Throwback Thursday: MUNI's PCC streetcars

PCC Streetcar
PCC streetcar on Market Street, 2017. Bernard Spragg via Wikimedia Commons.

With the arrival of MUNI's new Siemens LRV4 light rail cars, we thought we'd take a look back at the green and cream colored streetcars that rolled around San Francisco for four decades.

Known as the Presidents' Conference Committee or PCC model, San Francisco received 120 of the cars between 1939 and 1952. Those cars were the workhorses of MUNI's streetcar lines all the way through the 1970s. Not as splashy as cable cars, they were built to provide riders with a smooth ride and comfortable seating — often lacking from earlier models —  although the only way to cool the passenger compartment was to slide open the windows. 

They provided millions of rides for residents over the years and became part of San Francisco's iconic landscape. Eventually, they were replaced by light rail vehicles beginning in 1980.

But their legacy proved so popular that in 1995 MUNI established the F Market Line as historic streetcar service, using PCCs to run along Market Street from the Castro District to the Ferry Building, then along the Embarcadero north and west to Fisherman's Wharf. The line is run with a mixture of PCC cars built between 1946 and 1952, as well as other historic cars. Due that success, a second line using historic cars dubbed the E Embarcadero started in 2015 and runs from the Caltrain Station to Fisherman's Wharf.

The Washington Post wrote a nice piece on the old cars' new lives last December.

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