Streetcars operated on Market Street from 1906 until 1982, when rail service was shifted to a light-rail line 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 street. The line becomes a single track, operating along the curb to the terminal at Jones and Beach Streets. From the terminal, the line operates east on Beach Street at the curb to Pier 39, where it returns to the median. For a map, go to http://blog.streetcar.org/assets/maps/f-line.pdf
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. MUNI is rebuilding these cars and will add them to the F- Line service as they become available.
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, 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.
Service 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.
Frequency of service varies, but schedules call for service at least every ten minutes. However, the tremendous popularity of the F-line exceeds the current number of cars available to meet the demand.
Fares for adults are $1.25; for seniors, youth and disabled, the fare is 35 cents.