Streetcars operated on Market Street from 1906 until 1982, when rail service was shifted to light-rail lines in a tunnel beneath Market Street. In the Summer of 1983, the Historic Trolley Festival used the tracks on Market St. to operate vintage streetcars. The Festival was so successful in attracting riders that it was repeated for four more years. The cars attracted not only tourists but residents in such numbers that a decision was made to restore full-time streetcar service. The tracks and overhead were completely rebuilt. Service was begun/restored on Labor Day, 1995 between 17th and Castro, a residential/shopping area, and the Transbay Terminal, terminus for bus transit service from the East Bay, a distance of 3 miles. The route is double-tracked, with the tracks generally located in the center of the street; lanes dedicated to streetcars and buses are used in the downtown. The route goes through the center of the business district.
The F-Line was successful beyond all expectations. Its success provided the impetus for plans extend the line to the foot of Market, then north past the Ferry Building to the popular Fisherman's Wharf area. At the Embarcadero, the streetcar tracks turn north and enter a median strip that extends to Pier 39. At Pier 39, the tracks return to the side of the street. The line becomes a single track, operating along the curb of Jefferson Street to the terminal at Jones and Beach Streets. From the terminal, the line returns east on Beach Street at the curb to Pier 39, where it returns to the median. For a map, go to https://www.sfmta.com/maps/f-market-and-wharves-accessible-stop-map"
A proposal to extend streetcar service along the length of the Embarcadero, from Fisherman's Wharf to the CalTrain commuter rail station at 4th and King Streets, was made early on. Following the opening of the F Line, passengers wishing to make that journey had to transfer from the Streetcar to the Light Rail at Embarcadero Station. A single vehicle ride was the vision. Since the route from Fisherman's Wharf to the Ferry Building was designed for streetcars, and the route from Embarcadero to 4th and King was designed for light rail,various modifications at light rial platforms east of the Ferry Building were necessary to operate streetcars. Also there is no turning loop at the east end, so double-end streetcars (with operating controls at both ends) were needed. MUNI had already rehabilitated several double-end PCC cars for service on the F Line, and additional ones were sent to Brookville for rebuilding. Weekend service was inaugurated August 1, 2015, with daily service beginning in April 2016.
Planners evaluated different types of vintage streetcars. They settled on the easy-to-maintain PCC car, a genuine part of San Francisco's transit heritage, and already much missed by residents. The Municipal Railway restored fourteen such cars acquired second-hand from Philadelphia, plus three of Muni's own retired double-ended 'torpedo' PCCs. Ridership on the initial segment quickly surpassed the capacity of the 17 PCCs. The Railway scrambled to find additional vintage streetcars to meet demand, and acquired ten 'Peter Witt' style trams just being retired in Milan, Italy, built in the 1920s but meticulously maintained and renovated.
Officials expected that these 27 vehicles would be sufficient to provide service on the extended line, but again demand far exceeded the cars' capacity. Following the opening of the extension to Fisherman's Wharf, this fleet had been supplemented by operating various vintage streetcars owned by the Municipal Railway and the non-profit Market Street Railway group.
In 2004, the Municipal Railway acquired 11 additional PCC cars from New Jersey Transit. These cars were built for the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company in 1946-1948. They were sold to NJT in 1953 and operated in the Newark Subway until retirement. Brookville Equipment Co. rebuilt these cars and they entered service on the F Line as they became available. For various reasons, MUNI has had to regularly supplement streetcars with buses to meet the demands of ridership over the years.
When the E Line opened double-end PCCs (cars with operating controls at both ends) were need to provide service because there is no turning loop at the east end, MUNI had already rehabilitated several double-end POC cars for service on the F Line. Additional ones from its fleet in storage were sent to Brookville for rebuilding Weekend service was inaugurated August 1, 2015, with daily service beginning in April 2016. For details, go to https://www.sfmta.com/projects-planning/projects/e-embarcadero-historic-streetcar-line"
There are 18 stops located on Market street. At the southern end, the stops are two to three blocks apart. In the Downtown shopping area, stops are located at almost every block. The stops in the center of the street utilize raised concrete boarding areas or islands, with ramps available for handicapped persons.
There are 12 stops along the Embarcadero extension, five of them in the Fisherman's Wharf area. The stops in the Wharf area are at the curb. Five stops east of the Ferry Building on the E line are at Light Rail stations in the center of the street at special low-level [platforms.
Service on the F Line is provided up to 20 hours per day, 365 days per year. Cars operate until after midnight, and the first cars return to the line before 6:00 a.m. Service on the E line noirmally operates from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily.
Frequency of service varies, but schedules call for service at least every ten minutes. However, the tremendous popularity of the F-line often exceeds the current number of cars available to meet the demand.
Fares for adults are $2.75 after July 1, 2017. For seniors, youth and disabled, the fare will be $1.25..