Aussie streetcar rolls into town

Courtesy of the folks Down Under, Muni is adding a new streetcar to its fleet.

A green- and cream-colored tram built in 1946 is set to be unveiled this morning near the Ferry Building on The Embarcadero in a special joint celebration between Muni and foreign ambassadors from Australia.

The streetcar once traveled in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city and the state capital of Victoria, which donated the vehicle.
“Melbourne and San Francisco have a tremendous amount in common,” said Victor Perton, Victorian commissioner to the Americas. “This streetcar donation is a great physical symbol of our connection and an important way to strengthen our ties.”

The SW-6 Class tram is nearly 46 feet long and seats up to 52 people. Streetcars typically range in price from $70,000 to $250,000, but it’s the fact that there are no other trams like it in the country that makes this donation an invaluable addition to Muni’s fleet, according to Municipal Transportation Agency Executive Director Nathaniel Ford.

“We are grateful for the generosity of our friends in Melbourne and the state of Victoria, who truly understand the value and attraction of these stunning pieces of moving history,” he said.

The vehicle, which Muni is referring to as No. 916, took an extended route from Melbourne to San Francisco. After traveling for weeks on a container ship, the tram arrived in Oakland on Sept. 16. However, the large truck carrying the tram was too unwieldy to travel across the Bay Bridge, according to Perton, so it had to be rerouted around San Francisco Bay and up through the Peninsula to get to The City.

The streetcar will become part of Muni’s F-Market/Wharves line, which carries passengers from Market Street to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Muni still has to make a few adjustments to the tram, such as reconfiguring its doors. The streetcar is expected to make its operating debut some time next summer, according to Muni spokeswoman Kristen Holland.

The tram is the second Victorian streetcar donated to Muni. In January, transit agency hailed the operating debut of another Melbourne streetcar, the No. 496. The tram unveiled today is newer — the other was built in 1929 — and wider, and it can carry more passengers.

The City revived its historic streetcar program in 1995 after decades of dormancy. Popular with tourists and commuters, the F-line carries more than 18,000 passengers a day, according to Muni statistics. There are some 38 streetcars in the fleet, with 20 used regularly.

Welcome to San Francisco

An unveiling is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. today for an Australian streetcar donated to The City.

VITALS
Type: SW-6 class tram
Year built: 1946
Length: Nearly 46 feet
Seating capacity: 52 people

Source: Market Street Railways

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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