Market Street Railway (nonprofit)

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Market Street Railway
Market Street Railway Logo.png
Named afterMarket Street Railway Company
Founded1976; 43 years ago (1976)
FocusHistoric Transit
Key people
Rick Laubscher

Market Street Railway is San Francisco Municipal Railway's (Muni) 1,200-member nonprofit preservation partner. It relies on private contributions to help maintain San Francisco’s fleet of historic streetcars in service on the E Embarcadero and F Market & Wharves lines and the national landmark cable cars.

Market Street Railway operates a vintage vehicle restoration facility at 1 Buchanan Street, in the shadow of the 1937 San Francisco Mint. It is here that Market Street Railway volunteers restore historic vehicles before donating them to Muni.

Market Street Railway borrows the name of the Market Street Railway Company, a former commercial streetcar and bus operator in San Francisco.


Founded in 1976, Market Street Railway members created the successful San Francisco Historic Trolley Festival of the 1980s that resulted in the permanent return of streetcars to Market Street in the form of the F Market & Wharves — the most popular service of its kind in all of North America.[1]

Service on F-Market commenced on September 1, 1995, replacing Muni's 8-Market trolley bus line.[2] Currently, the F line carries nearly four times the ridership of the bus lines it replaced. In 1996, one year after service began, F-Market streetcars carried an average of 7,758 passengers per day, a 43% increase in ridership over the 8-Market trolley bus.[3] By 2008, F-Market streetcars were carrying an average of 20,000 riders per day, and were so overcrowded that drivers were forced to skip stops.[4] For comparison, the Muni Metro system carried an average of 130,000 passengers per day through the Market Street Subway in 1999.[5]

Service expanded in 2015 with the E Embarcadero line. The E line directly connects several regional transit services, including Caltrain, BART and bay ferries to waterfront businesses and attractions stretching from Mission Bay to Fort Mason.

Since its inception, Market Street Railway has helped Muni to acquire and restore more than a dozen historic streetcars and cable cars for service, adding diversity to Muni’s large historic fleet. Market Street Railway's restoration corps has done much of this restoration work themselves. Its volunteers also clean the cars' interiors at the Castro Street Terminal to improve rider experience.

San Francisco Railway Museum[edit]

Additionally, Market Street Railway developed and operates the San Francisco Railway Museum, a local history museum in the Vitale Hotel on the Embarcadero that showcases historical railway artifacts and tells the story of transportation in San Francisco.

Vision for the future[edit]

Led by President Rick Laubscher, Market Street Railway is working to increase F-line service levels. Extension of historic trolley service through Fort Mason Tunnel is currently being evaluated by Muni.

Market Street Railway is also working to restore and inaugurate the Market Street Railway Teaching Trolley, a 1924 streetcar that will serve to teach schoolchildren how electric railway vehicles work.


  1. ^ "A Brief History of the F-Market & Wharves Line". Market Street Railway. 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  2. ^ Zane, Maitland (7 August 1995). "Rebirth of F-Market Streetcars / Volunteers restore century-old trolleys to S.F. streets". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Muni's F-Market Line Wins Transit Award". San Francisco Chronicle. 2 October 1996. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  4. ^ Nevius, C.W. (5 August 2008). "S.F. streetcars too popular for their own good". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  5. ^ Wilson, Yumi (3 March 1999). "Muni May Limit Historic Streetcars' Runs on Market / Operators would move to Metro subway service". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 14 March 2017.

External links[edit]