increased service will cost, said spokeswoman Kristen Holland.
Getting the extra transit operators needed to staff the streetcars is another issue for the agency. Due to a shortage in operators, Muni has been forced to cut runs on several transit lines, particularly the F-Market route, since the streetcars require workers with special experience.
Eric Williams, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents about 2,200 Muni operators, said he had no idea how the agency was going to be able to staff the extra streetcars for the America’s Cup weekend.
“Between the lack of bodies and the infrequent training program, I can’t see them being able to get the extra service running,” Williams said. “Which is a shame, since we all think extra streetcar service would be a great idea.”
Holland said the agency is developing a strategy to deploy operators to the extra streetcars. The agency is also planning on running its E-Embarcadero service during Fleet Week in October, Holland said.